SAP Moves to Make In-Memory Computing More Accessible

Michael Vizard
Nov. 27 2012, 12:02PM EST

There’s a major shift under way in terms of how applications are being developed for the enterprise and the cloud. With the rise of more powerful multicore processors and relatively inexpensive Flash memory, more application logic is running in memory than ever. In fact, the line between the database and application logic running in memory is starting to blur.

To make in-memory computing more accessible to developers SAP has begun wrapping standard interfaces around its High Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA) platform, ranging from RESTful APIs to support for the Open Data Protocol (OData). In addition, SAP has made an instance of HANA available on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for applications that don’t exceed 64GB in image size while also tightening the integration between SAP NetWeaver middleware running in the cloud and HANA.

According to Ken Tsai, vice president of SAP HANA product marketing, the overarching goal of these efforts is to make it easier for developers to build a new generation of real-time applications using JavaScript or SQL Script development tools. With the rise of in-memory computing Tsai says not only will the next generation of applications be multiple orders of magnitude faster than applications that depend on disk systems for I/O, applications based on any form of batch processing are rapidly becoming “endangered species.”

Tsai isn’t suggesting that batch processing will disappear entirely, but on further examination SAP is betting that many existing batch applications were written that way because processing them in real time was both too costly and difficult to actually accomplish.

To help developers wrap their minds around HANA and in-memory computing, SAP has created the HANA Academy, through which developers can gain access to a free developer edition of HANA. SAP has already recruited 152 startup vendors thus far to develop applications on top of HANA, but Tsai says the goal is to create a massive ecosystem of HANA applications. To that end, Tsai says SAP is not only moving every one of its applications to HANA, it’s even encouraging companies that sell applications that compete with SAP applications to move to HANA.

Ultimately, Tsai says in-memory computing signals nothing less than the impending collapse of three-tier models for building application as application and database logic converge in memory. That may take some getting used to for developers, but rest assured, in the not too distant future somebody is working on an equivalent of your favorite business application that runs completely in memory. What SAP is not so subtly suggesting is that the developer reworking that application should be you.

Michael Vizard

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On May 17, 2012 Vishal Sikka announced free Hana developers license thru AWS. What is new, same hype for the last two years. Why cant SAP post a link to the GSA pricing for HANA. It really smells bad when a vendor can not post product pricing. How about any SAP link to HANA pricing. SAP would sell more Hana systems if they followed the oracle model and posted their prices and let anyone download their database software to try. What is SAP afraid of? I work directly with the Hana developers and they are generating new patches every day. SAP only supports you if you are on the latest Hana version. Hana is sold as an appliance but SAP provides no real hardware support.