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.
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.