SAP is launching SAP BW/4HANA, a version of its Business Warehouse software that will only run on its HANA in-memory database.
If the move sounds familiar that's because SAP did something similar with its S/4HANA e-business suite last year. The playbook was designed to move customers to the latest SAP's latest e-business suite on its HANA platform. As a result, customers choosing to stick with SAP would have to cut out other databases such as Oracle.
SAP BW/4HANA is designed to take more of the data warehousing pie. The software will be available on Amazon Web Services and as a managed cloud service from SAP. SAP plans to also enable its BW/4HANA on other public clouds.
Ken Tsai, vice president of data management and cloud platform marketing for SAP, said the plan is to offer multiple clouds for BW/4HANA. Tsai said SAP will continue to support Business Warehouse on multiple databases, but the move to HANA-only simplifies the architecture and provides more features.
Tsai said SAP has about 15,000 Business Warehouse customers and 3,700 of them run the software on HANA. "We anticipate the uptake for BW/4HANA to be high given our large installed base," said Tsai. "We will also introduce aggressive promotions for adopting BW/4HANA and make it attractive to customers."
Promotions will be outlined when BW/4HANA is generally available. BW/4HANA will include:
- HANA views that combine SQL data logic and native information from SAP S/4HANA.
- In-memory performance.
- Redesigned user interface.
- Automatic partitioning of data.
- Unified data load management.
- Use of data wherever it resides whether in legacy system or data lake.
Here's a look at the user interfaces.
There have been a few articles and analysis focused on the future of HANA and whether SAP's move to push its own database will pay off. Shaun Snapp, a consultant, argued that SAP will have to backtrack on its approach to S4/HANA. Why? Snapp argued that Oracle Database 12C and its in-memory option negate the use of HANA.
In other words, it's likely that many SAP customers will want to run S4 on Oracle's database. SAP may be rolling the dice by making HANA a required purchase to get S/4.
Various industry players in the Enterprise Irregulars group disagreed parts of Snapp's analysis, but highlighted problems with SAP's approach to coupling its software with HANA. Fighting over databases may be focusing too much yesterday's war. As the cloud takes hold as the preferred deployment option, databases matter less.
Will the risks of HANA lock-in and threats from open source databases and big data approaches thwart SAP's approach with S4/HANA and BW/4HANA? Perhaps. SAP will have to offer features no one else can provide at the higher application tiers above HANA. Today, HANA is a part of a much broader database mix and making Business Warehouse could prove a risky move.