ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hasso Plattner, one of the five co-founders of SAP and chairman of its supervisory board, took to the stage here at the company's Sapphire Now conference to clarify the potential that HANA, the company's in-memory database technology, will have on the company's future -- from both technical and strategic standpoints.
"HANA is not an experimental thing," he said. "We got lucky and we found something and it runs things 10, 100, 1,000 times faster. HANA is a platform and is on the way to become the foundation for most of our applications, whether they're on-premise or in the cloud."
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Plattner wasted no time diving deep into the technical details of the technology, a somewhat odd choice given the thousands of businesspeople in the audience. Nonetheless, he was frank about the limitations of today's technology and why he thinks HANA will help free companies from them.
His talk was easily more than an hour long, and largely involved explaining the benefits of HANA by walking through it step-by-step. Still, he offered several observations about the technology and its relevance along the way.
A collection of highlights:
Plattner didn't resist in taking a few swipes at rival Larry Ellison of Oracle out for spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about a technology with implications not yet fully understood.
"Please, please, please, my dear competition," Plattner said, pleading, "We can beat each other and fight each other as much as we want and argue, but do not predict how a system really works when you really don't know and don't want to know. Either be better informed, or don't do it."
At one point, Plattner pointed to the massive display behind him, projecting a diagram of the HANA system, to ensure that it was visible via streaming video "for our friends in Redwood Shores."
He added, later: "We should not let FUD creep into our core operation. The other ones don't know enough."
But back to the topic at hand. Plattner employed several technology demonstrations during his talk to illustrate his claims. Among them: SAP's Business One ERP system; the use of real-time promotions in a Bigpoint video game; an overview of luxury outfitter Burberry's clientelling app for sales associates by CTO John L. Douglas; and a demonstration of HANA's high-availability capabilities by systematically turning off servers at its datacenter in Santa Clara, Calif. and watching the system respond in real time.
At the core of all of it? In-memory computing.
"It is fantastic for me to see after 44 years in the industry, that we have computer resources of that magnitude for relatively little money."
But he couldn't resist one more dig.
"Oracle BI runs nicely on HANA," Plattner said, a twinkle in his eye. "[But] it's not the preferred version from an Oracle perspective."
Photo: Tom Raftery