May 16, 2013, 2:35 PM — Anyone remotely within the orbit of SAP lately knows that its number-one focus is the HANA in-memory database and development platform. At this week's Sapphire conference in Orlando, the vendor sought to show the progress it is making in both building out HANA's capabilities as well as attracting developers and partners to HANA.
"After four years of preaching HANA, I think we have reached a relative climax," SAP co-founder and Chairman Hasso Plattner said during a keynote address Thursday. "It's not about HANA anymore, it's about the applications on HANA."
While walking the conference's show floor, Plattner saw evidence of "hundreds, probably thousands" of applications that are being built on HANA, he said.
SAP has also been updating HANA through a series of service packs, which it says provide new functionality without the pain and hassle of a traditional upgrade. Service pack number six is now generally available and with it brings a raft of features resulting in a "re-imagined" HANA, SAP said Thursday.
One major new feature is Smarter Data Access, which can examine a query and determine the most efficient way to federate it across a company's database landscape, whether to HANA or other systems such as Oracle, Sybase and Hadoop.
The pack also brings geospatial data capabilities to HANA, allowing for applications that combine business and location data in real time, SAP said. This could be of interest to companies with large amounts of expensive, geographically dispersed capital assets, such as a trucking company or energy utility, that wish to track and monitor those assets.
Other improvements in the pack cover natural language processing, application development tooling and disaster recovery.
HANA now has 1,500 customers, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said during a keynote address this week at Sapphire. It is also "the fastest-growing product ever in business software," he claimed.
SAP expects the recently announced HANA Enterprise Cloud to significantly accelerate that adoption rate, Snabe said during a question-and-answer session with press and analysts.
HANA Enterprise Cloud is a managed service that customers can use to run their SAP Business Suite, CRM (customer relationship management) and Business Warehouse software on HANA.
The HANA Enterprise Cloud uses a bring-your-own-license model, wherein customers buy HANA licenses and then migrate them. After that, they pay an additional fee for managed services. While SAP is continuing its policy of no discounting on HANA licenses, it will be possible for customers to negotiate the cost of the managed services, said Steve Lucas , executive vice president of analytics, database and technology, in an interview.