Oracle has said that it wants to be the leading high-end systems vendor in the world.
Oracle has said that it wants to be the leading applications vendor in the world.
Oracle has said that it wants to be the leading OLTP vendor in the world.
Oracle has said that it wants to be the leading data warehouse vendor in the world.
Oracle has said that it already is the leading database vendor in the world.
Oracle has said that it already is the leading middleware vendor in the world.
Now, while I love ambition as much as the next guy, that recipe seems to call for a tad more control than most people find to their liking. But in the same vein, there’s more talk of domination woven into the Oracle vision for the future of your company’s IT operations:
Oracle has said that the best way to reduce complexity in your IT systems and across your IT infrastructure is to buy more Oracle products and technology.
And, Oracle has unleashed relentless attacks on the very company (Hewlett-Packard) that had been its leading and most-strategic hardware partner for 30 years. Oracle also has vowed to “go after” HP in the market, in spite of the fact that Oracle and HP share about 140,000 customers.
(Most of these claims by Oracle are documented in detail in a piece I wrote on January 3 of this year called, “Larry Ellison’s 10-Point Plan For World Domination.”)
But Oracle has never said much of anything about SAP HANA, SAP’s new in-memory analytic appliance that is rapidly evolving into a revolutionary platform that will change how customers view their businesses, identify, and attack business opportunities and problems, and think about and deploy IT.
And I suspect that silence is going to disappear quite soon—perhaps even with Oracle’s earnings call today—as Larry Ellison and company begin to comprehend just how completely SAP HANA can disrupt Oracle’s plans as the appliance offers newer, better, and more-powerful approaches to enterprise computing than traditional models can hope to match.
Now, while that might be easy to say, it won’t be nearly so easy to execute. And that’s why it’s so critical to understand that for SAP, SAP HANA is much more than just a product or an appliance. And that unlike Oracle Exadata, it’s not just a snazzier delivery platform for an existing product (the name of Oracle’s product is, after all, “Exadata Database Machine”).
No, for SAP and its customers, SAP HANA represents something profoundly different—consider these comments from SAP executive board member Vishal Sikka, who heads up the company’s technology and innovation efforts:
“HANA is the foundation and the core of all that we do now and going forward for existing products, new products and entirely new frontiers. We are transforming enterprise software with HANA, and we are transforming our entire product portfolio,” Sikka said in a statement earlier this week announcing that SAP HANA is now generally available worldwide.
“But HANA is more than a product,” Sikka continued. “It is a new paradigm, an entirely new way to build applications. It is the basis for our own intellectual renewal internally at SAP—where we rethink how we design, build, deploy, service and sell products—and the basis for our customers’ and partners’ intellectual renewal—where we help customers rethink existing business problems and help them solve entirely new challenges using design-thinking.”
Against that backdrop, here are my Top 10 Reasons why SAP HANA will disrupt Oracle’s plans and the database industry at large. (I’ve rolled them out in ascending order from #10 up to #1.)
10.) SAP HANA’s a business-technology platform, and Exadata’s a database. Exadata’s a great product—as long as what you’re looking for is a big, powerful, and fairly closed database that’s perfect for consolidating but not so hot when it comes to helping you reimagine your future. Conversely, SAP HANA allows customers to see their business in new ways, reduces the need for infrastructure, and offers a platform for renewing existing applications and building entirely new ones, specifically designed for the real-time rigors of the coming decade. Today it’s an analytical solution; tomorrow it becomes an application platform for both analytics and planning; and eventually the entire SAP Business Suite will be optimized on SAP HANA. Sanjay Poonen, president for Global Solutions and Go-to-Market at SAP, offered this perspective in an email exchange: “For the first time, HANA lets you do query optimization (read-only) and planning (writeback) analytic solutions in a single in-memory platform. Today, even with Oracle Exadata, you get a faster database than Oracle 9g for query/reporting, but you still have to use Hyperion Essbase for planning. Two separate databases, with all the problems of data-movement, meta-data sprawl, TCO (total cost of ownership), etc.” In addition, Poonen added, “Hyperion Essbase is based on 15-year-old byzantine technology, which is why SAP has now toppled Hyperion as #1 in EPM (Enterprise Performance Management). HANA instead represents a unified, once-in-a-lifetime, more modern in-memory platform for both reporting and planning analytic apps.”
9.) SAP HANA offers more simplification, while Exadata offers more layers. “As businesses attack more-complex problems, they need to rethink all the layers involved in their technology stacks,” said SAP’s Amit Sinha, vice president of Solution Marketing for SAP In-Memory Computing, in a recent conversation. “From the beginning with HANA, Vishal [Sikka] has talked about the need for dramatic simplification. But with Exadata, you still get more layers—it may be faster than your old database structure, but you’ve also got more backup layers, more replication layers, and more of the old stuff that just adds cost and complexity. And cost-shifting is definitely not the same as cost-optimization.”
8. ) SAP HANA simplifies and reduces cost of architecture. SAP HANA’s in-memory technology and overall design allows companies to rethink what type of architecture and infrastructure is required to support applications and optimize data management. It radically alters the role of the database and database servers (and licenses), plus the networks connecting transactional systems to analytical systems, plus the vast arrays of expensive and/or proprietary hardware. SAP executive vice president Steve Lucas described in a recent conversation the new levels of freedom and choice that SAP HANA will offer to customers. “The purity of our architectural approach with HANA gives us the ability to be released from the burdensome architectural requirements of the past.”
7.) Exadata’s priority is cannibalization; SAP HANA’s is business insight. In Oracle’s December earnings call, President Mark Hurd talked about how Exadata can help customers run their Oracle workloads “15 to 50 times” faster. (In a public document released last month [PDF] chronicling the Exadata experiences of about 20 customers, Oracle outlined performance increases much closer to the low end of that range—with several in single digits.) Hurd then went on to describe the huge revenue opportunity Oracle was pursuing with Exadata as an upsell option, saying the company’s 295,000 database customers were now on the target list. While that’s nice for Oracle’s top line, Hurd said nothing about whether Exadata can help those companies extract great business value and business insight from their sprawling IT systems other than increased speed. Conversely, SAP’s Poonen offered these examples of industry-specific applications and expertise offered by SAP HANA: “Unlike database and middleware companies, our secret sauce is being able to take analytic optimization technologies like HANA, and not just sell them as a faster, better, cheaper database, but bring them to life in industry-specific vertical analytic applications. For example, we have picked the top HANA use-cases in all of the 24 industries we play in, and we go-to-market with business value scenarios or packaged apps in those industries. For example, in Consumer Products we will be offering a Trade Promotion Effectiveness app; in Banking, it’s Customer Profitability; in Utilities, we have Smart Metering Analytics; in Manufacturing, we offer Sales and Operational Planning; and in Retail, we’ve got Merchandise Assortment Planning. Rich industry content and scenarios are the way in which SAP connects with the business buyer, rather than posing a value proposition that simply offers a faster database.”
6.) SAP HANA’s new product leader brings customer perspectives. Earlier this month, SAP reached into the executive ranks of one of its largest customers to recruit the former CEO of Siemens IT Solutions and Services, Dr. Christoph Kollatz, to lead product development and drive massive scale for SAP HANA. In his former role at Siemens IT—which had 38,000 employees and revenue of about $7.5 billion—Kollatz gained deep firsthand knowledge of SAP’s people, products, and strategy. “As a customer of SAP, I was able to see the dedication and drive firsthand,” Kollatz said in an SAP press release. “Now, as a part of SAP, I look forward to building upon the success of SAP HANA and helping to drive large-scale adoption of this transformational technology globally.” Kollatz reports to Sikka, who said that “Christoph’s background as a former CEO-level customer of SAP as well as his strong management and operational background will enable us to massively scale the adoption of SAP HANA.” In his new role as executive vice president, Kollatz will focus on SAP HANA product strategy and development and driving widespread adoption and implementation of SAP HANA, while his peer, executive vice president Lucas (quoted above), will continue to lead the go-to-market strategy for SAP HANA as well as all SAP business analytics products and services.
5.) SAP HANA leverages leading partners; Exadata leverages Oracle lock-in. While SAP sources or will be sourcing the hardware for SAP HANA via strategic partnerships with IBM, HP, Dell, Intel, Fujitsu, Cisco, and Lenovo, Exadata comes in only one hardware flavor: Oracle/Sun. In addition, SAP HANA can be integrated into a wide range of enterprise environments that allow SAP HANA to handle data from Oracle databases, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM’s DB2. Yes, Exadata does a very solid job of consolidating lots of smaller and slower databases, but one of the prices to be paid for that is an increasing dependence on Oracle along with additional software-purchase requirements. SAP HANA imposes no such single-sourcing requirement.
4.) SAP HANA lets customers go beyond Big Data to Extreme Data. SAP’s Lucas pointed out that while lots of companies have been wrestling with the challenges of what’s come to be known as Big Data, SAP HANA is aimed at the even gnarlier problem of Big Data’s big brother: Extreme Data. “Extreme Data has four qualities: first, it comes in very large amounts; second, it’s complex—structured, unstructured, very difficult to deal with; third, it’s got to be gathered, analyzed, acted upon, and distributed in real time; and fourth, you’ve got to be able to apply to that Extreme Data the knowledge and intelligence that already resides in your own company that lets you make better decisions. This is far beyond BI—you can have all the BI in the world but in a planning meeting, you’re still stuck with what was synchronized around the latest run of the data warehouse. And that’s just not good enough anymore.” SAP HANA, Lucas said, was built specifically to be the platform that can not only handle but also wring maximum value out of Extreme Data: SAP HANA is “a platform for planning, forecasting, analyzing, storing, and eventually for OLTP at that extreme level.”
3.) Customers are embracing SAP HANA’s focus on delivering new levels of business value. At last month’s SAPPHIRE NOW event, Colgate-Palmolive CIO Tom Green said in a video testimonial, “We’re now rethinking our entire applications landscape around HANA.” And Procter & Gamble VP of IT Jim Fortner said, “We think HANA has the potential to let us completely rethink the architecture of our transactional systems.” That’s particularly telling with regard to HANA’s wide-ranging potential because its initial application is on the analytics side of the house—but clearly P&G sees the overall promise extending deeply into OLTP as well. For more customer raves about SAP HANA, please check out my blog entry from SAPPHIRE NOW called, “SAP Customers: HANA Is ‘Mind-Blowing,’ ‘Game-Changing,’ And ‘Incredible.’”
2.) Customers are wary of putting too much control in the hands of any one vendor. Think about that Oracle wish-list at the top of this column: Oracle claims it’s the leading database vendor in the world, and it claims it’s the leading middleware vendor in the world, and Larry Ellison has publicly proclaimed that he wants Oracle to become the leading high-end systems vendor in the world, the leading enterprise-applications vendor in the world, the leading OLTP vendor in the world, and the leading data-warehousing company in the world. So perhaps it’s comforting to see that—at least as of right now—Oracle’s not gunning to get into smartphones, tablets, and printers. (Wait a minute—the Oracle lawsuit against Google would actually push Oracle into smartphones and tablets, wouldn’t it? Well, at least printers still seem to be outside Oracle’s target zone.) As Rolfe Winkler of the Wall Street Journal wrote in a “Heard on the Street” piece about Oracle this week, “Another potential reason for investors to worry about growth: customer dissatisfaction over aggressive tactics, says Susquehanna analyst Derrick Wood. This past quarter the company said it would stop developing Oracle software running on certain H-P servers, in what may be an attempt to force customers to switch to Oracle hardware. Some customers fear that Oracle is trying to lock them into buying more of its products, for which it can charge hefty maintenance fees. A potential danger would be that some scale back purchases or turn to rivals.”
1.) Traditional database technologies are simply not powerful enough for our brave new world of Extreme Real-Time Data. SAP Global Solutions President Poonen said SAP has leapfrogged Oracle in the race for technological and market leadership in the strategic category of in-memory computing: “Larry Ellison dismissed SAP, saying Oracle would be the first in the industry to release an in-memory database ahead of HANA,” Poonen said. “Well, that was in September 2010. HANA was released in November 2010, and went GA in June 2011.” And SAP’s Lucas, citing Google’s use of in-memory technology to extract search results from the world’s current trove of 297 exabytes of data, says that it’s a simple matter of physics and computer science: “The traditional RDBMS technologies of the last 30 years won’t take us through the next 30 years.” The demands are different, the scales are different, the expectations are different, the depth and range of queries are profoundly different, and the stakes are certainly different: rather than using technology to reconcile what has already happened, the new breed of IT systems must be able to see, evaluate, analyze, and make expert recOracle has said that it wants to be the leading high-end systems vendor in the world.
So: everybody’s got an opinion, and that’s mine. Please share yours—after all, your future is riding on it.
ommendations based on what is yet to be—and they must do so in real time. And the in-memory approach, Lucas says, is the only way to tackle that Extreme Real-Time Data future.
So: everybody’s got an opinion, and that’s mine. Please share yours—after all, your future is riding on it.