Its interesting to hear the need for 'Grand Renewals' constantly from the Tech industry. Few years ago, it was Web 2.0, Enterprise SOA. Today, it's about Cloud, Mobility/Tablets and Analytics.
Wanted to highlight two of the "Grand Rewneal" stories that are worth watching...Will add more on the same lines in coming days.
One of my colleagues made a recent comment that SAP's marketing team has been working overtime to promote HANA, its latest offering - a high-performance analytic appliance that runs in-memory. In the recently concluded SAP SAPPHIRE event, its CTO Vishal Shikka made a flamboyant pitch for HANA, that makes you to believe as if HANA is the next big thing not just for SAP, but for the entire business applications & analytics space!.
It is touted as the non-intrusive platform that can boost the performance problems of existing business intelligence/analytics solutions protecting customers' existing investments. In fact, in long run, SAP even wants to migrate the SAP R3 ERP suite to HANA. In a nutshell, HANA is a new generation platform where the business applications and analytics solutions can offload their transaction processing workload for faster performance. [It reminds me old transaction monitor softwares suchas Tuxedo :-)]
In its maximum capacity, HANA has been tested with a processor of 1000 cores (yes, you read it right!!), 16 Terrabytes of RAM. SAP is also working on a cloud version of HANA.
Now, coming to the core question - What kind of problems can be solved by HANA?. Simply - Big Problems. If you have business problems that need scale - scale in data volume, scale in complex processing, Demanding expectations on high-performance and Real-Time - then HANA may be right for you. SAP's key customers have already started to experiment with HANA in their respective businesses. For example, Infosys, an IT services company having employees close to hundred thousand people has experimented with HANA to track the project-level profitability or margins. Considering the size of Infosys, Am sure it will have thousands of projects at any point of time.
The keynotes by Vishal Shikka has been interesting in the last couple of years. Unlike other CTOs, Vishal gives a philosophical/conceptual approach for SAP's Technology/Product directions. He has earlier talked about some of the key concepts like Timeless software, Pace-Layered Architecture. In the recent keynote, giving an example of paper books moving to eBooks, Vishal mentions the "content" of the book has been liberated to take advantage of the "container". In this case, the container being transitioned is the hard-bound paper medium to an electronic device. And the liberation leads to new possibilities/new experiences. Having mentioned, he further makes the case for the "content" in business applications - the actual business information - be liberated to new "containers". In SAP case, the new container is "HANA".
SalesForce's annual event Dreamforce recently concluded. In the keynote given by company's CEO Marc Benioff articulates the vision of Social Enterprise. Social Enterprise is all about democratizing the business processes, eliminating barriers for employees, customers, suppliers to collaborate and share information/ideas and thereby increasing the opportunities for high performance of the enterprise. SalesForce has been making significant investments in the past by introducing offerings such as Chatter that are aligned to Social Enterprise vision. Some of the companies have started exerimenting with Chatter to be deployed as the collaboration platform between the Service representatives and Customers.
While the vision of Social Enterprise may sound like brand new and relevant these days, I see it as the re-incarnation of Web 2.0 concepts that we saw few years ago. Again, Social Enterprise is not a pure-play technology solution. Becoming a Social Enterprise would require companies to fundamentally re-think their organizational culture, processes, Employees & Reward mechanisms. In that sense, it can also be qualifed as a 'Business Technology solution', when collaboration happens not just between people. In addition, with across enterprise information systems.
There is a similar interesting observation on Cap Gemini blog quoting SalesForce.com becoming the new Front Office of enterprises. While SalesForce.com positions itself as a Front Office, SAP HANA positions itself as the solid engine for Transaction Processing and Business Analytics. It would be interesting to see how other players respond these positions!.
The key takeaway is that the key technology players want you to fundamentally re-think the way business are run / think about brand new opportunities that your business can advantage of, using their innovative new technologies. They don't position their offering as 'Technology infrastructure'. In fact, SAP positions its HANA as a business-technology platform when comparing Oracle's Exadata as a Technology infrastructure.