SAP HANA Smart Data Access is a new feature that allows you to take data anywhere and access it from within HANA like it is a “local” table.  SAP HANA Smart Data Access allows you to basically connect to heterogeneous data sources without requiring any special syntax.  SAP has already shown how this works with sources like Hadoop (Hive) as well as Sybase (IQ and ASE) and Teradata.  What is actually very interesting about the Smart Data Access feature of HANA is that it will work with *ANY* data source – not just any RDBMS.  So think about this.  SAP does very well in the enterprise and is building great momentum at selling HANA to various enterprise customers.  Enterprises have a lot of proprietary systems for things like inventory management, accounting and budgeting, order tracking, etc. If you could connect these various in-house proprietary systems to SAP HANA, you could make HANA the hub of your enterprise data and leverage everything SAP has built around HANA.  Therefore, if you could connect your proprietary in-house inventory management system to SAP HANA, well then everything that HANA enables like advanced BI through Business Objects would now be able to be used with your inventory management system.  You could use SAP’s Predictive Analytics capabilities to help improve inventory management so you hold less inventory and save money.

Sounds too good to be true, right?  Actually it is very possible.  As many companies in Big Data are finding, SQL is the lingua franca of enterprise data.  The most common way to connect SQL data sources is the ODBC standard.  In fact, this is how HANA Smart Data Access connects to Hive.  HANA uses the Hive ODBC driver which translates SQL queries to the HQL language and makes this all happen.  A little known fact is that the Hive ODBC driver is built using the SimbaEngine ODBC SDK.  SimbaEngine ODBC SDK is the easiest way to build an ODBC driver.  So, to connect HANA to your inventory management system, the trick is to take the SimbaEngine ODBC SDK and build your ODBC driver in 5 days.  You then use HANA Smart Data Access and voila, HANA now connects to your inventory management system and you can leverage the full power of the SAP HANA ecosystem to manage your inventory.

A good slide deck to review on this subject is here: http://www.slideshare.net/SAPTechnology/hana-sps07-29044474