SAP keeps ratcheting up the marketing about HANA. While there has been a lot written, you need to dig through all of the marketing to get the real nuggets. One nugget that I found worth reading was a recent post by Dennis Moore entitled "The real (potential) impact of SAP HANA." Dennis used to be a GM at SAP and so has a fair bit of insight there. Prior to SAP, Dennis worked at Oracle.
When reading what Dennis wrote, a few points to note:
1. "While relational databases are good for solving many problems, it is easy to conceive of specific problems that are not well-solved by general-purpose databases."
2. "There is some controversy over whether NoSQL means “no SQL” or “Not Only SQL.” Regardless, those non-relational stores such as Hadoop, are growing in popularity, but are not really a replacement for relational data stores."
3. "A columnar store, therefore, stores data of a single type all together, which can give advantages such as the possibility for significant compression. Good compression can lead to reduced disk space requirements, memory requirements, and access times."
4. "with an in-memory database, both transactional and decision-support queries can be supported on a single machine, meaning that there can be zero latency between data appearing in the system, and that data being available to decision-support applications; in a traditional set-up where data resides in the operational store, and then is extracted into a data warehouse for reporting and analysis, there is always a lag between data capture and its availability for data analysis"
5. "HANA has evolved from a data warehousing database into a more general purpose platform"
6. "SAP HANA does manage data in memory, for nearly incredible performance in some applications, but it also manages to persist that data on disk, making it suitable for analytical applications and transactional applications – simultaneously."
7. "When HANA is generally available, it is expected to include both SQL and MDX interfaces, meaning that it can be easily dropped into Business Objects environments to dramatically improve performance. Some Business Objects analyses, whether in the Business Objects client or in Excel, can achieve orders of magnitude of performance improvement, with very little effort. Imagine reports that used to take a minute to run now running instantaneously."
To point 7 above, this is what Simba helps with. We help build the MDX interface in HANA that allows Excel analysis on the data.
8. "Hasso wants to sell you a simple, low-end, commodity device" that competes with Oracle's Exadata and Exalogic.
To point 8 above, this is probably the most interesting from a competitive point of view and where SAP is going. If SAP sells you HANA as "a simple, low-end, commodity device", then what will this mean for SAP, Oracle, and the industry as a whole? For SAP, they need to sell more value on top of HANA or they will have to sell a lot of HANA to get the same kinds of dollars they currently get from the systems they do sell. This could be very interesting for the industry because it would push costs down and increase the value you get.
9. "The longer term benefits of HANA will require new software to be written – software that takes advantage of objects managed in main memory, and with logic pushed down into the HANA layer."
To point 9 above, this is probably the most interesting thing. If you can get access to all of the data instantaneously with extreme performance, what can you do? This is what will revolutionize industry!