SAP built SAP HANA from the ground up, including research from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, the acquisition of the IP from the p*Time database, the TREX search engine, BWA in-memory appliance and MaxDB relational database. It has been extended with intellectual property from the Business Objects and Sybase acquisitions with products like Sybase IQ and Business Objects Data Federator.
Whilst HANA has a legacy and some code from other products, the bulk of the database and platform has been written from the ground up.
What makes SAP HANA fundamentally different?
SAP HANA is different by design. It stores all data in-memory, in columnar format and compressed. Because HANA is so fast, sums, indexes, materialized views and aggregates are not required, and this can reduce the database footprint by 95%. Everything is calculated on-demand, on the fly, in main memory. This makes it possible for companies to run OLTP and analytics applications on the same instance at the same time, and to allow for any type of real-time, ad hoc queries and analyses.
On top of this SAP built solutions to all the problems of columnar databases, like concurrency (HANA uses MVCC) and row-level insert and update performance (HANA uses various mechanisms like a delta store).
If this wasn’t enough SAP added a bunch of engines inside HANA to provide virtual OLAP functionality, data virtualization, text analysis, search, geospatial, graph (will be available soon) and web. It supports open standards like REST, JSON, ODBO, MDX, ODBC and JDBC. There is as much functionality in there as a whole Oracle or IBM software stack, in one database.
What kinds of use cases does SAP HANA support?
The first HANA deployments were all analytical use cases like Datamarts and Data Warehouses because the benefits are there right out the box. EDWs like SAP BW run like lightening with a simple database swap.
With a transactional application like Finance or Supply Chain, most things run a little better from a simple database swap (SAP claim 50% faster for their own core finance). The real benefits come when logic from the applications are optimized and pushed down to the database level, from simplification of the apps (SAP is building a simplified version of their Business Suite), or from ancillary benefits like real-time operational reporting, real-time supply chain management or real-time offer management.
Best of all, unlike the other database systems in the market, HANA supports all applications on the same instance of data at the same time. No more copying, transforming and re-organizing data all over the enterprise to meet the needs of different applications. HANA perfectly serves the needs of all applications with one “system of record” instance.