SAP Unveils Ambitious Plans for Database Market

Sean Michael

Updated · Apr 10, 2012

The name SAP has been synonymous with enterprise applications for decades. Now SAP executives want their company to be synonymous with databases too. SAP today announced a series of initiatives that will further enable its database efforts, including the in-memory HANA and Sybase database technologies.

During a press conference today, Vishal Sikka, executive board member for Technology and Innovation at SAP, announced that the SAP Business Warehouse (BW) will now be powered by SAP HANA.

“BW on HANA is a non-disruptive, dramatic improvement in performance and cost,” Sikka said. “We are already running selected customer ERP systems on HANA too and we're confident that by the end of this year we'll enter the ramp up of ERP running on HANA.”

The ultimate goal is to enable all of SAP's application portfolio to run well on SAP's database and in-memory technologies. That said, Sikka noted that HANA is also useful for non-SAP applications as well. According to Sikka, the majority of HANA sales in the U.S. to date have been for analyzing non-SAP sources of data.

At the core of SAP's HANA database push is the Linux operating system, which is the only operating system on which the in-memory database will run.

While HANA and its in-memory capabilities is a key platform for SAP's database strategy, so too is the Sybase database. SAP acquired Sybase in 2010 for $5.8 billion. Sikka said that Sybase is now able to run the entire SAP business suite.

“We have now in our hands the ability to be the fastest growing database company in the world,” Sikka said. “I also want to make it crystal clear that databases are such a critical part of an enterprise landscape that for the foreseeable future SAP will work together with our partners including Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and others to support other databases for both the business suite and other products such as business intelligence.”

In an interview, Steve Lucas, global executive vice president and general manager for Database and Technology at SAP, explained that HANA and Sybase serve different use case situations. Lucas noted that when he is talking to customers about which database makes sense, it's often a discussion about high volume lower value data versus, low volume high value data. In many cases, it makes sense to use both Sybase and HANA in tandem in order to deliver the best solution that meets the needs of volume and data quality.

A key competitive target for both Sybase and HANA is Oracle. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently attacked SAP over its database and cloud stance. Lucas noted that one of the key platforms for SAP has been the Intel Itanium based hardware, which is a platform that Oracle has recently decided to abandon.

“We have a huge number of customers calling us looking for what I would characterize as sanctuary from Oracle Itanium announcement and they want to leverage their Itanium investment,” Lucas said.

While Oracle isn't the only competitive target that SAP is going after, Lucas noted that it's all about the math.

“Look at our business warehouse customer base with 13,000 customers, probably 55 to 60 percent are running on Oracle,” Lucas said. “So the more penetration we get, it would stand to reason that most of that growth would come at the cost of Oracle.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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  • Sean Michael
    Sean Michael

    Sean Michael is a writer who focuses on innovation and how science and technology intersect with industry, technology Wordpress, VMware Salesforce, And Application tech. TechCrunch Europas shortlisted her for the best tech journalist award. She enjoys finding stories that open people's eyes. She graduated from the University of California.

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