Is SAP HANA the future of PLM databases

I’m on the road in Europe this week. Europe met me with snow in Zurich and not very reliable internet connection later in Germany. On the plane, I was reading about future investments of SAP in HANA (new in-memory database) that suppose to revolutionize enterprise software industry. Navigate to the following link and have a read – SAP’s HANA Deployment Leapfrogs Oracle, IBM And Microsoft. I found the following passage very interesting.

What SAP has done is to provide one database that can perform both business analysis and transactions, something its rivals are able to provide only by using two databases, according to Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg. “It’s the only in-memory DBMS (database management system) that can do data warehousing and transactions in the same database. That’s where it’s unique.”

Databases is a fascinating topic. At the end of the day, the enterprise software industry (and not only) is solely relies on database for most of the applications. The days PDM apps were running on proprietary databases and filesystems gone completely. The last one I knew was PDM workgroup. In my view, SolidWorks is still running bunch of customers using this solution, but nobody is taking database-less solution seriously these days. Most of PDM and PLM applications are running on MS SQL and Oracle databases. Despite PLM power of IBM, I haven’t seen any significant usage if DB2 for PDM/PLM. Another interesting quote, I found about HANA is related to competition. According to author it will take few more years until Microsoft and Oracle will be able to catchup.

SAP has taken a big step ahead of rivals IBM, Microsoft and Oracle with the announcement on Thursday that its in-memory database called HANA is now ready to power the German software maker’s business applications. The pronouncement is sure to darken the mood of competitors, who one analyst says will need several years to match what SAP has accomplished.

I’ve been writing about HANA and applications before on my blog. Take a look here. Also, you can find lots of interesting resources online here. Applications of HANA database are interesting and when it comes to analyzes of massive amount of data makes a lot of sense in context of product development and manufacturing.

For SAP customers, HANA-powered applications can speed up the sales process dramatically. For example, today when salespeople for a large manufacturer takes a large order from a customer, they may not be to say on the spot exactly when the order will be fulfilled. That information often comes hours later after the numbers are run separately through forecasting applications.

What is my conclusion? Customers are interested in real solutions that can save money to them. Technology is less relevant in that case. Ability to answer practical questions is more important. SAP has money and customers. Many years, SAP is using database solution from main competitors – Oracle and Microsoft. Will SAP be able to pull new technology to revolutionize this market? Will Microsoft, Oracle and open source databases will be able to catch up this game? An interesting question to ask these days… Just my thoughts.

Best Oleg

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