We sat down with Jacob Klein, VP Product Management, Data and Analytic Engines and head of the SAP HANA project, to clarify what in-memory and HANA are and why they are important to SAP and customers. Here’s a summary of what we learned:
In the 1990s, SAP became the world’s third-largest software firm by leading the shift from mainframe computing to networks of smaller machines. Enterprise computing is once again going through an important change: as memory chips get cheaper, more are being packed into servers. This means that companies, instead of having to store their data on separate disks, can put most of the data into their servers’ short-term memory, where it can be accessed and manipulated faster and more easily. This is known as “in-memory computing.”
In-memory technology is already widespread in systems that simply analyze data, but using it to help process transactions is a bigger step. With SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance (SAP HANA), we are introducing a unique approach to building analytic applications that will run directly on top of large volumes of transactional data — offering customers instant visibility into their businesses.
What we’re doing with HANA is starting with an in-memory database and expanding that to provide deeper integration with the application server so that it will be possible to build more sophisticated, industry-specific applications that are designed natively for in-memory, beyond business intelligence scenarios.
 One such application, slated for delivery next year, is smart meter analytics, which will enable utilities to manage their power supply and demand in near real time.  Next year we’ll also see a couple of applications in the retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) space. One is an application aimed at trade promotion planning, which will help CPG and retail companies to make more effective decisions about when to offer promotions and special offers.
 Throughout the process thus far, we have been working very closely with customers to figure out what types of scenarios would make the most sense to do with an in-memory database. Customers have also helped us by providing real-world customer data, scenarios and some very specific “asks” around queries that the customer wants to do on top of those scenarios. They have helped us define and refine the engine capability and we plan to continue to co-innovate with an expanding set of customers who are equally excited about the potential of in-memory and SAP HANA.