SAP moves into database space

12 Apr 2012

Dr Vishal Sikka, SAP executive board in charge of technology and innovation

Enterprise software player SAP has unveiled aggressive plans to grow its presence in the database software and mobile apps markets.

Calling itself a “database company”, SAP is firmly eyeing rival Oracle and intends to become the second-placed vendor in that market within three years. It’s the culmination of a strategy which saw the German software house acquire Sybase for US$5.8bn in 2010.

SAP claims its data processing tool, code named Hana, is the fastest-growing product in the company’s history. SAP founder and member of its executive board Dr Hasso Plattner claimed the in-memory database is “100,000 times faster than before”.

Currently, many customers of SAP run its well-established ERP product on databases from other providers such as IBM or Oracle. SAP announced a fund of US$337m aimed at enticing such customers to switch to Hana with consultancy services and an 18-month refund offer.

According to early reports, the engineering work needed to make Hana suitable for running ERP hasn’t been completed yet; the tool is currently best used for analytics work.

SAP said the move to integrate its products with those from Sybase would be “evolutionary and non-disruptive”. The company said its vision is to provide a single, real-time platform for all transaction and analytics workloads.

Dr Vishal Sikka, a member of SAP’s executive board in charge of technology and innovation, said the move is also intended to position the company for the latest IT trend: big data.

“SAP’s vision is focused on enabling a paradigm shift in data management: transforming enterprise IT departments from complex and slow landscapes – struggling to deliver on organisational objectives – to a simplified architecture that enables new classes of ‘big data’, cloud and mobile applications in addition to renewing existing applications non-disruptively,” Sikka said.

In a related development, SAP also announced a US$155m venture fund to promote development of apps that are compatible with Hana technology, putting the database capability in the hands of smartphone users.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic