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New Series of Topic: The Road to SAP S/4HANA (Part 1)

erp logo_200pxWith the introduction of the new HANA enterprise platform and the new in-memory database SAP HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) at its core, SAP conducts a fundamental paradigm shift which is also reflected in the new SAP S/4HANA solution. SAP S/4HANA leverages the benefits of the SAP HANA database and provides companies with faster processing lower data storage requirements, simplified data models and business processes as well as an entire new dimension of support for operational decision-making processes. In the first part of our series we give you an overview of the database SAP HANA and the path to the S/4HANA application.

The history of SAP HANA began in 2005. At this time, SAP researched opportunities to develop new applications for in-memory databases and realized that traditional data-base providers could not meet the necessary requirements. In cooperation with the Hasso-Plattner-Institute at the University of Potsdam and leading chip manufacturers, this resulted in a project aimed at developing a new database design that could exploit the full
potential of the newest generation of multi-core processors in connection with
an RAM-based memory architecture. The goal was to provide a database for
next-generation applications that could read and process very large amounts of data in analytical scenarios in mere seconds, however, can simultaneously be used for calls from transaction-oriented systems for fast reading and writing access.

In 2011, the first version of SAP HANA was released. First, SAP positioned it as a data-mart solution, i. e. as an extract or a copy of a partial data set within a data warehouse (DW). Customers were supposed to be able to extract data from different source systems real-time and create business intelligence reports (BI) and respective applications based on this database. Accordingly, business intelligence applications (and SAP BW) were the first applications to benefit from this fast database solution. In the next step, SAP HANA was used as a so-called side-car database that accelerates certain applications. This is a database that is used parallelly to the primary database of an application system to outsource processing-intensive tasks. At the same time, SAP began to develop further innovative SAP HANA
applications that require high CPU performance, fast data reading and data processing capacities. Examples include Smart Meter Analytics for the analysis of intelligent power networks and Oncolyzer for the analysis of medical data.

With SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA, SAP achieved a major milestone in 2012 when the first complete and running SAP Business Suite application was launched on the new SAP HANA platform. With the release of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA in 2013, SAP completed launching the full functionality of the SAP Business Suite (SAP
ERP, SAP CRM, SAP SCM, SAP BW, etc.) on the new SAP HANA platform. For this purpose, SAP ported all Business Suite applications to the new platform. SAP converted the code so that the performance advantages of the HANA database can be leveraged by the business processes and reporting activities of the traditional applications. Additionally, a significantly better performance – compared to traditional relational databases – is achieved. At this point, SAP was the only software vendor on the market to offer SAP Business Suite customers the ability to combine transactional and analytical applications on a single in-memory platform. Applications migrated from the Business Suite to the HANA platform are usually referred to as “powered by SAP HANA” or “on HANA”, e. g. Suite on HANA (SoH) or SAP BW on HANA. However, SoH should not be confused with SAP S/4HANA.

In 2014, SAP started the development of a new Business Suite. S/4HANA Simple Finance is the starting point for this development. This new application runs natively on SAP HANA and fully exploits the potentials (application simplification, storage requirements reduction, performance
advantages, etc.) of the new database. The entire code of the classic SAP ERP applications SAP FI and SAP CO was written from scratch for this application. Step by step, SAP transferred other SAP Business Suite applications to a new native code which, in 2015, resulted in the first release of SAP S/4HANA (1511), kicking off a fundamentally new SAP Business Suite. In this context, native means that the new code is only executable on the SAP HANA database. This, however, enabled SAP to develop an application that is free from any restrictions imposed by other database providers. In contrast to the classic Business Suite (also referred to as “Suite on AnyDB”), S/4HANA does not have to run on multiple database solutions, thus simplifying its data models and application design and avoiding unnecessary code. This also means that companies can use S/4HANA only in combination with the SAP HANA database. SAP customers who would like to use the database solutions of other database providers
can only use the classic Business Suite and must forego the enormous
performance gains and potentials of S/4HANA.

Find out in the next article what SAP S/4HANA is and which advantages it has.

                                                                                             by Gohar Zatrjan

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