Still, so far SAP is not positioning its in-memory engine as a full replacement for customers' main database, which is Oracle in many SAP shops. But that may change as SAP's technology matures.
In the meantime, SAP's in-memory application strategy stands to give it products to sell that customers seem eager to buy, as business intelligence sales remained solid during the global recession.
While SAP has laid out an ambitious vision for in-memory technology, and has a broad foundation on which to build next-generation capabilities, much work lies remains to be done, according to Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus.
For one, SAP has two sets of data-processing technologies, with HANA -- Business Warehouse and Business Warehouse Acceleration on one hand and the Sybase IQ database on the other. The products currently have minimal integration, although future releases will address that issue, Kobielus said via e-mail.
A step in this direction will occur later this year when the second version of HANA is released and SAP's Business Warehouse platform is ported to HANA, simplifying its deployment, according to Sikka.
HANA in its current incarnation is also limited by its primary focus on existing SAP customers, and technical limitations such as a lack of "query predicate pushdown and efficient compression to an intelligent storage layer (which are core features of both Oracle Exadata and IBM Netezza TwinFin)," Kobielus said.
In addition, HANA so far "does not address the price-competitiveness issue that prevent SAP from competing head-on with Oracle Exadata and IBM Netezza TwinFin for new accounts," Kobielus added. "SAP has not addressed the need to provide low-cost [data warehousing] appliances for the midmarket."
It's also likely that SAP is not done building out its family of analytics-related technology, and will make acquisitions in areas like information lifecycle management and even hardware, Kobielus said.
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