During SAPPHIRE 2014, I spoke with several business leaders at large companies in the process of modernizing enterprise technology.
Many of them told me that as part of their strategy, they had bought licenses for SAP HANA, but that they haven’t begun using them yet.
The executives gave a variety of reasons for the delay in implementation of SAP HANA; some hadn’t completed the necessary upgrades, while others, having no imminent plans of migration to SAP HANA, simply believed that the current attractive license costs wouldn’t last. Others still felt they had more urgent business priorities to attend to before tackling this intensive task.
There is a clear business case that justifies transforming your enterprise software with HANA; it’s a step that, with the right processes, will take performance to a new level and free up resources to tackle other priorities more effectively. Despite their differing circumstances, my advice to the executives was mostly the same: don’t delay!
Most of the questions I got can be brought down to four common themes:
“Won’t implementing HANA tie up resources that could otherwise be put towards enhancements and innovation?”
This is a common question, and the answer is, it shouldn’t. With the right partner and effective project management, companies regardless of scale are able to transform their enterprise environment using their existing human capital and resources. With proper planning they can do this in a matter of weeks, on multiple concurrent projects, and without disruption to ongoing business operations. Then, in the future, thanks to the performance enhancements brought about by HANA, more effective projects and endeavors will be possible with fewer resources.
“Will it really be faster? I’m told that basic implementations do not result in 10000-fold performance boosts.”
Yes, but as with a powerful sports car where the engine, the suspension, the weight distribution must all be precisely calibrated, your software infrastructure needs fine tuning to get the most out of HANA.
Start by properly assessing existing custom ABAP code, which can be done with an SAP HANA readiness analysis. It will be critical to ensure the code is HANA Code Compliant (HCC) and HANA Performance Optimized (HPO), processes that will actually benefit all RDBMS systems, even before implementing HANA.
The key to getting those 10000-fold performance boosts comes by pushing basic business functionality – the vast number of instructions and queries made on your data – from the application level to the in-memory HANA level, where things happen right away, not overnight.
As an analogy, imagine that operations taking place in-memory are like going across the street and returning in a few minutes. In comparison, accessing a hard disc for an operation is like flying to the moon – it takes days. With the appropriate changes in your applications, process speeds can increase thousands of times over.
“My staff is not trained to optimize our source code to achieve these kinds of performance gains.”
A reasonable concern, but companies really already spend far too much of their programmers’ time on code refactoring and legacy system sustainment. Automating refactoring and code optimization processes dramatically reduces the timeframe of any code freeze, while completely removing human error from the loop. The right transformation techniques can therefore save months and thousands of work hours, which can be put to use on other projects. smartShift Technologies created a tool specifically for this purpose, called smartDevelop. It guides developers managing code-refactoring projects and helps eliminate unwanted and obsolete code.
“Will my business simply become mired in a massive project with unforeseen complications, becoming a suck for time and resources?”
A project on this scale will often appear daunting, but it’s important to keep the business rationale for the initiative in mind. The technical advantages of HANA’s in-memory computing, online analytical processing and enhanced compression have an indisputable and immediate impact on your business’ productivity metrics.
This means compiling reports in seconds, not hours; performing high-volume updates, while doing complex aggregations and queries on the same data simultaneously; amending data models on the fly combining structured and unstructured textual input for sub-second responses.
All this leads to very beneficial follow-on effects like massive time savings, greater accuracy and deeper real time insights into organizational performance, improved prediction and modeling capabilities, more rapid prototyping, and of course, faster response time with customers and their transactions.
Remember, these improvements don’t even take into account the hours and human effort that many businesses still spend on the upkeep of their enterprise systems. Your employees will thank you for implementing HANA – nobody became a software engineer so they could spend their lives refactoring old code.
With the right approach, enterprise modernization enables you to move precious resources away from maintaining legacy systems, and devote them towards new, innovative projects. This makes your business more effective and keeps your customers happy. Any business that fails to recognize the need to modernize risks being left behind – not just by other businesses, but also by customers who can find effective, affordable solutions elsewhere.