On Tuesday, German software giant SAP unveiled a new version of HANA, the company's bread-and-butter database, as well as a new marketplace that will let HANA customers selectively add new "micro-services" or software capabilities to their database as needed.
Micro-services, as the name implies, are small but potentially useful pieces of software or specialized data streams that can be pulled into other programs. If you have an application that crunches data from a variety of sources, but want to add additional information to the mix, say on topographical structures of the Earth or weather patterns from an organization like the European Space Agency, you can do that provided the ESA makes that data available from satellite imaging. And so it does.
Marie Goodell, SAP's (sap) vice president of marketing, says one HANA customer, Munich ReInsurance, uses that data to help its customers in agriculture, utilities, and land management assess risks of fire and other possible disasters.
One such use is by the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, which has been troubled by forest fires. This application tracks the propensity for fire damage in different locations. "It doesn't just show a map but layers of earth, soil, water beneath the soil by scanning deeply, and that helps them know which areas are most prone to fire," said Goodell.
The ability to add these data sources as needed and pay for them based on usage and amount of data could be very useful to companies, said Carl Olofson, research vice president at IDC, a market research firm.
The marketplace is out now, while the updated database itself, SAP HANA 2, will be broadly available on Nov. 30, Goodell said. All of the news is coming out of SAP's TechEd conference in Barcelona this week.
For the many organizations that have to run big reports based on their weekly, monthly, or quarterly results, HANA 2 will let them take a secondary copy of the database, one that is typically used just for replicating data or backup, and activate it just to create those reports without impacting operations of the primary database.
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SAP, based in Waldorf, Germany, has long been a leader in what is called enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that big companies use to manage their manufacturing processes and track inventory. Historically, many of those ERP systems relied on Oracle (orcl) databases. But as Oracle started to move onto SAP's turf more than 10 years ago, SAP responded: by getting extremely serious about its own fast, in-memory database. That is HANA.
Now, if you ask an SAP exec a question, any question about its business, the answer is likely to be HANA, not unlike IBM executives with Watson.
In-memory databases tend to be faster than traditional databases that shipped data to and from hard disk storage as they operated. The SAP-Oracle rivalry continues apace, and is one of the drivers behind Oracle's planned $9.3 billion purchase of NetSuite (n). NetSuite offers ERP software to small and mid-sized companies.