How did it come about that Imtech placed its bets on the Hana trend so early and how did Imtech acquire Hana skills?
Robert Poell, managing director at Imtech ICT Austria: Imtech recognised the importance of SAP Hana very early on and seeded this platform and its innovation drivers with our clients. In this way, the first Hana project in the world was realised with Red Bull. A little later, the first implementation of the SAP suite on Hana took place for Neckermann.at in the data centres of Imtech in Austria. Imtech started very early with Hana training and certification of its own experts in the areas of technology and infrastructure, SAP application consulting and application management, and in the SAP basis operation team, which is one of the largest teams of its kind in Austria with 23 members. This team is responsible for the operations of 20,000 SAP clients at our national and international customers including a few instances of Hana. Through this breadth of necessary competence and experience, Imtech is able to look at Hana in global terms, provide advice from a single source, implement efficiently and operate economically.
What does this mean within the SAP community?
Poell: This unique positioning is also seen and acknowledged as such by SAP. SAP recently distinguished Imtech with its “Database & Technology Partner of the Year 2013” award. SAP said in its tribute: “Imtech invested early in SAP Hana and made this technology an important component of its SAP strategy. At the beginning of 2013, Imtech was able to complete the first suite on Hana. Imtech is the first partner in Austria with Hana support certification and a major driver of this SAP technology platform. Imtech thus is a model for other SAP partners.”
How do you assess the development of Hana as a foundation for SAP Business Warehouse and suite on Hana?
Poell: Business Warehouse powered by Hana is the logical continuation of BWA and should be integrated into the entire suite as the next step to the platform. Suite on Hana is a strategic decision for our new customers – also medium-sized enterprises – and offers with its many Hana-specific applications, such as all-round SAP Fiori, an important basis for new business processes. Because of our outstanding expertise, existing customers rely on Imtech to analyse the potential of using Hana with their current processes.
At the beginning of May, SAP chief technology officer Vishal Sikka surprised everyone by leaving. In part, there will be a new start and adoption of the Hana roadmap under his designated successor, Bernd Leukert. What does Imtech wish for the coming Hana development?
Poell: As an SAP partner, Imtech would like greater collaboration with SAP in order to drive new technology. Imtech regards the development of the Hana ecosystem, in which all of the named competence areas are addressed from a single source, as essential for the success of Hana in the marketplace. Imtech customers today complain about the one-sided SAP licensing approach. Further, Imtech is desirous of an ongoing partner oriented approach from SAP . There should be clear rules of play for SAP and for the partners – with which both parties would naturally comply. This should contribute to keeping as low as possible a potential reduction in competitive friction between SAP’s own cloud offerings and those of its partners in a reasonable co-habitation mode for their mutual benefit. In this way, partners will invest in SAP Hana and the cloud in the future.
How stable and secure is Hana? In a mission-critical environment, such as a retail, this question likely carries a great deal of weight. What have HDS and Imtech undertaken to guarantee a secure, operating Hana operation at Spar?
Poell: Imtech selected the system architecture so that all measures were taken with regard to high availability and disaster recovery to ensure smooth and trouble-free operation. The experience at Imtech with SAP Hana projects and operating the Hana system landscape over the past years has contributed in important ways to making the system architecture suitable for fulfilling all of the availability requirements at Spar.
Other database providers are always saying that Hana lacks essential components for secure and functioning operations. No one doubts that Hana is fast. How does Imtech view this criticism from other database providers? Is Hana secure and stable?
Poell: The operation of an SAP Hana system landscape demands expertise, but it is – keyword: consistency . The greatest challenge currently is that many further developments are taking place in a very short period of time. These have to first find a place in a maintenance window – including thorough testing.
Spar naturally has a disaster recovery data centre. What does the Hana system architecture look like for this? In general: How does one design an Hana system with failover and disaster recovery?
Poell: The SAP Hana system architecture leaves nothing to be desired with regard to high availability and disaster recovery solutions. Hardware-based solutions as well as – one level higher – Hana software-based solutions are possible. Standby Hana nodes are a proven tool – within a data centre site as well as between two sites. In a disaster recovery scenario, the non-production environment takes over the production Hana environment.
The visionary Spar IT head Andreas Kranabitl spoke about “real-time retail” – in other words a retail system responding in real time. From the point of view of the technology, when will it be possible to implement this concept? What does SAP still have to deliver as far as Imtech is concerned?
Poell: SAP has a customer in Spar, which is an ideal fit for implementing “real-time retail” within the retail strategy of SAP. Spar will take this path, and SAP has to do as much as they can to actively support the customer. The active integration of the Spar strategic service partner, in this case Imtech, is an important factor for success. The path to real-time retail has been sketched out independent of more or fewer SAP products – SAP has a suitable strategy for this in many areas. Spar sets the pace, and the demands in the marketplace tell us that Mr Kranabitl is right.
Final question: What is Imtech’s assessment of the combination of HDS and Hana? How should an existing SAP customer evaluate the selection process for a hardware provider? Please provide a few tips for the SAP community.
Poell: HDS recognised the opportunity for companies around Hana. Clear vision, focus, management attention on such an important project, the ad hoc availability of the right technology and the qualified specialists are the key to success.