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Back in 2013, IBM launched DB2 Blu, a column-oriented version of its database. How did the SAP market take to this technology?
Mezger: The DB2 Blu in-memory technology was actually accepted very quickly and extensively by the market because we ensured that it could be used with existing SAP applications right out of the box.
Blu is part of the DB2 AESE license, certified by SAP, so many DB2 customers are now using Blu in-memory technology with no additional licensing or maintenance costs.
We are getting a lot of positive feedback and actively investing in further development of the technology as part of our DB2 roadmap. And in terms of SAP Core Data Services too.
And what about license costs?
Mezger: I consider license costs as just one element of the overall cost, so we aim to protect customers’ investments and make innovations possible with minimized resource consumption.
Our goal is to reduce additional spending for SAP Systems with DB2 as most existing hardware in place can continued to be used. The customer has a choice for Blu in-memory technology between Windows, Linux or AIX.
We also offer similar options with DB2 zOS on mainframes. Our customers have confirmed to us acceleration by factor 55 for SAP BW queries, for example, and substantial storage space savings thanks to efficient compression like further 63 percent on data that has already been compressed, all coupled with attractive licensing and operating costs.
This is the advantage of open competition and I would call on the community to exercise their right to compare products!
SAP has announced the deadline for using the SAP NetWeaver-based Business Suite with AnyDBs. As of 2025, they will no longer be providing support for the Suite on AnyDB. What will happen before this date? What do you think customers may do?
Kuppler: By stating when they will withdraw support, SAP has drawn a line in the sand. As it has already been said, the market will decide whether the goals will be achieved in 2025 or not.
If the rate of switching from AnyDBs to Hana or S/4 does not speed up in the long term, we can assume a much later date.
What are your plans?
Kuppler: Oracle will continue to support the SAP Business Suite and SAP BW for as long as SAP intends to do so in any case. Oracle can confirm that SAP is also able to support the Oracle database for SAP customers until 2025 and beyond.
SAP wanted to use Hana to create various unique application selling points, i.e. functionalities that only benefit Hana users. It’s a fact that SAP customers emphatically also want to see these functionalities in a “non-Hana environment”.
And what has happened? The Core Data Services and Hana SAP BW-optimized InfoCubes – also known as FlatCubes at Oracle – can be used in conjunction with Oracle Database In-Memory, see SAP Note 2335159.
Mezger: I believe that it’s the customers and their business needs which will define their end of their Business Suite. We see 2025 merely as a “Statement of Direction” and it is self-evident that we are prepared to support our DB2 customers for as long as they ask for.
Even customers who no longer want to use Business Suite systems will still need to access old data if requested by auditors. We also provide flexible licensing modules to even meet such requirements.
A large number of SAP customers use Oracle solutions such as the database, Exadata Database Machine or Oracle SuperCluster, both for SAP and many non-SAP applications. How is the combination of say Oracle Database and Hana regulated?
Kuppler: A lot of customers are using both – both Oracle Database on Exadata in the ECC environment and SAP BW with Hana.
One and the same customer may well be a reference speaker at Oracle OpenWorld using Oracle Exadata and 12c for his SAP system and using Hana with SAP BW at Sapphire in Orlando, USA.
SAP customers who are running both ECC and BW with Hana are very, very rare and are a bit of a “black swan”.
Mr. Kuppler, many thanks for your time. Mr. Mezger, is there still the possibility of IBM Power being combined with DB2? What are the chances of this happening?
Mezger: IBM Power is our home brand among the large Unix providers. Our “Co-Innovation Roadmap” with IBM Power is bursting at the seams. For the roadmap let me just mention Blockchain as an important topic in the future.
This will see commercial transactions being redefined at digital level and IBM Blockchain will be adopted by SAP customers. It goes without saying that we maintain a very close working relationship between these IBM groups.
Our developers at our IBM Research and Development Center in Böblingen, Germany, were key influencers on the Power8 architecture and command set, and our SAP DB2 customers on AIX have long appreciated this.
One example of this is accelerated hardware-assisted NX842 compression of backup and log files by Power8 processors. In internal tests, NX842 compression was the variant for SAP backups that came out fastest and used the fewest resources.
It achieved a high rate of compression and as a result space saving of 40 percent on backups. In the future, compression and encryption technologies will gain further importance and this extensive integration already exists here.
In turn, our systems will be safer. What’s more, thanks to IBM Power’s PowerVM virtualization technology, the IBM Analytics Private Cloud strategy can be seamlessly implemented.
In the long term, we want to be able to offer our customers the same advantages they know from Public Cloud, right in their own data center.
And lastly, a special but a hot topic right now for the SAP community: The perils of SAP licensing – indirect usage costs? If users aren’t aware of what data they are exchanging between SAP and non-SAP-systems, they may be in for a nasty surprise. Indirect use can result in costly additional licensing. Alongside the licensing metrics of SAP, don’t users need to come to grips with their own systems?
Mezger: I firmly believe that customers should prioritize their understanding of system licensing. When this involves SAP systems, it’s a full-time job forming a vital part of each IT decision-maker’s knowledge-base.
They need to bear licensing in mind whenever even minor contractual changes occur. In this respect, we want to offer license options whereby data can be unleashed from these systems and not locked into silos by artificial barriers.
Because – in the long run data will freely flow in Hadoop architectures and open Apache Spark systems.
The future professions dominating these areas, such as Data Scientists and the Chief Data Officers, have absolutely no sympathy for these silos. At least this is the feedback we have from our IBM Data Science Experience Community, DSX.
Mr. Mezger, many thanks for your time too.
This is the last part of a series! If you would like to read the first one, click here.