When referencing Hitachi Data Systems, analysts speak of a new shooting star in the SAP Hana scene. The fact is that HDS brings to the table optimum qualifications from the outset to realise one of the leading Hana infrastructures among SAP existing customers.
The meticulous selection process at Spar has shown that Hitachi Data Systems has a considerable commercial, organisational and technological lead compared to all of the other competitors. E-3 editor-in-chief Peter M. Faerbinger spoke with Matthias Czwikla, vice president Global SAP Field Alliance at HDS about the new possibilities for SAP Hana and Hitachi Data Systems.
From a commercial standpoint, Hana is seen as the key to the real-time enterprise. How important do SAP “real-time” applications appear to be for you?
Matthias Czwikla: In business, the only companies that achieve a competitive advantage are those which recognise changes quickly and can act flexibly. The Hitachi vision is to drive and accelerate innovation through information. Real time is particularly important because it has to do with making strategic and tactical decisions, for example through Hana, as close to real time as possible in order to seize business opportunities. Real-time decisions are especially important for evaluating point-of-sale data when making demand forecasts. Such evaluations were previously not possible, since the processing of the data sometimes took days – too long for any useful implementation based on the information gathered. Now it takes just minutes. In this way, for example, it is possible to avoid overstock situations – in other words, a large inventory of unsold goods.
SAP Hana started as an in-memory database for SAP Business Warehouse. Today, SAP Hana is available for the entire SAP business suite. Does that make sense commercially?
Czwikla: The availability of the business suite on Hana opens a large potential for consolidation. It is now possible to carry out certain analyses of transactional data in real time. Among other things, this opens up the potential for carrying out a landscape consolidation on Hana. The complexity of an IT environment can thus be reduced considerably. The access to transactional data in real time becomes easier.
The in-memory database Hana is a young technology. Isn’t that a danger for an operational SAP enterprise?
Czwikla: There are thousands of customers worldwide that have Hana in their operations; now two-years old, the solution is not really that young anymore. In a very short time, SAP has managed to introduce a real, high-performance technology, which users are increasingly going to for new implementations. Every investment in old technology is a wasted investment. HDS reduces the level of risk in the area of operations through decades of technology leadership in the enterprise storage and enterprise computing sector.
Which data protection capabilities does Hitachi Data Systems infrastructure offer Hana?
Czwikla: High availability, failover over several data centres, encryption modules directly in the memory, disaster tolerance and backup – and all at the enterprise level. HDS is one of the few providers, which is certified for synchronous as well as asynchronous disaster tolerance in data centres.
Hana is ultimately a synonym for a complex transformation of the SAP architecture. How important are providers and partners here that can offer servers, storage and licenses from a single source, like HDS?
Czwikla: Hitachi Data Systems is the only SAP partner that can offer a complete solution for Hana – in other words, the servers and storage along with the necessary licenses – from a single source. In addition, the deep integration of the global solution, even including support, has its advantages – this creates an optimally coordinated package.
Automobiles are sold as a complete unit and not separately as body, engine and tires. Through this, the complexity for the user is lowered. Joint-management of the platform reduces operating costs and risks while reducing the workload of the IT department and securing strategic capacities.
From your experience and the specifications at Spar, where does the future of the suite on Hana lie: on premise or on-demand via cloud?
Czwikla: The basic question is: What competitive advantages can an enterprise achieve through an on-premise or internal operation of a solution, which has become a standard. For a large enterprise with a tailored operation, the on-premise, in-house solution can be attractive; for small and medium-sized enterprises, outsourcing to cloud providers could be less expensive.
However, it is ultimately always an individual-case decision, which depends on many criteria: costs, data security, legal specifications, flexibility, etc. What is interesting, however, is that users often do not even want to go into the cloud but for Opex reasons are often left without a choice. HDS can guide the step into the cloud with technology and expertise. With the tailor-made solution were on-premise and on-demand efficiently combined.
Finally and strategically, are HDS and Hana more than “just” fast and large enough for “big data?”
Czwikla: Yes. To be precise, the advantage is not just the speed, but rather the choice of a scalable, reliable and easy to manage platform that has future-proof technology and will work in the long-term. Customers like Spar choose the right partnership for long-term “business defined IT”. The basis is the congruent HDS vision of “accelerate innovation with information.”