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How to select the best DBMS software: A buyer's guide

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SAP HANA in-memory DBMS overview

SAP HANA is an in-memory DBMS and application platform designed to handle high transaction rates and complex queries using one data copy.

SAP HANA is a column-oriented, in-memory relational DBMS. HANA is architected to enable applications to support both transactional and analytical processing on a single system with one copy of the data. 

The DBMS, which runs on SUSE Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, enables real-time analytics on transactional systems on a large scale and on a variety of data, including structured, unstructured, spatial, time series and streaming data. It provides features that support development for SAP and custom-built applications. SAP HANA combines database, advanced analytics (predictive, spatial, text analytics, sentiment analysis, search), enterprise information management (bulk load, real-time replication, transformation, cleansing) and application server capabilities all running in-memory, on one data copy and on a single platform.

SAP HANA supports multi-tenancy and data tiering, which enables petabyte-scale deployments for warm data (data that's less frequently accessed) to be stored on the disk, and offers a choice of deployment models and partners. The DBMS can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or as a hybrid of both.

SAP HANA features

Version SPS12 of SAP HANA, which was released in May, offers several new key features. The ability to capture and replay workloads to compare runtimes across environments makes change management easier to test and implement. This new version also lets database administrators easily enable or disable workload classes to support business changes such as month-end processing.

Multi-tenant support is improved with near zero downtime cloning and moving of tenants, audit logging for cross-tenant scenarios and more granular monitoring details. System replication is also improved with more flexibility when choosing combinations of synchronous and asynchronous replication among tiers.

The SAP HANA Cockpit has been significantly improved with new configuration and monitoring options, the ability to schedule backup jobs and enhanced security administration capabilities. Security improvements include password policy and blacklist management, auditing configuration and management, and data volume encryption management.

From an application development perspective, the new version delivers improvements in text mining and spatial processing, support for graph data processing, and the SAP Web Integration Development Environment adds cross-object impact analysis and lineage analysis.

The SAP HANA in-memory DBMS has three major components: Application services, database services and integration services (including developer APIs). SAP HANA Extended Application Services (XS) provides a small-footprint application server, Web server with server-side JavaScript support and basis for an application development platform. XS is integrated into SAP HANA and isn't separate software.

XS includes Fiori UI libraries (based on Open UI5) to enable customers to develop consumer-grade Web applications accessible from any device.

The database services component provides the core DBMS engine and database system services, enabling the creation of online transaction processing, online analytical processing and next-generation transaction applications with embedded analytics and predictive capabilities. Concurrency is managed using MVCC, or multi-version concurrency control, whereby each user connected to the database sees a snapshot of the database at a particular pointintime. Any changes made by a writer won't be seen by other users of the database until the transaction has been committed. 

Integration services include smart data access that provides data virtualization and federation, smart data integration and features that enable bulk loading, bi-directional real-time replication, data transformation, data cleansing and streaming data processing capabilities. Remote data synchronization enables companies to sync information between enterprise and remote devices and locations as well as Hadoop integration with HIVE, Spark and direct access to HDFS files and Map Reduce jobs using virtual user-defined functions (vUDF). Developers can use Eclipse-based SAP HANA Studio or Web-based development tools to build applications. SAP Database Control Center and SAP HANA cockpit provide Fiori-based Web tools to administer and monitor HANA from any location or device.

SAP HANA is available in four editions:

  • SAP HANA Base Edition, which provides core database services as well as the development tools, includes business function libraries, predictive libraries and integration with R system.
  • SAP HANA Platform Edition, which is the base edition plus spatial, search, text, analytics, graph engines and additional packaged libraries and development tools.
  • SAP HANA Enterprise Edition, which is the platform edition plus additional bundled components for data provisioning and HANA rule framework.
  • SAP HANA Runtime Edition, which is available for running SAP applications only. This is licensed by application value, rather than memory units.

The SAP HANA in-memory DBMS uses relational access (SQL and Multidimensional eXpressions, or MDX), although it deploys a column-based relational database management system (RDBMS) and supports geospatial, graph, streaming and textual/unstructured data.

SAP HANA licensing and pricing

SAP HANA can be licensed by memory increments, by enterprise license agreements or as a run-time database for SAP applications. Pricing is typically based on memory increments of 64 GB.

The SAP HANA in-memory DBMS is sold by SAP and system integrators, independent software vendors, OEMs and cloud partners.

SAP offers 20 free trial options for various HANA apps, including a 30-day trial for Business Warehouse Powered by HANA and the Amazon Web Services version for SAP HANA One, at 99 cents per hour. Trial periods range from three to 30 days, depending on the product.

SAP offers several levels of support for SAP HANA that range from standard incident support to a customized, collaborative partnership between SAP and the customer.

SAP BW-EML benchmarks using SAP HANA are available to help you gauge the potential impact of HANA's in-memory capabilities against traditional RDBMS performance.

About the author
Craig S. Mullins is a data management strategist, researcher, consultant and author with more than 30 years of experience in all facets of database systems development. He is president and principal consultant of Mullins Consulting Inc. and publisher/editor of TheDatabaseSite.com. Email him at craig@craigmullins.com.

Email us at editor@searchdatamanagement.com and follow us on Twitter: @sDataManagement.

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This was last published in August 2015

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Buyer's Guide

How to select the best DBMS software: A buyer's guide

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Are you considering the SAP HANA in-memory DBMS for deployment in the cloud?
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Hi Craig,
Do you believe that the current relational DBMS, such as DB2, could achieve enough performance results that organizations need if simply configure them with large memory capacity, for example, 512 GB or 1 TB? What do you think about?
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