About this time 2 years ago the former GBN was pulled into the broader ASUG user group, and I was selected into the SAP Mentor program. This was really the first time I had been exposed to the broader SAP community (sorry in advance, broader SAP community) and since that time there has been one common theme in every executive keynote that SAP has been involved in. That theme has been HANA.
It isn't that I don't like HANA. I actually really do. I think it has a ton of potential to create real customer value and to eventually substantially lower the total cost of ownership for many companies. Unfortunately for most companies, eventually isn't quite here yet (and hasn't been on any given day for the last couple of years). Has HANA changed some games? Yes. Has it changed the game? Not quite yet.
Wondering why I care so much about discussions surrounding a database technology that I may well never use? Because it comes at the expense of discussing some fantastic, ready-to-use and reasonably-affordable database technologies that I may use. Everyone knows SAP bought Sybase for mobility, but the real jewel of the deal, at least to me, was the opportunity to hurt Oracle where it hurt -- by turning off Oracle database licenses and turning on Sybase database licenses. Unfortunately, it's been very tough to get an SAP executive to talk about Sybase data solutions (except for the occasional throwaway comment) during a keynote since the acquisition. That all changed this morning during BI2012 when the keynote given by Steve Lucas and Timo Elliott included a demo of data being held virtually and in the cloud by Sybase IQ. That in fact carried over to a HANA-specific microforum where Lucas spoke candidly about how the HANA/ASE/IQ technologies fit together into a unified portfolio.
I think SAP did a brilliant thing by finally folding some Sybase products (ASE, IQ, Replication Server, SQL Anywhere) under an umbrella that really genuinely included a product that was developed in-house (HANA). That meant that the people in one database sales organization aren't trying to sell their SAP database products against different SAP database products that happened to fall under a different part of the field sales organization. This gives an SAP account representative the flexibility to actual provide their customer with an optimal solution. Crazy, I know.
SAP stated that it would be the #2 spot in the database market by 2015. HANA alone wasn't going to do that. With an integrated portfolio that includes relational, columnar, mobile, and in-memory options -- and some work in truly integrating them with each other and into their full analytics stack -- I think they may actually have a chance.