SAP HANA CEP ‘breakthrough’

A hardware/software combo, the High Performance Analytic Appliance, heralds a ‘back to the future’ move from loosely coupled web-services to ‘big iron’ systems with terabytes of memory.

In a webcast this month, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka unveiled the latest buzz-cum-breakthrough to hit the business intelligence scene, ‘in-memory’ processing of high volume data streams a.k.a. complex event processing. SAP’s High-Performance Analytic Appliance ‘HANA’ is a hardware and software combo that can scale from a few hundred to 1,000 plus cores and beyond, enabling ‘massive parallelism for enterprise applications.’

According to Sikka, the first HANA-enabled applications have demonstrated the ‘disruptive’ nature of the new technology and the ‘unprecedented’ speed of in-memory computing. HANA has also shown-up the ‘latency’ of clients’ current IT systems. HANA promises to wipe out layers of IT complexity and goes beyond real time to be a foundation for SAP’s next generation applications in planning, forecasting and ‘big data.’

Delivered on a high end cluster from suppliers such as IBM and HP, HANA exposes terabytes of memory for compute-intense tasks. SAP claims HANA pilots have shown a 1,000 fold speedup for common business scenarios. CEP is of course not new, Microsoft, OSIsoft and others have offerings in this space (OITJ May 2009). Moreover, HANA’s big iron appliance-based approach is not limited to SAP. Oracle, Teradata and Netezza have similar offerings.

An SAP TechED presentation earlier this year featured an application that presages HANA usage in the oil and gas vertical. The SAP Oil & Gas Dashboard is currently built on a NetWeaver, BusinessObjects and Sybase stack. A demo showed real time data streaming from Norwegian oil rigs where around 600,000 sensor events are recorded per minute. ‘Very low’ bandwidth between the rigs and the central office mandated that high volume processing was performed offshore, in real time, with the SAP complex event processing (CEP) stack. The solution has allowed Statoil to drill-down through summary field-level data to pinpoint an underperforming well and fix compressor problems in a timely manner.

Under the hood, SAP’s CEP development environment was configured to track and monitor significant real-time events. Today, this can take a lot of ‘painful programming,’ in SAP’s ‘NetWeaver’ web services-based environment along with the ‘EventInsight’ CEP enterprise portal component.

The HANA concept, as Sikka states, does indeed sound disruptive, heralding a possible retreat from ‘loosely coupled’ sluggish web services-based enterprise systems to hardwired systems with gigabyte per second processing bandwidth. In fact, if HANA is half as good as it sounds, those most ‘disrupted’ may be SAP’s current business intelligence customers—but it will be in a good cause! More from

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2010 Issue # 12.

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