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SAP still faces customer about confusion over Hana, its in memory database, and one of the company's key products.

SAP has a problem. During the SAP Insider tour in Nice last week, the vendor's product lead, Steve Lucas, asked the audience of customers and end-users to raise their hands if they had heard of SAP Hana for cloud platform. Around two thirds of the room's arms went up. 

"But how many of you know what that means?" He adds. Only a couple of arms remained.

SAP's three-year Hana sell has created 6,000 customers, it claims. But its new ERP on the cloud - S/4, which is powered by the in-memory database has caused some confusion; as has its new cloud platform. 

"There is confusion over Hana, and we can always do more to explain what exactly each one can do for you", admits SAP's cross platform product marketing vice president Matthias Haendly in an interview with ComputerworldUK during the event.

In a nutshell, Haendly describes the Hana Cloud platform as the go-to for customers who want to "extend" on premise SAP tools and cloud solutions.

"For example, a customer can create a website on the platform using data fed from their oragnisation's on-premise applications and use extensions to get more out of what they already have."

The Hana for cloud platform is SAP's answer to rival vendor's offer of a lower monthly base and usage fee along with a "quicker start". Hana is the underlying in-memory database to power the applications, and S/4 is the latest package of these applications, in replacement of the traditional ECC in favour for a cloud-based IT environment.

But why do you need the underlying Hana engine?

"Hana's in-memory allows you to organise your landscape and free up resources", Haendly says. "At a great speed."

Arguably, firms not inclined to migrate can invest time into refining how they use their existing SAP Landscape to speed up reporting, for example, like Jaguar Land Rover

However, even higher speeds really matter for firms that are changing their business model.

"If you look at how Hana brings reporting and transaction systems closer together you can see how it will affect business models.Traditional rollbase designs for transaction performance and calendar reporting structures were previously limited. Now it is pushing back repoerting needs into the same system and replacing batch jobs with online transactions; getting what took hours into seconds or minutes. That creates a completely new user eperience. 

"In IT you can do planning more often, use same cycles for prediction like 'what would happen if i change the parameter for that outcome?' It's tremendously simplified - you can do many tasks in a central system which helps enterprise change their business model. 

"Then you can move toward the cloud using in-memory with flexible deployment. It's basically different trends and we give you all the choices to move into different directions."

Yesterday SAP announced a new service pack for Hana, service pack 10, which supports the latest distribution of Hortonworks and Cloudera's Hadoop - boosting its big data credentials. IoT savvy firms can benefit from the replication between hana an databases closer which should speed up how machines or devices communicate.

Developers can build apps for the IoT using data from remote locations - like a restaurant for example as well as remote locations like pumping stations, vending machines and mines, which more easily be securely captured, accessed and fed back into SAP Hana for analysis. 

Customers can expect to see a new service pack every six months, if its usual cycle continues. 

If trying to make the business case, Haendly says working with Hana as a database is great, but that it functions better as a platform. 

"it brings analytical and transition capabilities together. There is a dynamic tiering of hot and warm data [hot meaning new, insightful data, warm meaning older data that can be paired with a dataset to provide insight]"