This year was my tenth SAPPHIRE, and also the tenth time that Hasso started to talked about HANA. It was in the 2005/6 timeline when a senior executive at SAP Labs walked up to a whiteboard and wrote one number: 2010. The room of architects was puzzled – what did 2010 signify? This, he explained, was when Moore’s law predicted that server architecture would be able to run a typical large-scale database in-memory. The Hasso Plattner Institute had already completed initial prototypes of an in-memory database, and they knew the race was on to build a new database architecture: the clock was ticking.

Bill Gates famously said “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”. Another thing is for sure: SQL databases are hard to build. The main reason for this is that the ANSI SQL is really complicated. The SQL:1999 standard, for example, is over 1000 pages long. It has been 8 years since we released SAP HANA 1.0 to the market, and we just released HANA 2.0 SP03.

During these 8 years we added an incredible amount of functionality: HA, DR, integrated engines, for search, graph, spatial, text. We integrated the XS and XSA application servers, data quality, and streaming. We then added predictive and machine learning capabilities, and

We are now focused on building the Digital Platform for the Intelligent Enterprise, powered by the SAP HANA Data Management Suite and the Cloud Platform.

Why do I mention all of this? in SAPPHIRE 2018, I now see customers, at scale, doing the most incredible things with SAP HANA. I can’t show you all of them, because there were around 600 sessions at SAPPHIRE focused on HANA, but here are my personal favorites, in no particular order.

Gustave Roussy Cancer Research

This is one of the most incredible stories I have heard: Fabien Calvo, Chief Scientific Officer at French Cancer Research Center Gustave Roussy joined me on stage to discuss what they are doing with SAP HANA. They connect the biological, molecular, genomic, radiation, surgery and pharmaceutical treatment data generated at the center, and with SAP Connected Health platform running on SAP HANA and SAP Medical Research Insights, Gustave Roussy can integrate different data types: electronic medical reports, demographics, biological data; genomic data; text analysis; imaging, including (in the future) radiology and pathology.

Amazing work – no wonder they were a winner of a SAP HANA Innovation Award!

Siemens PLM Software

Siemens realized that they needed a mechanism to allow their organization to build applications, whilst ensuring that data could be trusted. They used a Hybrid BW/4 and SQL data warehouse – using standard SAP Business Content extractors to pull in SAP data, and Smart Data Integration to bring data from other applications like Essbase.

On top of that, they built a Logical Data Warehouse using the Data Warehouse Foundation, which means they keep a single copy of the data, and all the models are built on top of that, connecting the various data sources into one version of the truth.

They then allow their business units to self-serve by building their own SAP Web IDE-based applications within the HANA platform. This is all integrated with Githib, Jira and Bamboo for application development and testing.

Bryan Hunter from Siemens explains how they did this and how it dramatically simplifies application development.


adidas CIO Michael Voegele describes how they are using sport to change people’s lives. He talks about increasing the speed of the supply chain and building direct relationship with the consumers with SAP Board Member, Adaire Fox-Martin. This is a very business-focused keynote where Michael describes technology as the enabler, and it is of course powered by SAP HANA.

Suiker Unie – Smart Farming

This customer is not only a SAP Innovation Award Winner, but also Huub Watervaal, Chief Executive Officer at Nextview, who joined me on stage, is a member of our Startup Focus program, which provides access to SAP HANA for free, engagement with our 340k customers, support from our experts, all with no financial commitment.

Huub explained to me all about how Suiker Unie was looking for ways to improve sugar beet production. A small increase in production is a dramatic increase in efficiency and therefore margin. They use the HANA Rules Framework to plant the right beet, IoT sensors to predict crop diseases and reduce pesticides, they have an alerting system and are now looking to satellite imagery to further improve production.


Itron are a manufacturer of Smart Meters, and they have partnered with us to deliver the Itron Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (IEE MDM) powered by SAP HANA. Senior Program Director Moustafa Nazif joined me on stage to discuss their solution. Two things about Itron fascinate me in particular.

First, this is a fully functional translytical application (OLTP and OLAP), streaming data from millions of smart meters in real time. There are direct benefits to the solution, in simplicity of application design, and improved analytic capabilities.

Second, I have written about the second derivative effects of technology before, which is the unexpected benefits of technology (Henry Ford could not have predicted the success of Loves Travel Stops, for example, because it is a second derivative effect – highways being the first derivative). This is playing out with Itron – they are just starting to think about the second derivative effects. For example, could you link smart meters to healthcare: we know the customer is elderly, and the lights don’t turn on in the morning, should we call emergency services?


SVP and Head of Fresh Foods at Costco, Jeff Lyons joins SAP Board Member Jen Morgan to tell the story of how Costco are using SAP technologies to reduce waste and predict demand. How do they do that? Of course, with the advanced analytic capabilities and machine learning algorithms using SAP HANA.


When E*TRADE sought to re-platform their system for online trading, they looked to a next-generation DBMS like SAP HANA to solve the problem of application complexity and performance. Director of Operations Technology, Adam Yuan, joined me on stage to discuss how there really wasn’t an alternative to using HANA from his perspective: it was the only enterprise system which was able to dramatically simplify the application.


Dan Exley from MemorialCare joins our GM and Global Head of Platform & Data Management, Irfan Khan, to discuss how MemorialCare used SAP HANA to meet the demands of modern requirements in healthcare, especially in an age where patients expect to have access to data.


Ignacio Garcia, CTO of Vodafone Shared Services, joined me on stage to discuss what the British multinational telecommunications conglomerate is doing with SAP HANA. What is remarkable about this is the sheer breadth and depth of their deployment. They have specific LoB solutions like Fraud Management and Margin Assurance, and they are also in the process of moving their SAP estate onto HANA. Like many SAP application customers, they started with analytics, and are now moving onto the core transactional systems.

Swiss Federal Railways

Last, but not least, SBB produces its own energy to power its trains. To intelligently manage power demand in its railway system, SBB collaborated with SAP Innovative Business Solutions to develop a unique solution, powered by SAP HANA streaming analytics. Monitoring data points in real time throughout the energy network, it identifies peaks when they occur, determines which loads should optimally be switched off, and conveys this information to other systems that automatically turn off heaters in train cars and on railroad switches.

Markus Halder, Head of Power Demand Management Program joined me on stage to discuss how this enables SBB to better utilize its existing power capacity, postponing the need to build new energy infrastructure. Another winner of a SAP Innovation Award.

Final Words

There were 600 sessions at SAPPHIRE that included HANA in the title or abstract, and therefore I have no doubt done an injustice to the other 590. Apologies if I did not list your favorite customer story here, and please include it in the comments!I am overwhelmed by a few things.

First, the sheer breadth, depth, and business value of all of these use cases. They have a human impact, an ecological impact, a financial impact, and in most cases those things are not achieved to the detriment of another. At SAP, our purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, and often these sorts of purpose statements are just marketing. These stories tell you otherwise.

Second, most of the stories I featured above are use cases which span beyond SAP applications. As HANA matures, we are seeing that customers not only deploy HANA for their S/4HANA, C/4HANA and BW4/HANA, not only LoB applications that run on HANA like SuccessFactors, but we have many customers like Vodafone using HANA for many other use cases, or like Suiker Unie, customers who do not run SAP applications.

Third, I have always maintained that you get the power of HANA when you combine multiple engines: transaction and analytic, spatial and graph, text and search, predictive and machine learning. This is precisely what our customers are doing, and this is the technology reason why they choose HANA for these specific use cases.

Ten years later, I truly feel like we are starting to see HANA’s potential. My prediction for next year? Customers deploying HANA as a holistic Data Management Suite with the Data Hub, EIM and Big Data Services, especially taking into account HANA’s Machine Learning and AI capabilities.

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