There's been a lot of chest thumping of late by SAP and Oracle regarding their fledgling in-memory products, Hana and Exalytics.
SAP has been confidently claiming that its Hana in-memory database will quickly steal database market share that it took Oracle decades to win. It will start with SAP Business Warehouse (BW) deployments, the company says, and by the end of this year, once Hana gains the ability to run core enterprise applications, Hana will start invading the transactional database market.
Oracle's Larry Ellison and Safra Catz have missed few opportunities to discredit Hana in recent months. But executive VP Thomas Kurian took the slams a level deeper on Friday with a one-hour Webinar clearly intended to sow seeds of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of would-be Hana customers. The session was billed as an Exalytics seminar, but each point set up a contrast with Hana. Kurian claimed, among other things, that SAP's product costs five times to 50 times more than Exalytics and that it doesn't support SQL (relational) or MDX (multidimensional) query languages, requiring apps to be rewritten to run on the new database.
So what's the truth behind all these claims and counter claims? SAP database executive Steve Lucas posted a blog on Monday rebutting most of Oracle's claims, and also I spent some time with SAP's CTO, Vishal Sikka, and Gartner analyst Don Feinberg on some of the technical points, as I'll detail below. But first a bit of background.
SAP has always said customers will be free to choose whatever database they want, but the company is counting on Hana's in-memory performance to catapult it to a leading position in the database market. The advantages of in-memory technology are well documented, but SAP has bigger ambitions for the technology than any other vendor. With Hana, the goal is to support "transformational" business advantage, not just faster queries.
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