Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Five ways Oracle Exalytics is “different” from SAP HANA

The social media platforms are abuzz with comparisons between Oracle Exalytics & SAP HANA. Some of our esteemed colleagues from the other side have tried hard but failed miserably to differentiate between Exalytics & HANA. Frankly, you don’t need to be a PHD or a wine connoisseur to understand the differences; all you need is to invest some time. Here are the top 5 ways (David Letterman style) of how HANA imitates to be Exalytics but fails miserably:

#5: HANA is an “appliance”, Exalytics is an engineered solution: Ok, I am being generous here by classifying HANA as an appliance. My definition of appliance is hardware & software put together for a specific purpose. So, may be HP & Microsoft joined forces to offer a BI appliance but a piece of software running on a bunch of supported hardware platforms without any specific purpose, which HANA is, doesn’t qualify as an appliance. Exalytics on the other hand is an engineered solution. Engineered solution is one which is purpose built to solve a specific problem, think dental braces vs. metal wires. Exalytics is hardware and software which is purpose built to best handle analytical workloads. Unlike an appliance, Exalytics’ software has been designed from the ground up to best exploit the underlying hardware. Features like in-memory, parallelization, automated intelligent cache management, compression etc.  deliver the best analytics performance and exploit the abundance of memory and processing capability available on Exalytics.

#4: HANA does everything but analytics and Exalytics is purpose built for analytics: HANA takes on a new purpose depending on the day of the week. HANA is an analytics database today. In the future, it will be a transactional database. Well there’s nothing wrong in being opportunistic and finding a new purpose every day, experimentation is good. I would certainly like my 4 year old to experiment and figure out if he wants to be an astronaut, a scientist or an artist but how would you feel about experimenting with your mission critical business systems. My advice, please don’t innovate for the sake of innovation.
Exalytics, on the other hand, does only one thing – it delivers unmatched performance and user experience for speed of thought analytics. It super charges your existing BI deployments and enables a new category of smart analytical applications like yield management, revenue management, real time forecasting, virtual financial close, dynamic pricing etc. It integrates transparently into your existing IT environment and requires no manual data movement or costly changes to your application code or behavior – now this is true innovation without disruption.

#3: HANA solves the problem which Exadata solved 2 years ago: HANA is supposedly a database query accelerator. It makes the database queries run faster. Dah, a ground breaking innovation from SAP, well SAP welcome to the party, you are just 2+ years late. Oracle solved the database query acceleration problem 2+ years ago with introduction of Exadata. We can debate the technical nuances like in-memory etc. but with 2TB of RAM and innovations around storage and data access, Exadata remains the fastest database machine on the planet.

#2: HANA is closed; Exalytics is an open solution: HANA is designed to work with SAP data and tools only. Now this is Database 101, you don’t design a database that is closed. The basic concept of a DBMS is to act as a data consolidation platform where data can be collected, stored, managed and accessed openly. OK, you can’t really fault the SAP development here; after all they are designing a version 0.1 of the product which Oracle has been investing billions for the last 30 years to perfect. Exalytics is a completely open middle-tier analytics platform. It connects to any or all commercially available databases like Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Teradata, Netezza and even SAP HANA and delivers high speed reporting and analysis. Besides, over 40+ pre-built enterprise performance management, ERP and CRM analytical applications are already certified on Exalytics.

#1: No BI software included with HANA; Exalytics is a single stop BI solution: In order to make sense of data or as the former CEO of Business Objects, Bernard Liautaud aptly put it to derive intelligence out of data; BI tools like dashboards, reports, scorecards and ad-hoc query and analysis tools are required. Looks like our able colleagues at SAP forgot this minor detail and didn’t include any BI tools with HANA. Exalytics on the other hand comes preloaded with Oracle BI Foundation. Oracle BI Foundation delivers the widest and most robust set of reporting, ad hoc query and analysis, OLAP, dashboard, and scorecard functionality with a rich end user experience that includes visualization, collaboration, alerts and notifications, search and mobile access. So, all you do with Exalytics is plug it in, connect to a data source and you are on your way to delivering pre-packaged or custom analytical applications.

Hopefully the above provides insightful context on Exalytics and its imposter SAP HANA. Exalytics is and remains the industry’s first in-memory analytics machine. You can learn more about Oracle Exalytics here


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