Friday, January 27, 2012

The HANA Difference

While in college, I wrote my first computer program in PASCAL on a punch card machine. I had to write the program, which is punched on cards. I then had to take the cards and leave it on a slot for the system administrator to compile my program. This normally took a day. The next day I got a list of bugs on a print out and then had to fix the bugs in the program and punch the program out on a new set of cards. This was a tedious and terrible way to program. I gave up programming until PCs arrived in college.

Today, I went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and met a colleague from HP. He said he is working with SAP HANA. I asked him what he thinks about HANA. He explained it in a very simple and effective way. He compared HANA to real time compiling and traditional business intelligence systems to punch card compiling.

In traditional business intelligence systems, you need to have your questions ready before you extract your data for analysis. In HANA you extract the data first then ask your questions.

In traditional business intelligence systems, the process of asking a question and getting an answer took several hours in some cases. Because of this delay, fewer questions were asked.

In HANA, the answers to your questions come back in a few seconds. In a few seconds you will know if you asked the right question. If your initial question was not precise enough, you can rephrase your question until you arrive at the right answer. Because of its speed, HANA encourages more people to ask more questions.

He explained that it is not about the raw speed. It is about the opportunities that speed opens up and the mindset change it enables.

By the way, this is a Burroughs calculator displayed in the computer history museum.

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