Business software behemoth SAP is betting big on a next generation in-memory database known as “HANA.”

“There is a lot of halo around this [HANA],” said Sanjay Poonen, President & Corporate Officer of SAP on stage at CloudBeat, the customer-focused cloud computing conference in Redwood City.”We expect this [HANA] to have a billion dollar future on its own,” he said.

HANA (which stands for High-Performance Analytic Appliance) is a container that can store up to 500 terabytes of data, and execute at high speed. With this database, SAP has burst into the “big data” conversation. Large corporations are increasingly looking for ways to store, process and analyze their data, and are turning to legacy vendors (such as SAP and Oracle) as well as the new breed of startups that are jostling for attention.

Mike Kelly, SVP Information Technology of McKesson is one of HANA’s most longstanding and demanding customers. Not only is McKesson, a Cailfornia-based healthcare IT provider, dealing with terabytes of data, but there is highly sensitive patient information that must be protected. Cloud technologies have become more secure, but McKesson’s store of electronic patient records remain on-premise.

McKesson, which claims to be one of the largest purchasers of generic pharmaceuticals in the world, are using HANA for sales and operations planning. “My job is provide timely and accurate information [to our] core distribution business,” said Kelly. By crunching the numbers in real-time, McKesson is in pole position to offer the best pricing to retailers.

Kelly said that in the future, the major concern is to avoid security breaches as the company shifts to mobile; “there are a lot of questions about confidentiality as it relates to mobile,” he said. “This is certainly top of mind [and] on my list of things to do.” Poonen revealed that in the upcoming years, mobility will be one of SAP’s major areas of focus.

Missed out on CloudBeat this year? Check out the video from the session here.

Photo credit: Michael O’Donnell


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