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Enterprise software giant SAP has been throwing its hands in the air for years, exclaiming that it is indeed a cloud company. But yesterday, SAP took a big step that shows where it and its customers are at by offering its “HANA” in-memory database technology from its own cloud.

HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance) is an appliance that stores terabytes worth of data and can move through that data at high speeds. As of this week, SAP and its clients are storing more than 750TBs of data in the system. HANA is an expensive solution not many companies can offer, and it’s clearly important to SAP’s future. “We expect [HANA] to have a billion-dollar future on its own,” SAP mobility head Sanjay Poonen told us in November.

SAP previously only offered HANA via the cloud through Amazon Web Services. There are many potential reasons why SAP would want to offer HANA from its own cloud rather than AWS. For example, it gives SAP more control over its product, lets SAP allocate the right high-performance hardware for HANA’s monumental tasks, and lets SAP offer HANA in the cloud at a lower overall cost.


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Another reason SAP has moved HANA to its own cloud is that HANA has reportedly underperformed with current customers. SAP has even given away HANA for free to some tech startups in order to seed interest and maybe gain more big customers if those startups grow big.

But after talking with several “big data” experts, one final reason particularity sticks out: SAP needed to move HANA to its own cloud to make it easier to deploy the damn thing to businesses.

“In the last 10 years, the speed of business has significantly increased,” Stefan Groschupf, the CEO of Hadoop-based big data analytics startup Datameer, told VentureBeat. “No one has time to wait 18 months anymore.”

Essentially, many businesses have given up on overly long deployment cycles — it bogs down other processes, and the software is outdated once it’s ready to be deployed. Cloud software pioneers like Workday have shown enterprises how handy the cloud can be and they like what they’ve seen.

SAP and chief competitor Oracle have been watching this trend carefully during the past few years. Both companies have acquired smaller companies and launched new cloud-focused products to help speed up deployments and stay relevant. SAP’s biggest move in recent history was acquiring SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion back in December 2011. Similarly, Oracle has purchased a boatload of companies.

In the case of HANA, this is SAP tapping two huge trends (big data and cloud) and trying to tie the biggest companies in the world to its solution. Offering it via the cloud means companies might bring in those companies that see how the cloud can speed up their workflow.

That said, lean startups focused on big data solutions could gobble up some of the market SAP wants to attack with HANA. One such startup is SiSense, a big data company that has seen a 520 percent growth in subscription revenues in the past year. SiSense’s offering is different than HANA but it still thinks it can solve many businesses’ big data qualms.

“We can run on any hardware out there; many companies don’t want to buy new hardware,” SiSense marketing VP Bruno Aziza told VentureBeat. “There’s been a shift in the market for how people procure their big data solutions.”

For example, SiSense’s CTO recently crunched 10TBs of data in 10 seconds using an off-the-shelf $10,000 server as a conference stunt.

Another thing on SiSense’s side: it only takes “hours” to deploy.

Clouds image via PhotoAtelier/Flickr

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