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SAP's Sikka fires back against Oracle's 'falsehoods' about HANA

The response and rhetoric highlights the rivalry between the companies' in-memory database platforms

By Chris Kanaracus
May 1, 2012 12:31 PM ET

IDG News Service - SAP's technology chief gave a strong rebuttal to a recent presentation by an Oracle executive that was critical of SAP's HANA in-memory database, saying it is full of "falsehoods."

The presentation on Friday by Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development at Oracle, was meant to showcase Oracle's recently introduced Exalytics product, which also incorporates in-memory processing.

But Kurian's presentation also took aim at HANA, contending that its features are severely lacking in comparison to Exalytics in many functional areas as well as cost.

SAP has positioned HANA as suitable for both analytic and transactional application workloads, and as a central pillar for its technology strategy moving forward. Over time, SAP intends to lure customers now using Oracle's flagship database underneath its ERP (enterprise resource planning) over to HANA, but the engineering work to make that possible isn't completed yet.

Overall, Oracle views HANA as a serious threat to its database business and the contents of Kurian's presentation reflects this, according to Vishal Sikka, executive board member and head of technology and innovation at SAP.

"We finally got their attention and they're all losing it out in Redwood Shores," Sikka said in an interview this week. "We've been laughing since Friday."

Despite Sikka's characterization of SAP's mood, he exhibited a frustrated and irritated tone during the interview.

"These guys still keep saying HANA doesn't scale out," Sikka said. "That means one of two possibilities. They don't want to believe it, or that they are just lying."

Oracle also contended in the presentation that HANA doesn't support unstructured data. This is inconceivable given that HANA is partly based on SAP's TREX technology, an unstructured text search engine, Sikka said.

The presentation also states that HANA supports only "limited" and "non-standard SQL," which is also false, Sikka said.

In addition, Oracle said that Exalytics is "significantly cheaper" than HANA, citing a $135,000 price tag for the Exalytics hardware compared to more than $360,000 for a HANA machine on IBM hardware. HANA is available in appliance form from a number of hardware vendors.

The cost figure Oracle cited is wildly overblown compared to market averages for x86 servers these days, Sikka contended.

Oracle also compared pricing for the software, saying that licenses for a system with 1TB of RAM would cost $690,000 for Exalytics and $3.75 million for HANA.

Sikka said he had "no idea" how Oracle arrived at that cost for the HANA software. SAP sells HANA Enterprise Edition based on the amount of RAM in the system, going by 64GB units. Unit list pricing ranges from north of $100,000 each down to less than $5,000, depending on the volume purchased or "when embedded in a specific HANA app," an SAP document states. SAP has also released a lower-cost HANA Edge edition for smaller companies, which lists for a!40,000.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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