SAP HANA is an in-memory database and application platform, which is, for many operations, 10-1000 times faster than a regular database on the same hardware. This additional speed allows simplification of design and operations, as well as real-time business applications. Customers can finally begin to reduce IT complexity by removing the need for separate and multiple Application Servers, Operational Data Stores, Datamarts, and business intelligence (BI) tool implementations.
The technical secret behind SAP HANA is that it’s different by design. It stores all data in-memory, in a compressed columnar format.
Because SAP HANA is so fast, sums, indexes, materialized views, and aggregates are not required, and this can reduce the database footprint by 95%. Everything is calculated on-demand, in main memory. This makes it possible for companies to run on-line transaction processing (OLTP) and analytics applications on the same instance at the same time, and to allow for any type of real-time, ad hoc queries and analyses.
On top of this, SAP built solutions to all of the problems of columnar databases, such as concurrency (SAP HANA uses MVCC) and row-level insert and update performance (SAP HANA uses various mechanisms, such as a delta store). SAP also added engines inside SAP HANA to provide virtual on-line analytical processing (OLAP) functionality, data virtualization, text analysis, search, geospatial, graph (which will be available soon), and Web. It supports open standards, such as REST, JSON, ODBO, MDX, ODBC, and JDBC.