The announcement of SAP’s latest edition to the HANA family, HANA Express, caused quite a stir in the developer community. It is the next phase of the SAP HANA evolution, designed to engage developers across all business sizes. SAP HANA Express gives developers the power and tools associated with the full HANA version, with up to 32GB of memory for free.

At Centiq, I am responsible for managing our own development infrastructure for HANA. With 12 developers in the team, we have had to share HANA instances of about 100GB of memory each, this ends up using a lot of capacity that could be put to more use elsewhere. For us, one of the biggest benefits of the Express platform is the ability to use it on a laptop, running at 10GB rather than 60GB. If more memory than the free 32GB is required, there is an option for developers to expand to 128GB or upgrade to the full version, both at an additional cost. This flexibility helps drive growth and faster application development.

Streamlined and powerful

The Express edition has all the same characteristics as the full version, and frees up a lot of resources by having a smaller footprint allowing developers to have their own environment to work in, possibly also providing an environment for more intensive testing. HANA Express is ideal for developers to be up and running on a device they choose and trust, streamlined to run on traditional servers, laptops and via the cloud.

Perhaps the biggest difference from the full HANA version is that it delivers the same power but in a far more accessible format. I was originally unsure when I first saw the announcement, but I was pleasantly surprised by the simple installation and ease of use. Enabling developers to work on the go is a breath of fresh air. Previously, you’d have to set up VPN’s, and you would require internet connection the entire time.

SAP continuing in the right direction

Historically, large enterprise software companies like SAP tend to be quite far behind modern development practices. However, in the last six months there have been lots of progressive forward-thinking software decisions emerging which are making HANA development very similar to other software development areas which developers new to HANA will likely be familiar with. Using these new development trends also makes HANA development easier to find help on. This is because more people are using modern tech and lots of discussion in these popular technologies is publically available online on websites like StackOverflow.

Economical Development on SAP HANA

It is now possible to develop applications on HANA without expensive licensing or expensive hardware, you can have HANA for free on a laptop and use tools and resources that you are used to. Developers also get access to the extensive SAP Community to support their learning needs.

The cost-saving benefits of the free edition enables smaller companies or developers who work for themselves to enter the HANA world too. It means they can utilise the power of enterprise grade analytics and in-memory computing, driving innovation, at little or no cost.

I think the Express edition is an excellent direction to be heading. Some enterprise software companies are falling behind what free technologies have to offer. This new product takes a very modern approach, to move from being just enterprise technology towards something that a lot of developers can use and have experience with. It packs a powerful punch, enabling a wider range of users.

Centiq is really excited about what HANA Express has brought to the table. It is certainly having a big impact on the way we work, and it will be interesting to see how different groups of developers use the platform moving forward.