The untold story: How SAP's CEO built the product that may save the company at night on his home computer
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|Bill McDermott / SAP|
Most observers give credit for the vision behind SAP's revolutionary HANA in-memory
computing platform to company cofounder Hasso Plattner or CTO Vishal Sikka. But an inside source suggests the real inspiration for the invention of HANA came from a much different person, CEO Bill McDermott.
McDermott, who is known more for being a master salesman and strategist rather than a technologist, apparently hacked out the original prototype of HANA at night working on his home office computer. Using a version of "SAP Business Suite The Home Edition," McDermott, realizing the need for a faster running version, looked for better alternatives.
A memory vendor McDermott had spoken with suggested that he move more of the data used in applications off of disk drives and directly into flash memory, thus eliminating much of the time consuming I/O activity. Of course, the process wasn't as simple as that, but McDermott succeeded in producing a version of Business Suite that ran at least ten times faster than SAP's most recent release.
McDermott, never one to be bashful, bought his invention into SAP's Palo Alto labs for a look. At first, SAP's engineers snickered, though not too loudly as to offend the CEO. But Sikka had the prototype concept tested, and though balky, it proved out. So SAP began exploring if it could develop the concept into a workable commercial product.
When SAP decided to release its first version of the new product in 2010, SAP marketers worked excitedly on dreaming up a name for it. They came up with "Bill McDermott's incredibly fast new database" (BMDIFND). But McDermott, ever the savvy marketer, realized that name wouldn't carry much credibility in the developer community. So, at Sikka's suggestion and with Plattner's assent, instead they chose the acronym HANA (Hasso's New Architecture).
Whether the true story of HANA's origins will ever be made public is not known.