SAP readying in-memory database appliances

SAP is planning to work with partners to develop new hardware appliances that employ its in-memory database technology that could potentially serve as rivals to Oracle’s Exadata data-processing platform.

“If you look at the Exadata machine, it has all the layers we have seen since the 1980s in there,” SAP CTO Vishal Sikka said during a press conference Monday at the Sapphire conference in Orlando. “We think differently. We think an in-memory appliance can bring dramatically lower cost. We believe this [presents] a fairly unbelievable reduction of cost and simplification of the layers.”

SAP will also break from the Exadata model by working with partners, including Hewlett-Packard, on the appliances’ hardware, Sikka said. Exadata uses hardware and storage gained from Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. “It takes an ecosystem to build such an appliance,” Sikka said. Announcements will be forthcoming, he added.

The company’s strategy is apparently meant to retain customers, many of which run their SAP installations on Oracle’s database, who may otherwise be tempted to use Exadata.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claimed that the company’s sales pipeline for Exadata was approaching US$1 billion.

In-memory databases store information within main memory, which gives a performance boost over reading and writing to disks. With the pending acquisition of Sybase, which was announced last week, SAP will gain additional in-memory capabilities.

Ellison, whose company has its own in-memory database technology, mocked SAP’s strategy at an event earlier this year. “This is nonsense. There is no in-memory technology anywhere near ready to take the place of a relational database. It’s a complete fantasy on their part,” he said.

SAP’s co-founder Hasso Plattner is scheduled to provide a deeper look at the company’s in-memory technology and strategy in a keynote address on Wednesday.

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