By Eric Auchard
TUEBINGEN (Reuters) - SAP unveiled a new product on Tuesday that promises to help businesses make sense of a deluge of real-world data from retail transactions, transport systems and social media, hoping to persuade customers to switch from rival database suppliers.SAP HANA Vora, as the database query software will be known, aims to give businesses greater insights into the vast volumes of data organizations are collecting from customer feedback, along with sensors installed in products, vehicles and networks.
But Europe's biggest software company has to convince its customer base, which includes the world's biggest multinational companies, to adopt its new SAP HANA software and must show its database is ready to handle the most demanding tasks before these customers will consider replacing existing systems.
HANA Vora will work along with Apache Hadoop, an open source framework popular with serious software developers for handling huge sets of data, from government statistics to scientific results to shopping or credit data.
"The new datasets that are emerging are going to have a profound impact on how a business is going to function, and what its options are," said SAP Chief Technology Officer Quentin Clark, who until last year was in charge of rival Microsoft Corp's data product business.
Customers can now use visual analysis tools in HANA Vora to meld existing organizational data with less structured, external data imported from Hadoop to create more comprehensive views of trends affecting their business decision-making, Clark said.
SAP primarily derives its revenue from business planning applications that have always run atop databases supplied by rivals such as Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.
In 2010, SAP switched course and introduced its own database. Then, earlier this year, it announced S4 HANA, which runs SAP's mainstay business planning software, in what amounted to the company's biggest new product bet in two decades.
Still, convincing existing customers to run their critical operations on HANA remains a decade-long project, Gartner analyst Derek Prior said. The market research firm is a top technology consultant advising clients on when to switch.
"All this is heading in the right direction," Prior said. "But HANA is a bet-your-house application. You don't mess with it and upgrade it at the drop of a hat," he said.
Gartner currently assumes that only 35 percent of SAP's core business customers will be running on HANA by 2020 and most customers are waiting to be convinced that the database is reliable enough to handle their most vital data.
Taking a stepping-stone approach to wider HANA adoption, SAP also announced a new set of cloud-based micro business services, including customer marketing packages and a service feature that automatically computes local taxes anywhere in the world.
(Editing by Jane Merriman)