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For the last four years, SAP has been making a case for transforming enterprise IT by making a shift to in-memory computing in the form of the SAP HANA platform. This week, SAP outlined the role it expects the channel to play in making that transformation occur.

At the Sapphire Now 2013 conference, SAP rolled out the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud partner program, which provides channel partners access to sales enablement tools, best practices, and other sales and technology resources.

While SAP has been making rapid progress in bringing HANA to market, the company’s channel strategy for HANA has remained a work in progress.

Under terms of the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud partner program, partners can resell instances of HANA running in the cloud, or they can deploy the technology in their own cloud.

“We want to create a friendly ecosystem,” said SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott. “We don’t want to quarrel with anyone. We want to create partnerships in a friendly, high-trust way.”

SAP was vague about what kinds of product margins partners should expect to see, but it did point out that SAP’s HANA platform should, for example, lead to much larger consumption of network bandwidth services as larger amounts of data are continuously accessed.

SAP HANA is based on a columnar database designed to run across dynamic RAM (DRAM) and solid-state storage drives (SSDs) in a way that delivers orders of magnitude of processing performance that not only eliminates the need for batch processing, but also allows analytic and transaction workloads to run simultaneously in real time.

At the same time, by taking advantage of a more efficient approach to SQL and stored procedures and by eliminating reliance on disk-based storage, the total cost of managing the data center environment shrinks by as much as 30 percent—largely because of the application of data compression algorithms in the SAP HANA platform.

That consolidation represents a double-edged sword for the channel. On one hand, data center transformation projects based on the SAP HANA platform will be very profitable. On the other hand, HANA could dramatically reduce the amount of physical IT infrastructure sold through the channel.

For the most part, SAP is arguing that all “hot data” should now be processed in-memory. “Warm” and “cold” data that is accessed less frequently would then be moved to disk-based storage systems.

The degree to which each organization will make that adjustment will vary widely, but from a channel perspective, it does create an opportunity to deliver data management services that will span in-memory computing platforms, traditional relational databases and a variety of batch-oriented big data platforms such as Hadoop.

With that goal in mind, SAP released a suite of data access and data virtualization tools to facilitate the enterprise information management across multiple data management platforms.