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SAP and HP, companies with axes to grind against Oracle, are following the database giant with their own hardware and software appliance.

Software giant SAP said on Tuesday that it's working on an in-memory data analytics engine tuned to the PC and server maker's hardware that'll crunch data from servers, data warehouses, and the web in real-time.

SAP said it's working with other hardware makers on appliances, due by the end of 2010, while reports named IBM as one of those involved.

SAP's decision to kick off with HP, though, is significant. HP helped Oracle build the first Exadata analytics appliance, but was ditched when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and used Intel and Linux servers from Sun for Exadata 2. Oracle, meanwhile, competes aggressively against SAP and bashes the company whenever it can.

The SAP appliances will use a new piece of software from SAP called the Business Analytic Engine that's built on an in-memory architecture and combined with what SAP called a "powerful calculation engine" and easy-to-use, business-centric data modeling and data management tools.

SAP claimed its device will drive "the next significant wave in computing with its latest in-memory offerings."

SAP and Oracle already had in-memory products for rapid data analysis, with SAP's NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator and Oracle's Tangosol and TimesTen.

Most customers of SAP and Oracle, though, are running vast data warehouses on RDBMS powered by slow-moving disk-based storage. In-memory is faster because it eliminates the need for disks by putting data into main memory, instead.

In-memory technology has come into its own recently with the advent of affordable server hardware running 64-bit, multicore chips capable of pounding the data held in main memory.

Tuning your software to this underlying hardware is seen as the next step. On this, SAP is behind Oracle. The database giant has been pushing Exadata since 2008, initially with HP.

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison's key target has been IBM, although he's also taken swipes at data warehouse rivals Netezza and Teradata.

SAP, though, clearly hopes to beat Oracle by working with others: the company's co-chief executive Bill McDermot is reported to have said SAP has briefed IBM, HP, EMC, and Cisco on its plans, looking for opportunities around the planned software engine.

"As far as I know, there's only one company that thinks they have to sell everything to every customer that would be most threatened by this," McDermott said.

McDermott didn't name Oracle, but he didn't have to. ®

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