SAP keeps working on its inroads to SMBs. Today at TechEd in Las Vegas, it announced the availability of SAP HANA express edition. SAP offers this pared-down version of SAP HANA to help developers build applications for free on desktop computers or in the cloud.

SAP HANA powers SAP applications, particularly large enterprise applications. It’s an in-memory database, critical to running SAP S/4HANA. The SMB-focused Business One also has the option to run on HANA.

SAP HANA, express edition democratizes ERP

This SAP HANA express edition comes with tutorials, sample code and access to the developer community. SMBs that want to work with HANA can immediately start digging in and working within their deployment environments. SAP is offering it for free, and the barrier to entry is low. Users can download it and run it in a public cloud environment like AWS, a personal computer or a server. The free version lets developers play with applications that use up to 32GB of memory. For a fee, they can purchase more memory.

Yes, that’s the catch: 32GB are free. But what SAP HANA, express edition lets developers start working with SAP quickly, according to Cindy Jutras, president of Mint Jutras. It turns SAP HANA into a “freemium” product that allows SMBs kick the tires, so to speak. It almost democratizes ERP with the low entry point. As Jutras said in a press release, “Now companies such as small-to-medium-size enterprises have access to a data management and app development platform that has traditionally been used by large enterprises.”

SAP provides SAP HANA, express edition can run on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. For SMBs who have neither, they can work with the software on a Windows or Mac OS machine using a virtual machine installation image from SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

The tools to gain business insight

So why would a small business want to invest in SAP HANA, anyway? Those considering Business One or an ERP system in general may want to explore what HANA can do. HANA pulls together database, application and analytics functions into one platform. It lets developers work with structured and unstructured data like text and graphics. It serves as a way to get real-time insights on the business: processed orders and invoices, for example.