SAP UK managing director Tim Noble revealed the new figure at a Thursday event in central London, while also referencing a number of customers now using HANA, including Vodafone, agriculture machinery firm John Deere and healthcare giant Bayer.
It's important to differentiate between HANA and [Business] Suite on HANA. HANA has been available for a lot longer and it has 918 customers today," said Noble.
"Suite on HANA is going to be made generally available at [SAP's annual customer event] Sapphire in May. We have 18 customers who are proof of concept customers for Suite on HANA at the moment, and three customers running their entire [Business] Suite on HANA. Those figures are worldwide."
The HANA big data analytics solution has been heavily marketed since its release in November 2010. The database, which became generally available to all customers in June 2011, allows users to run queries over large datasets.
In January this year, SAP launched its Business Suite on HANA, which allows users to perform analysis on large sets of transactional data around key business processes, like supplier data, in real-time.
Philip Adams, chairman of SAP User Group, said it is still "early days" for many customers when it comes to the deployment of Hana.
However Adams said he is beginning to see more interest among customers. "A few months ago at SAP User Group events, customers weren't really asking about HANA, even though SAP was marketing it. Now customers are asking to hear more about it," he added.
Analyst firm Ovum recently published a report noting that HANA is too costly for small and medium businesses. According to Ovum, the average SAP HANA licence sale is $400,000, but can run into tens of millions; and that is just for licensing. The hardware itself can run anywhere from $63,000 to $2.4m.
Noble remarked that SAP is striving to drive down this cost down for customers.
Also at the event, IBM noted the work it was doing with SAP to expand the memory of the Hana system. In May last year the firms showcased a HANA system implemented on IBM System x3850X5 servers providing 100TB of main memory, a system they said was big enough to hold the data of SAP's eight largest customers.
IBM Global Business Services vice president and SAP leader Partha Chakraborty said SAP's largest customers are likely to increase their take-up of the tool as the amount of data HANA stores and processes increases. At its launch HANA started with 1TB of RAM supporting up to 5TB of uncompressed data.
But Chakraborty said soon, probably by the end of this year, HANA will run on hardware with 8TB of RAM, which will be able to support up to 40TB of uncompressed data.
"The take-up cycle is driven by its technical ability. So we are looking at another six to nine months before there is a mass scale movement towards HANA in my view," he added.
Chakraborty also noted that customers need to feel comfortable with the security of storing all their business applications with HANA.
"They can build in resilience in order to ensure they don't lose the data, and they need to feel secure that in-memory databases don't expose them to data loss," he added.
In November 2011, SAP chief information officer Oliver Bussman told V3 that the company had only 10 customers worldwide using HANA.