From the Blogosphere
SAP and Big Data
SAP’s move to exploring the new BI appliance and Big Data markets has been impressive
By: Jim Kaskade
Dec. 2, 2013 02:15 PM
SAP customers are confused about the positioning between SAP Sybase IQ and SAP Hana as it applies to data warehousing. Go figure, so is SAP. You want to learn about their data warehousing offering, and all you hear is “Hana this” and “Hana that”.
It reminds me of the time after I left Teradata when the BI appliances came on the scene. First Netezza, then Greenplum, then Vertica and Aster Data, then ParAccel. Everyone was confused about what the BI appliance was in relation to the EDW. Do I need an EDW, a BI appliance, an EDW + BI appliance?
With SAP, Sybase IQ is supposed to be the data warehouse and Hana is the BI or analytic appliance that sits off to its side. Okay. SAP has a few customers on Sybase IQ, but are they the larger well-known brands? Let's face it….since its acquisition of Sybase in 2010, SAP has struggled with positioning it against incumbents like Teradata, IBM, and even Oracle.
SAP’s move from exploiting its leadership position in enterprise ERP to exploring the new BI appliance and Big Data markets has been impressive IMHO. With acquisitions of EDW and RDBMS company, Sybase, in 2010 after earlier acquisition of BI leader, Business Objects, in 2007 was necessary to be relevant in the race to providing an end-to-end data infrastructure story. This was; however, a period of “catch-up” or “late entry” to the race.
The beginning of its true exploration began with SAP Hana and now strategic partnership with Hadoop commercialization company, Hortonworks. The ability to rise ahead of Data Warehouse and database management system leaders will require defining a new Gartner quadrant – the Big Data quadrant.
SAP Product Positioning
Lets look back in time at SAP’s early positioning. We have the core ERP business, the new “business warehouse” business, and the soon to be launched Hana business. The SAP data warehouse equation is essentially = Business Objects + Sybase IQ + Hana. Positioning Hana, as with most data warehouse vendors, is a struggle since it can be positioned as a data mart within larger footprints, or as THE EDW database altogether in smaller accounts. One would think that with proper guidelines, this positioning would be straightforward. But there is more than database size, and complexity of queries, but a very challenging variable of customer organizational requirements and politics that play into platform choice. As shown above, you can tell that SAP struggled with simplifying its message for its sales teams early on.
SAP Hana – More than a BI Appliance
As with most BI appliances back then, customers spent about $150k for a basic 1TB configuration (SAP partnered with Dell) for the hardware only – add software and installation services and we were looking at $300K, minimally, as the entry point. SAP started off with either a BI appliance (HANA 1.0) or a BW Data Warehouse appliance (HANA 1.0 SP03). Both of these using the SAP IMDB Database Technology (SAP HANA Database) as their underlying RDBMS.
BI Appliances come with analytics, of course
When SAP first started marketing their Hana analytics, you were promised a suite of sophisticated analytics as part of their Predictive Analysis Library (PAL) which can be called directly in a “L wrapper” within an SQL Script. The inputs and outputs are all tables. PAL includes seven well known predictive analysis algorithms in several data mining algorithm categories:
HANA’s main use case started with a focus around its installed base with a real-time in-memory data mart for analyzing data from SAP ERP systems. For example, profitability analysis (CO-PA) is one of the most commonly used capabilities within SAP ERP. The CO-PA Accelerator allows significantly faster processing of complex allocations and basically instantaneous ad hoc profitability queries. It belongs to accelerator-type usage scenarios in which SAP HANA becomes a secondary database for SAP products such as SAP ERP. This means SAP ERP data is replicated from SAP ERP into SAP HANA in real time for secondary storage.
BI Appliances are only as good as the application suite
Applications developed on the platform include:
Most opportunities were initially “accelerators” with its in-memory performance improvements.
Aggregate real-time data sources
SAP has a second choice of replication mechanism called System Landscape Transformation (SLT). SLT is also near-real-time and works from a trigger from within the SAP Business Suite products. This is both database-independent and pretty clever, because it allows for application-layer transformations and therefore greater flexibility than the SRS model. Note that SLT may only work with SAP source systems.
High-performance in-memory performance
SAP’s partnership with Hortonworks enables the ability to migrate data between HANA and Hadoop platforms. The basic idea is to treat Hadoop systems as an inexpensive repository of tier 2 and tier 3 data that can be, in turn, processed and analyzed at high speeds on the HANA platform. This is a typical design pattern between Hadoop and any BI appliance (SMP or MPP).
SAP “Big Data White Space”?
Customers are saying they’re not planning to use it, with most of them citing high costs and a lack of clear benefit (aka use-case) behind their decision. Even analysts are advising against it - Forrester research said the HANA strategy is “understandable but not appealing”.
SAP is betting its future on HANA + SaaS. However, what is working in SAP’s favor for the moment is the high level of commitment among existing (european) customers to on-premise software.
This is where the “white space” comes in. Bundling a core suite of well-designed business discovery services around the SAP solution-set will allow customers to feel like they are being listened to first, and sold technology second.
Understanding how to increase REVENUE with new greenfield applications around unstructured data that leverages the structured data from ERP systems can be a powerful opportunity. This means architecting a balance of historic “what happened”, real-time “what is currently happening”, and a combined “what will happen IF” all together into a single data symphony. Hana can be leveraged for more ad-hoc analytics on the combined historic and real-time data for business analysts to explore, rather than just be a report accelerator.
This will require:
This isn’t rocket science. It just takes a focused tactical execution, leading with business cases first. The SAP-enabled Bid Data system can then be further optimized with cloud delivery as a cost reducer and time-to-value enhancer, along with a further focus around application development. Therefore, other white space includes:
SAP must keep its traditional customers and SI partners (like CSC) engaged with “add-ons” to its core business applications with incentives for investing in HANA, while at the same time evolving its offerings for line of business buyers.
Some think that SAP can change the game by reaching/selling to marketers with new analytics offerings (e.g., see SAP & KXEN), enhanced mobile capabilities, ecosystem of start-ups, and a potential to incorporate its social/collaboration and e-commerce capabilities into one integrated offering for digital marketers and merchandisers.
Is a path to define a stronger CRM vision for marketers? It won’t be able to without credible SI partners who have experience with new media, digital agencies and specialty service providers who are defining the next wave of content- and data-driven campaigns and customer experiences.
Do you agree?
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