We've all heard the superlative laden pitches: the spiels from big shot tech executives who promise that their products can deliver rich, live, real-time, data-driven insights at the speed of business.
But like all things too good to be true, the promises usually are. Dig a little deeper and there's a lot more latency than you expected — or that the product isn't even ready for beta testing, much less prime time.
So when SAP announced it would be unveiling an entirely new business warehouse purpose-built for today's data-rich, digital world, we had to ask what terms like "live" and "real time" mean.
SAP Reimagines its Data Warehouse
"If you enter an expense at 12:05, the data will be included in a query run in the board room at 12:05:01,” Neil McGovern, senior director product management at SAP, told CMSWire.
To take it a step further, if a CEO wanted to produce a quarterly report on the spot, she could, McGovern continued.
While that's impressive, consider that much of the data used for analytics in the digital world is being generated now, in real time, inside and outside of enterprise walls. Traditional enterprise data warehouses weren't built to accommodate streaming data from social, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) — before terms like "hot data", "warm data" and "cool data" had any relevance.
In today's business environment, how and how quickly we deal with data can be as important to the bottom line as the products and/or services we provide.
It's why SAP has re-imagined its data warehouse for the digital enterprise.
Meet SAP BW/4HANA
Traditional data warehouses rely on copying data and then integrating, blending and analyzing it, which is not only a slow process but also generates insights based on "old" data by design.
"It is like finding out what the half time score of a football game is after the entire game has already been played," explained McGovern.
With SAP's new HANA-powered business warehouse, data doesn't have to be copied, according to McGovern. It can be analyzed where it lives , whether that's a data lake with SAP HANA Vora or in legacy systems within or outside the enterprise.
HANA's super-fast, in-memory processing engine also makes it simple to integrate live streaming and time-series sensor data collected from IoT environments via smart data streaming, an event stream processing option in SAP HANA. Other enterprise data warehouses can't do that, according to McGovern,because they are dependent on last generation technologies from vendors like Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.
SAP has included a new user interface for faster application development and enhanced data flow modeling, among other things.
SAP Takes BW/4HANA to the Cloud
But that's only half of the story. SAP BW/4HANA, though available on-premises, was built cloud-first. Beginning Sept. 7, it will come with out-of-the-box deployment for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) with additional cloud deployment options expected to follow.
This is a big deal, Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller told CMSWire.
"We all know about data gravity, and today we see that principle in reality — where SAP joins the ERP data and capabilities with the location where the data for next generation applications reside — in this case AWS," he said.
In other words, SAP customers will now be able to build their next generation applications taking advantage of both AWS capabilities and SAP's data — and a number of S4/HANA services.
SAP is betting that the business wins of going all-in on HANA will be so irresistible that customers won't give a second thought about ditching other vendor solutions they might have already invested in.
Is it a risky bet? Of course. But it is one that SAP seems to get more and more sure of as days go by.
Why wouldn't it be? HANA is the best-selling product in SAP's 44-year history.