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SAP Brings More Value to Big Data

5 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar
Big Data Earns its Keep

Big data has yet to deliver on its promises. At least that’swhat Ken Tsai, vice president, head of cloud platform and data management at SAPtold CMSWire. 

In the past, he's even referred to data lakes as dataswamps, and he wasn’t entirely kidding.

“Big data means very little without business context,” he said.

This morning at CeBIT 2016 in Hanover, Germany, SAP announcedSAPHANA Vora is now generally available (GA). It is an Apache Spark-based in-memoryquery engine that brings contextual analytics across all data stored in Hadoop,enterprise systems and other distributed data sources.

Understanding Data in Context

Until now, Tsai told CMSWire, the focus around big datahas been building the distributed computing framework. “Data comes quickly andfiguring out how to store it and manage it is essential. After all, one day wecould be looking at 100,000 nodes,” he said. 

Though that may seem far-fetched atthe moment, Tsai insisted that it could become reality in the not so distantfuture.

Figuring out how toget value out of all of that data is today’s challenge and it’s one that SAPclaims it has solved with SAP HANA Vora. 

“Vora” takes its name form “voracious.”It was built to bring business context to insights derived frombig data and to then push big data signals into operational applications.

In other words, SAP HANA Vora makes big data actionable. Itsmost immediate adopters will probably beSAP customers which might seem limiting until you consider that 74 percent ofthe world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system. It’s worth noting toothat insights gleaned through SAP HANA Vora can be leveraged via Oracle andother vendor solutions as well.

Practically Speaking

While all of this big data talk may seem obtuse, here’s howSAP HANA Vora might be applied in the real world: 

When a shopper walks into astore, insights gleaned via external information stored in a data lake (Hadoop)might reveal what kind of products other shoppers “like me” purchased and howpresenting a coupon or an add-on product might influence behavior and such. Mostof us have seen this on sites like Amazon where it says “people also bought xxx.”

Bring SAP HANA Vora into the mix, and an individual’sspecific transactional history can be added, helping the merchant know who his customeris as an individual. Marry the two together and the probability of a desiredoutcome increases substantially.

“This is the golden age of big data,” said Tsai. “This iswhen we begin to see value.”

It’s an impressive accomplishment, according to ConstellationResearch analyst Holger Mueller.

“It’s  good to see SAP bringing the enterpriseapplication DNA to the table. For now it looks like it is hierarchycapabilities, an important concept for enterprise applications, traditionallymissing on the Hadoop side,” he told CMSWire. He also noted that SAP HANA Vora givesSAP its very own big data play.

Learning Opportunities

Though SAP would likely claim it already had one, it’s clearthat Tsai sees Vora as a game-changer, one that could be as wildly successful asSAP HANA itself.

Deeper, Actionable Insights

There will certainly be those who say that actionableinsights gleaned from big data have been around for quite a while. 

The realityis that, at least up until now, according to analysts, big data hasn’t lived upto its aspirations. 

Forrester, in its Wave for “Big Data Hadoop Distributions,Q1 2016,” stated, “On average, between 60 percent and 73 percent of all datawithin an enterprise goes unused for business intelligence (BI) and analytics.That’s unacceptable in an age where deeper, actionable insights, especiallyabout customers, are a competitive necessity.”

How SAP HANA Vora Works

SAP HANA Vora leverages and extends the Apache Sparkexecution framework to provide enriched interactive analytics on Hadoop. Thecore foundation of SAP HANA’s in memory platform, is complemented by SAP HANAVora, which is designed to add insight across large volumes of operational andcontextual data taken from enterprise applications, data warehouses, data lakesand edge Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Vora brings compute to the data.

The specific wins realized by companies who tested Vora include:

  • Datacorrelation for making precise contextual decisions — Enables mashup ofoperational business data with external unstructured data sources for morepowerful analytics
  • Simplifiedmanagement of big data — Allows data to be processed locally on a Hadoopcluster, removing any data ownership and integration challenges
  • Onlineanalytical processing (OLAP) modeling capabilities on Hadoop data — Makesreal-time drill-down analysis possible on large volumes of Hadoop datadistributed across thousands of nodes

SAP HANA Vora works with the ApacheHadoop and Apache Spark providers of  choice including Cloudera, Databricks, Hortonworksand MapR.

Sharing is Caring

Though SAP Hana Vora is clearly a proprietary solution, thecompany recently open sourced a data hierarchy modeling feature and a datasources application program interface (API) extension to the Apache Sparkecosystem.

Tsai said that SAP plans to strengthen its commitment to thedeveloper community by continuing to make more open source contributions in thefuture.

This signals that SAP understands and marches in step withdevelopers’ preferences for open source solutions and vendor contributions. Ina world where developers are the kingmakers, this is a must.