SAP today announced a new product targeting the next generation of data warehousing to enable enterprises to achieve real-time analytics. SAP BW/4HANA can be deployed on-premise, on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, with other third-party cloud platforms expected to follow. The company says it’s all about helping the user be more agile and focused on business outcomes.
“Something that comes up in a lot of our customers is the need to be able to respond quickly to market opportunities,” Neil McGovern, senior director of product marketing for SAP’s data warehouse business, told The VAR Guy. “Business agility, the ability to respond with new reports, new dashboards, complex answers, in hours or days versus weeks or months, significantly impacts the bottom line of organizations.”
SAP hopes the new product will better position them to hold a leading edge in cloud-based data warehousing. Growing trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and data lakes are placing increasing demands on data warehouses as they generate massive quantities of structured data.
“Leveraging HANA’s capabilities, we can handle data streaming in from the IoT,” said McGovern. “And with our advanced integration capabilities, we can tie together BW/4HANA with other data sources to create this single logical view of the data in the enterprise.”
Unlike previous SAP data warehouse products that could run on Oracle, DB2 or SQL Server, BW/4HANA only runs on SAP HANA, SAP’s memory database. McGovern says eliminating the need to treat all of databases equally allowed the company to fully leverage the capabilities of HANA and resulted in faster, more versatile data warehouse solutions to help businesses stay agile.
“As an early adopter of SAPBW/4HANA running on Amazon AWS, we reduced our end-to-end production time by 50 percent, allowing us to deliver a powerful new analytics platform with minimal upfront investment in just three months,” Diego Lombardini, Head of Finance Systems, Fairfax Media Pty. Ltd., said in a statement. “To support our constantly changing business, we now have an extremely flexible, highly scalable cloud environment that is capable of future-proofing our business.”
Among the new features is an upgraded user interface, increased cloud enablement and simplified objects development modeling. In addition, BW/4HANA includes a port for entering multi-temperature data into the system so that users can class data according to business priority.
“You can say all the data that's ten year old or less, is in hot, while data that's more than a year old is in warm. That's handled automatically for you,” says McGovern. “Or instead of age, you can use the data value, so you can say all customers in North America are in the hot, because those are the ones we're using a lot. The rest of the world customers go in warm, because we're US-based organization, for instance.”
Staying ahead of the curve
BW/4HANA, was the result of a year of research and development and was inspired by feedback from customers and analysts. SAP, which has been in the data warehousing business since the early 1990s, has a big customer base already using the standard BW predecessor products that they tapped for guidance in the new product’s development. In addition, the company commissioned primary research and worldwide surveys with analyst firms such as Forrester.
In a technology marketplace that’s evolving as quickly as it is today, vendors must take advantage of every avenue to stay ahead of the curve. SAP has a staff of engineers and builds quite a lot of our technology in house, but also has a history of adding key pieces of technology to its portfolio through acquisitions.
Looking forward, McGovern, who served a stint on Wall Street working on high-performance, flash trading systems, says he’s most excited about the promise of streaming analytics technology arising from the IoT.
“When we start connecting up tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of sensors, and start analyzing them in real time, it might not be five million messages per second from a single source, but it might be one message per second from hundreds or millions of sources,” he says. “I think that that information streaming in through IOT is going to require this streaming analytics technology.”
SAP is working to integrate that Wall Street streaming analytics technology into its products, and last year’s acquisition of SciBase, which produces an ultra-light database, provided a key component.
“I think that at SAP the combination of that very white-wave edge analytics with the heavy-weight internal, the centralized streaming analytics, is going to be the enterprise nervous system.”
SAP says that BW/4HANA, with its ability to analyze data wherever it resides, is a big step toward achieving its vision of the next generation data warehouse.