The intelligent enterprise must be built on speed — speed like you get from the in-memory processing of the HANA database, which is also the foundation of the SAP HANA Data Management Suite, SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner said in his keynote address at Sapphire Now.
The vendor announced SAP HANA Data Management Suite at its annual user conference, which was held this month in Orlando, Fla. It’s an amalgam of SAP applications intended to allow companies to get a better grip on the various data sources flowing through the organization and extract business value, according to the company.
SAP HANA Data Management Suite consists of the SAP HANA database; SAP Data Hub, a data governance and orchestration platform; SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services, a large-scale data processing platform based on Hadoop and Spark; and SAP Enterprise Architecture Designer, a collaborative cloud application that can let anyone in an organization participate in planning, designing and governing data analytics applications.
“When we talk about human intelligence, it’s directly correlated to speed. Every intelligence test in the world is based on how fast you can solve certain [tests]. Speed is the essence. And the faster you can do something, the faster you can simulate, the higher the probability that you reach a decent result,” Plattner said. “There are data pipelines, governance and workflows from one HANA system, and we can access all other HANA systems and even non-HANA systems. This is very important when we think about Leonardo projects we build outside the system, but can access any kind of data objects or services inside the system.”
Plattner outlined five innovations that are key to SAP HANA Data Management Suite:
- data pipelines that allow access to data at its origin, which improves security and reduces management;
- text and search, including natural language processing of unstructured data from sources like Hadoop;
- spatial and graph functions that can combine business data with geographic and streaming data to enable much faster geo-enabled applications;
- data anonymization that can be done on the fly, allowing for applications that can be in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation in near-real time; and
- persistent memory, which keeps data in nonvolatile storage that can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to reload data in the event of an outage.
“Our objective is not only that we connect everything with everything else, but that we can develop enhancements to products without touching the products. We have to reduce the maintenance efforts,” he said.
Not new, but bundle may help
Hasso Plattnerco-founder and chairman of the supervisory board at SAP
SAP HANA Data Management Suite is not really new, but the bundle may help SAP to market data management applications, said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“It’s a combination of stuff they’ve already announced. So, it’s nothing new, but it’s really the glue to keep the new SAP together. They also want to simplify things; [Plattner] always thinks there are too many products and confusion with names and so on. So, why not put them together?” Mueller said. “In the field, they’re probably going to sell more Data Management Suite and Data Hub now that it’s bundled with HANA. They can throw it in together, so it really is just packaging. It’s a new product, so there’s only a few customers out there. But from what I see, there are some early projects, and it’s going.”
Embedding analytics into S/4HANA Cloud
Analytics is a major focus area for SAP, and the company announced it will begin to embed SAP Analytics Cloud functions directly in S/4HANA Cloud, the SaaS version of its newest ERP platform, allowing organizations to plan and run analytics in one system. SAP Analytics Cloud provides analytics for business intelligence — including SAP BusinessObjects, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) and SAP Business Warehouse (BW) capabilities in one cloud-based platform, said Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of SAP Analytics and SAP Leonardo. The analytics functions are not just available in the data layer of an application.
“We’re not just providing access to data that sits on premises; we’re also supporting things like doing planning in Analytics Cloud that allows you to write that to BPC. So, you can continue to do all of your systems of record in BPC, but access the information and do the planning in Analytics Cloud, which has advanced features and a more modern interface,” Flannagan said. “Just having access to the data is one thing, but our customers haven’t invested in BusinessObjects only because of the data that’s there. It’s also the semantic layer where they’ve made a significant investment — years of investment. So, being able to take advantage of that investment while using cloud functionality is really important.”
SAP faces a crowded competitive landscape on the analytics front, but the expansion of the SAP Analytics Cloud portfolio may help differentiate it, said Doug Henschen, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“SAP Analytics Cloud is roughly 3 years old, but it was fairly late to the market — such that many large customers had already taken other paths to self-service analytics like Tableau, Microsoft PowerBI and Qlik, or to cloud-based planning with Anaplan, Adaptive Planning or Host Analytics. And there’s plenty of competition on the predictive analytics front, as well,” Henschen said.
“Standardization on SAC [SAP Analytics Cloud] across the SAP portfolio is a good move on SAP’s part that could help sway customers to give it a second look,” Henschen continued. “But I think SAP has to continue to deepen the capabilities on the self-service analytics, planning and predictive fronts to stand up against best-of-breed competitors in each of these niches.”