Tag Archives: Warehouse

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud may democratize data analytics

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is the latest products entrant designed to democratize data analytics.

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is a data warehouse as a service product that became generally available in October. It connects a variety of data sources but enables organizations to decide where and how they want to keep and access the data.

It includes some features that should make it attractive to business users, particularly for those already running SAP systems, but SAP Data Warehouse Cloud faces a crowded market. Still, it’s a product SAP clearly needs to remain competitive in the data warehouse and data analytics game, according to one analyst.

Dan LahlDan Lahl

Making data analytics more applicable and accessible to the business is the main goal of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, said Dan Lahl, SAP vice president of product marketing.

“In SAP Data Warehouse Cloud we’ve added new things to the data warehouses that allow customers to define their own data sets, and either virtualize or pull in that data so they can make decisions on exactly the data they want to look at,” Lahl said. “Usually you get five guys with four spreadsheets and everybody’s arguing over who’s got the data and the decision of record. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud will either virtualize or move data, specifically to the information the customer needs, and then the business user decides what dashboards or what reports they want to use on that data. It’s getting to business decisions more quickly for business users.”

One feature, Spaces, enables business users to align data in ways that are aligned with their business or process needs.

“Data warehouses used to take a long time to build. It was very expensive, it took a number of people to build them, and by the time you got to build the reports that you wanted, nobody wanted them anymore,” Lahl said. “This is kind of the antithesis of that, getting the business user to look and access the data they want and then build reporting and visualizations off of that.”

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud also includes SAP Analytics Cloud, which provides built-in reporting and dashboard capabilities.

Opening up analytics

Velux Group, a global manufacturing of windows based in Horsholm, Denmark, has been evaluating SAP Data Warehouse Cloud as a key part in the evolution of its data analytics program. The company has 27 production sites in 10 countries, sales offices in 40 countries, and 11,500 employees.

Andreas MadsenAndreas Madsen

Velux Group is a longtime SAP customer, running SAP ECC for ERP and BusinessObjects BI and Business Warehouse (BW) for data analytics and storage. However, the company has run into some limitations with BusinessObjects and is looking to overcome those limitations with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, said Andreas Madsen, senior data and analytics partner at Velux.

Velux is in the process of developing a new business model to sell more directly to consumers, in addition to the traditional channel of installers and resellers.

“Normally, it’s the installers and dealers that actually sell our windows — we sell through them. So we don’t know that much about our end users, but that’s changing as we’re moving into the online market as well,” Madsen said.

Direct selling requires more flexibility than what Velux’s current systems offer.

“There’s a transition in what we need to know about our end users and how we use data,” he said. “And although we have a very good, well-functioning ECC system, BW, and some classic reporting, it’s really hard to navigate in, it’s really hard to explore data when everything is structured in the data warehouse.”

The ultimate strategic goal is for Velux to become more customer-centric, and Madsen said that in order to do this, the company needs a more open data platform that enables business users to link the data as needed.

“There is a world outside of our corporate enterprise systems. We cover all the business processes in Velux, but if you look at marketing they might have 50 or 60 different databases that that they use data from, they need to be able to cater to that data as well,” Madsen said. “It’s important data, but it’s not something that we are in control of, so we need to give them a platform where they can operate and then combine that with the enterprise data.”

SAP’s needed reaction to data analytics market

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is a necessary evolution of SAP’s HANA-based data analytics approach, especially given the crowded, competitive analytics market, said Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst with Interarbor Solutions LLC.

It needs to be noted that SAP is reacting to the market rather than making the market.
Dana GardnerPresident and principal analyst, Interarbor Solutions LLC

“There are lot of companies out there like Qlik, Tableau, and others that are making inroads and we’re seeing more of this analytics as a service and the democratization of data,” Gardner said. “SAP is recognizing that they need to compete better in all aspects of data analytics and not just the enterprise systems of record integration part of it. But it needs to be noted that SAP is reacting to the market rather than making the market.”

Dana GardnerDana Gardner

The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud approach focuses on the democratization of data analytics and makes it simple and automated behind the scenes, so that more business users get the types of analytics they need based on their business role and what work they are doing, Gardner said.

“You don’t want to make data analytics just available to data scientists. It’s time to break down the ivory tower,” he said. “The more people that use more analytics in your organization, the better you’re going to be as a company, so it’s important that SAP gets aggressive and out on front on this.”

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Cloud database services multiply to ease admin work by users

NEW YORK — Managed cloud database services are mushrooming, as more database and data warehouse vendors launch hosted versions of their software that offer elastic scalability and free users from the need to deploy, configure and administer systems.

MemSQL, TigerGraph and Yellowbrick Data all introduced cloud database services at the 2019 Strata Data Conference here. In addition, vendors such as Actian, DataStax and Hazelcast said they soon plan to roll out expanded versions of managed services they announced earlier this year.

Technologies like the Amazon Redshift and Snowflake cloud data warehouses have shown that there’s a viable market for scalable database services, said David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research. “These types of systems are complex to install and configure — there are many moving parts,” he said at the conference. With a managed service in the cloud, “you simply turn the service on.”

Menninger sees cloud database services — also known as database as a service (DBaaS) — as a natural progression from database appliances, an earlier effort to make databases easier to use. Like appliances, the cloud services give users a preinstalled and preconfigured set of data management features, he said. On top of that, the database vendors run the systems for users and handle performance tuning, patching and other administrative tasks.

Overall, the growing pool of DBaaS technologies provides good options “for data-driven companies needing high performance and a scalable, fully managed analytical database in the cloud at a reasonable cost,” said William McKnight, president of McKnight Consulting Group.

Database competition calls for cloud services

For database vendors, cloud database services are becoming a must-have offering to keep up with rivals and avoid being swept aside by cloud platform market leaders AWS, Microsoft and Google, according to Menninger. “If you don’t have a cloud offering, your competitors are likely to eat your lunch,” he said.

Strata Data Conference
The Strata Data Conference was held from Sept. 23 to 26 in New York City.

Todd Blaschka, TigerGraph’s chief operating officer, also pointed to the user adoption of the Atlas cloud service that NoSQL database vendor MongoDB launched in 2016 as a motivating factor for other vendors, including his company. “You can see how big of a revenue generator that has been,” Blaschka said. Services like Atlas “allow more people to get access [to databases] more quickly,” he noted.

Blaschka said more than 50% of TigerGraph’s customers already run its namesake graph database in the cloud, using a conventional version that they have to deploy and manage themselves. But with the company’s new TigerGraph Cloud service, users “don’t have to worry about knowing what a graph is or downloading it,” he said. “They can just build a prototype database and get started.”

TigerGraph Cloud is initially available in the AWS cloud; support will also be added for Microsoft Azure and then Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in the future, Blaschka said.

Yellowbrick Data made its Yellowbrick Cloud Data Warehouse service generally available on all three of the cloud platforms, giving users a DBaaS alternative to the on-premises data warehouse appliance it released in 2017. Later this year, Yellowbrick also plans to offer a companion disaster recovery service that provides cloud-based replicas of on-premises or cloud data warehouses.

More cloud database services on the way

MemSQL, one of the vendors in the NewSQL database category, detailed plans for a managed cloud service called Helios, which is currently available in a private preview release on AWS and GCP. Azure support will be added next year, said Peter Guagenti, MemSQL’s chief marketing officer.

About 60% of MemSQL’s customers run its database in the cloud on their own now, Guagenti said. But he added that the company, which primarily focuses on operational data, was waiting for the Kubernetes StatefulSets API object for managing stateful applications in containers to become available in a mature implementation before launching the Helios service.

Actian, which introduced a cloud service version of its data warehouse platform on AWS last March, said it will make the Avalanche service available on Azure this fall and on GCP at a later date.

We ultimately are the caretaker of the system. We may not do the actual work, but we guide them on it.
Naghman WaheedData platforms lead, Bayer Crop Science

DataStax, which offers a commercial version of the Cassandra open source NoSQL database, said it’s looking to make a cloud-native platform called Constellation and a managed version of Cassandra that runs on top of it generally available in November. The new technologies, which DataStax announced in May, will initially run on GCP, with support to follow on AWS and Azure.

Also, in-memory data grid vendor Hazelcast plans in December to launch a version of its Hazelcast Cloud service for production applications. The Hazelcast Cloud Dedicated edition will be deployed in a customer’s virtual private cloud instance, but Hazelcast will configure and maintain systems for users. The company released free and paid versions of the cloud service for test and development uses in March on AWS, and it also plans to add support for Azure and GCP in the future.

Managing managed database services vendors

Bayer AG’s Bayer Crop Science division, which includes the operations of Monsanto following Bayer’s 2018 acquisition of the agricultural company, uses managed database services on Teradata data warehouses and Oracle’s Exadata appliance. Naghman Waheed, data platforms lead at Bayer Crop Science, said the biggest benefit of both on-premises and cloud database services is offloading routine administrative tasks to a vendor.

“You don’t have to do work that has very little value,” Waheed said after speaking about a metadata management initiative at Bayer in a Strata session. “Why would you want to have high-value [employees] doing that work? I’d rather focus on having them solve creative problems.”

But he said there were some startup issues with the managed services, such as standard operating procedures not being followed properly. His team had to work with Teradata and Oracle to address those issues, and one of his employees continues to keep an eye on the vendors to make sure they live up to their contracts.

“We ultimately are the caretaker of the system,” Waheed said. “We do provide guidance — that’s still kind of our job. We may not do the actual work, but we guide them on it.”

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