Unleashing the Big Data Opportunity

SAP HANA Delivers a Re-Imagined Platform for Real Time Business

Where others see challenges when it comes to Big Data, David Jonker sees opportunity.

Despite the explosion in data volume, velocity and variety that has occurred over the last several years (90% of the data in the world has been created in just the last two years) SAP’s Senior Director of Big Data Marketing hears daily from business leaders who are excited about the new insights to be gained through Big Data, and the opportunities it offers enterprises large and small to transform their business, grow closer to their customers, and harness new sources of revenue.

David Jonker

“A lot of top executives in large companies are very interested in Big Data. They see how companies like Google and Facebook leverage data to drive significant revenue, and they want to do the same within their businesses and markets,” explains David. “Of course there are challenges that arise in accomplishing these goals, but business executives see that the opportunity is dramatically greater to turn data into value – whether cost savings, revenue growth or whole new business models.”

“The question from an IT perspective, is then, what tools, technologies and infrastructure do we need to have in place to deliver those insights to the corner office?” says Jonker, “Many people fixate on Big Data as a volume issue. In other words, we’re churning out all this stuff, and where do we store it? On the surface that appears to be the right question, but dig a little deeper and you see that’s actually not the real IT challenge. For decades databases have been able to theoretically store petabytes of data, but that has not been the case in practice because the time required to quickly retrieve that data in a meaningful way makes it impractical. In essence, you need insights at the pace of business or your hands are tied. Insights you can no longer act upon are useless.”

Jonker goes on to explain that the problem lies in the design of the traditional database, which is disk centric. Back when these technologies were first designed in the ‘80s, memory was expensive. If you wanted a terabyte of memory back then, it would have cost the average business over $100 million dollars. So for obvious — and economic — reasons, database vendors opted to build, and companies opted to buy, disk centric database solutions that minimized the use of memory.

However, the speed of memory has increased much faster than the speed of disk. And today, a terabyte of data is cheap. So architectures are now changing in accordance. “As companies started to grapple with more and more data they started to run into the limitations of the traditional database architecture,” says David. “The IT industry looked for ways to get around the bottleneck of disks. Table indexes, columnar databases, massively parallel processing or MPP architectures, and even Hadoop’s scale-out strategy are all essentially finding ways to minimize the impact of disk I/O speeds.”

With the rate of Big Data volume, velocity and variety rising at an astonishing rate, the costs of memory declining at an equally astonishing pace, and major changes to core CPU architectures SAP decided to change the conversation. Rather than follow its competitors in their pursuit to work around the database disk storage and retrieval issue, SAP decided to throw out the disk-centric architecture entirely, creating SAP HANA, a completely re-imagined platform for real-time business, combining database, data processing and application platform capabilities in memory, and optimizing for the latest innovations in CPU design.

“So within the context of Big Data, we’re talking about gathering insights and applying them at the pace the business is running, and that is where the HANA platform comes in,” says David Jonker.

OpenText Building

Of course, no single technology alone will allow businesses to fully capitalize upon the Big Data opportunity. SAP HANA’s in-memory platform certainly plays a significant role as the centerpiece for Big Data management, but to be successful it must be paired with technologies such as data warehousing tools, analytics tool for data visualization and analysis, and integrated with enterprise software applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise information management enterprise content management solutions such as from OpenText. For instance, SAP and OpenText recently announced plans to make OpenText’s Archive product available on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, allowing customers of the SCM solution to take advantage of HANA’s in-memory processing to perform business-critical analysis such as real-time finance and cash flow predictions on enterprise financial data.

SAP Building

Looking to the next horizon for Big Data, David Jonker says SAP believes the future lies in Big Data-enabled applications.

“Big Data becomes interesting when it drives tangible value. That means it needs to be applied in your daily operations. And companies are turning their thinking to how to accomplish that goal in a scalable and cost effective way. We believe a new class of Big Data applications is emerging, and there will be a fundamental rethinking of the way enterprise applications such as ERP or CRM systems are architected, allowing them to more effectively leverage Big Data within the context of the business processes they drive. From detecting the presence of internal fraud in a company’s finance data, to identifying new ways to optimize the supply chain, to uncovering new customer insight that leads to new revenue opportunities, enterprises across the board and across every industry are excited to unlock Big Data’s potential.”

Customers Around the Globe Unleashing the Power of Big Data with SAP HANA

Suning, China’s largest retailer went live with the SAP HANA platform for Big Data after just two weeks of implementation. Suning is now seeing 10 to 1000 times better performance when processing real-time complex available to promise (ATP) inventory checks. Watch the video below:

The German Football Association (DFB) worked with SAP to turn Big Data into smart decisions to improve player performance at this year’s World Cup in Brazil. The German National Team used the SAP Match Insights solution for football, running on SAP HANA, for preparation and post analysis of matches.