New SAP Hana tool aims to put Big Data insights within closer reach

Featuring Hadoop support, the rapid-deployment service targets enterprise users with streaming and unstructured data

A new SAP rapid-deployment service aims to help enterprises tap its Hana in-memory database and computing platform for business-intelligence initiatives involving Big Data.

SAP Hana Big Data Intelligence, rolled out on Tuesday, is designed to let businesses acquire, analyze and present data from a variety of sources quickly and affordably. It can combine SAP's Hana platform with its Event Stream Processor as well as with SAP IQ software and the Apache Hadoop software library when needed.

Though traditionally more focused on structured data such as financial information, Hana was recently updated with support for streaming data focusing on real-time notifications of ongoing events.

It's this type of data that doesn't comfortably fit into the model of the traditional relational database management system -- and that SAP is increasingly trying to support, said analyst Henry Morris, a senior vice president with IDC. Other examples include unstructured data, which is Hadoop's specialty, he added.

"With Big Data, you're getting into streaming data and Hadoop," Morris said. "They're pushing Hana to begin to embrace more of those scenarios."

Also supported by the new offering are sentiment intelligence, which helps companies learn from vocal constituents, and signal intelligence, which taps so-called Internet of Things data to deliver equipment-maintenance forecasting insight.

"For several years, SAP was all about Hana, but now they are much more explicit about recognizing the value of other information-management technologies under their portfolio -- especially those they got with the Sybase acquisition," said Dan Vesset, IDC's program vice president for business analytics and Big Data. "That's good for customers who are increasingly looking for purpose-built solutions for specific use cases."

By working within a computer's memory, Hana makes application data immediately available to users for purposes such as reporting and multidimensional analyses. "It's helpful to be able to get the data right away, so there's no lag," Morris said.

Rapid-deployment versions, meanwhile, commonly follow many companies' new product offerings and offer a quicker way for users to gain an introduction to the new technology, he noted.

Packed with templates for typical Big Data use cases, this latest introduction from SAP is not its only rapid-deployment offering. "All or most large IT vendors have some type of rapid-deployment solutions to help accelerate deployments," Vesset said.

Overall, SAP's main goal is "to get people off Oracle and onto Hana," Morris said. Particularly as SAP continues to diversify beyond big ERP systems, "anything that helps the adoption rate gets people onto their platform."

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Katherine Noyes

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