NEC aims at Big Data 'sweet spot' with new SAP Hana tool

The cluster-management software helps boost availability in the AWS cloud

Cloud computing and SAP's Hana in-memory database can be a powerful combination for data analysis, and new tools could help to make sure it doesn't fall down on the job.

On Friday, NEC released a tool designed to make life easier for data analysts by boosting Hana availability in the cloud.

Focusing in particular on users of the Amazon Web Services cloud, the new tool takes advantage of NEC's ExpressCluster software. The tool can automatically detect system faults as SAP Hana runs on AWS and switch over to a standby server when problems arise. The result, NEC said, is to shorten downtime and improve both availability and operational efficiency.

The tool is aimed both at companies using SAP Hana for high-speed Big Data analyses and those using it for core business-critical systems, the company said.

Eventually, NEC plans to make the software available for other cloud-based services as well.

The new offering fills a distinct need at the intersection of the four key technologies involved, said Kirk Borne, a data scientist and professor at George Mason University.

"SAP Hana delivers in-memory analytics; clusters deliver fast parallel computing speed-ups for analytics tasks; cloud computing delivers scalable on-demand cluster computing; and AWS delivers managed cloud services in an accessible way," Borne said via email. "The NEC tool marries these solutions by providing an AWS-based workflow and cluster-management layer on top of the powerful in-memory analytics from SAP Hana."

The tool could help to democratize analytics, he said, by bringing it to an even broader community of data analysts without requiring a steep learning curve.

Numerous Big Data predictions for 2015 included both cloud-based analytics and in-memory analytics, so "it appears that NEC hit a sweet spot for data scientists," Borne said.

NEC is one of several vendors certified by SAP to work with Hana, so the new solution is probably an effort by NEC to differentiate itself, said analyst Henry Morris, a senior vice president with IDC.

However, it doesn't appear to offer any kind of uptime guarantee, he added.

"That's what the buyer would want to hear -- if they stand behind this offering," Morris said.

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