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01:17 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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SAP Expands Big Data Push

SAP resells Intel and Hortonworks Hadoop distributions, adds big data applications, connectors and scientists.

SAP announced an evolved big data strategy and vision on Wednesday, and it entails new partnerships, new applications, new integrations with BI and analytics software, and a (partly) new big data science team. The partnerships may not make SAP stand out, but the apps and big data team might become a differentiator.

The headliner amid these many steps is SAP's move to extend existing partnerships with Intel and Hortonworks by reselling their respective Hadoop software distributions. SAP put Intel at the head of the announcement because it's clearly counting on it becoming a special relationship.

"SAP plus Intel can galvanize the major investments that Intel is making [in Hadoop] and make it a preeminent release for the industry," said Irfan Khan, the newly appointed senior VP and general manager of SAP big data, in an interview with InformationWeek. "SAP is going to benefit from deep engineering integration between SAP Hana and Hadoop."

SAP has been working with Intel for years on the technology behind its Hana in-memory database platform, so the closer partnership makes sense. It's an attempt at differentiation in a market in which Oracle and HP are partnered with Cloudera, and Microsoft and Teradata are partnered with Hortonworks for Hadoop software. SAP clearly wasn't prepared to go the IBM route and come up with its own Hadoop distribution.

[ Want the lowdown on SAP's KXEN acquisition? Read SAP Buying KXEN For Predictive Analytics. ]

So why would SAP bother with a second partnership with Hortonworks? For one thing, Intel's Hadoop distribution, which has security and performance features designed to make the most of Intel Xeon processors, was introduced to most of the world early this year (after limited early release in China). Its market presence is unknown but undoubtedly limited at this early stage.

The Hortonworks partnership gives SAP a second Hadoop option differentiated as "100% open source," according to Kahn. Hortonworks developed vendor-specific distributions for both Microsoft and Teradata that are designed to be compatible with their management software (and operating system, in the case of Microsoft), but SAP will resell the standard Hortonworks Data Platform.

The bottom line is that we have yet to see what SAP and Intel jointly deliver to "deeply integrate" SAP Hana and Hadoop, and there is nothing SAP-specific in the Hortonworks distribution. So SAP customers will likely use Intel and Hortonworks management tools to run Hadoop and SAP management tools to run Hana and other SAP databases.

SAP took pains to point out that it will continue to work with and support other Hadoop distributions, including those from Cloudera and IBM. So it makes some sense not to mix management environments -- the tools used for deployment, monitoring and so on.

Where do Hadoop and Hana come together? Through querying, which SAP supports through Hive as well as through a SAP Hana Smart Data Access (SDA) layer introduced in May. Based on Sybase data-integration technologies, SDA lets users employ SQL to query data in the Hadoop Distributed File System. SDA will also support, in the near future, access data in NoSQL databases, Kahn said, so it's a single point of data access, not just a simple connector to Hadoop, he insists.

What about query and analysis tools? Here SAP has multiple options from the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio. A BusinessObjects 4.1 release introduced this week supports direct Hive access to data in Hadoop and Amazon Elastic MapReduce. With this approach, Hive SQL query results can be brought into a BusinessObjects Universe (data model) and analyzed alongside, or in combination with, more conventional data collections. Options include ad hoc query, Lumira data visualizations, and online and mobile reports and dashboards.

Bolstering analytics options, SAP announced Tuesday that it plans to acquire KXEN, a deal that would introduce automated predictive analytics that can be embedded into applications.

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/13/2013 | 11:44:32 AM
re: SAP Expands Big Data Push
i don't think we have any enterprise group left untouched of Big Data, with silos of data piling up every day due more and more adoption of BYOD as trend SAP is here with SAP HANA, an in-memory data-analytics.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
9/12/2013 | 5:35:58 PM
re: SAP Expands Big Data Push
Shaun Connolly, VP of corporate strategy at Hortonworks. contacted me with the following correction:

"In your article you mention that 'Hortonworks developed vendor-specific distributions for both Microsoft and Teradata that are designed to be compatible with their management software, but SAP will resell the standard Hortonworks Data Platform.' This is actually not the case: Teradata, Microsoft, and now SAP are all using the standard Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP)."

My key point there is that Hortonworks helped Microsoft and Teradata create software that lets them access and manage Hadoop and their own databases with one set of access controls and system-management tools. I take his point that this software is not, technically, part of HDP.

"MSFT and Teradata have built deeper integrations that they ship as part of their broader offerings," Connolly acknowledged. "Under the hood, they are leveraging work done in things like Ambari, HCatalog, and Hadoop itself to expose the APIs that enable that deep integration."

In a follow up, I asked Connolly if the HDP that runs on Windows is the same HDP that runs on Linux? "There are two installation experiences for Linux and Windows," he said, "but the underlying Apache project bits are the same. The key here is to have an equivalent experience across Linux, Windows, appliances, cloud, etc."
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