SAP is making a strong push into the big data marketplace with a flurry of new offerings, including an analytics software bundle that yokes its BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions with Sybase IQ, its high-speed analytics database. The company also announced it has built bridges between its database-bound systems and the popular Hadoop open-source distributed file system.
According to SAP executives, the biggest selling points of the new analytics editions, which include options for smaller and medium-sized companies as well as for large corporate clients, are increased processing speed and an attractive pricing structure. “We see an increased market demand for in-memory solutions working on large and complex data,” said John Wilkinson, SAP’s vice president of business analytics for global ecosystem and channels. “Our intention is to get all the necessary pieces into an integrated package.”
SAP followed up its analytics announcements on Oct. 24 by unveiling new ways to integrate the Hadoop open-source distributed file system Hadoop with its real-time data warehousing environment based on the SAP HANA platform. SAP said it has formed partnerships with several providers of Hadoop data management software, services and training including Cloudera, Hitachi Data Systems, Hortonworks, HP and IBM.
Speaking of the new analytics package, Paul Clark, vice president of marketing for SAP BusinessObjects, said it helps SAP better service its customers in specific industries, such as health care and insurance. “This is a new direction for SAP in the database market,” Clark said. “We intend to be the No. 2 database provider by the end of 2015.”
The BusinessObjects plus Sybase IQ pairing is only one in a string of developments in SAP’s quest to provide existing customers with increased data access at faster speeds. At the TechEd conference in Las Vegas on Oct. 16, for example, the company announced HANA Cloud, a cloud version of its in-memory database, as well as a hosted version of HANA that operates on Amazon Web Services, allowing companies to run smaller workloads for project-based tasks. The recent announcement of a robust mobile offering rounds out SAP’s plans to break through what it regards as the hype surrounding big data and the artificial division between the application layer and the database tier.
“We call it extreme analytics, instead of big data,” said John Wilkinson. “In the mid-market, it’s not about big data—it’s about the ability to do things at great speeds and with great complexity.”
None of this, however, means that SAP is abandoning its traditional relational database management system. The clearest evidence of this lies in its new mobile application, EPM Unwired, which will include remote access to 40 SAP applications but currently offers no analytics option.
According to Eric Simmons, general manager of machine-to-machine at Rogers Communications, the Canadian enterprise communications services company that has an exclusive agreement with SAP for the next two years to distribute the mobile offering, the current plan is to “leverage some of the other data from different solutions and bring it to SAP.”
SAP has an impressive stream of announcements this fall. But the company will need to do some more legwork to convince customers that its big data solutions are sufficiently differentiated from those offered by rivals such as Oracle (on analytics) and Salesforce.com, (in the cloud), said Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer at Ventana Research.
“SAP continues to execute on SAP HANA technology advancements and its other platforms and applications for cloud computing. It now faces a mindshare battle for the attention of developers and IT management,” Smith, wrote on his blog after attending the recent TechEd conference. Smith added that SAP “has some work to do to gain the attention of this audience. SAP will also need to gain more commitment from its consulting, systems integration and software partners.”
Alec Foege is a writer and independent research professional based in Connecticut, and author of the upcoming book The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @alecfoege.