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SAP Vora updates target business insights from Hadoop big data

SAP Vora has been updated to include features that make it easier to deploy and use to get insights from Hadoop big data; SAP IBP brings intelligence to the supply chain.

There's a lot of data in Hadoop, but is there any business insight?

That's a question all businesses must ask, as they find that getting data in and out of Hadoop is one thing, but getting value out of that data is quite another. SAP believes it has one answer with SAP Vora, its in-memory query engine for Hadoop. And the company announced updates to the SAP Vora platform that are intended to improve the process.

It also announced that SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services -- formerly known as Altiscale, which was acquired by SAP in October 2016 -- has expanded its managed Hadoop and Spark platform services to Europe. SAP is planning to launch Vora on its Cloud Platform Big Data Services in both the United States and Europe. The updates were announced at the Strata + Hadoop World big data conference held this month in San Jose, Calif.

"Combining the latest release of SAP Vora with the expanded availability of SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services into Europe demonstrates that SAP has enterprise-class solutions for a broad range of big data needs," Greg McStravick, SAP's president of database and data management, said in a press release. "SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services will help enterprises achieve a high-performance, production-ready Hadoop environment with minimal effort, while SAP Vora helps organizations bring big data insights into the enterprise."

The updates to SAP Vora include a time series distributed in-memory engine that allows time-series data to be stored and analyzed in distributed environments, such as data coming from meters; a graph distributed in-memory engine that supports graph processing and helps execute commonly used graph operations, such as pattern matching, shortest path and connected component using SQL, which is useful for applications like supply chain; and a distributed in-memory JavaScript Object Notation.

Accelerated adoption

In addition to the platform updates, the vendor wants to make SAP Vora easier to deploy and manage, according to Matthew Zenus, SAP's vice president of product strategy go-to-market for its digital enterprise platform group.

To do this, Zenus said, SAP is offering free "industry value accelerators" that contain application components tailored for specific industry use cases. In addition to being available on SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services, SAP Vora can be deployed through Amazon Web Services Marketplace, with the intent of giving users greater flexibility to integrate it with existing applications and develop new applications. It's also supported for deployments by all major Hadoop vendors, including Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR.

"Since it was released, we've seen SAP Vora being involved in several pilot projects and POCs [proofs of concept]. And, now, we're starting to see it in more production environments," Zenus said.

One of these is Tupras, Turkey's only oil refiner, which operates four refineries and uses SAP Vora to extract value from its data.

"The prototype we built together with SAP showed us how we can create direct business value from big data," Baris Duzenli, CIO at Tupras, said in a press release. "Our experience with SAP Vora has been very valuable in terms of connecting the dots between OT [operational technology] and IT landscapes, while allowing innovation around our IoT [internet of things] and data science initiatives."

SAP Integrated Business Planning S&OP platform gets smarter

SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is getting smarter and more automated.

SAP's cloud-based sales and operations planning (S&OP) application is used by companies for demand sensing and forecasting, inventory and sales optimization, and exception-driven response management. It now includes machine learning capabilities intended to help gain more accurate replenishment across all channels, achieve greater supply chain visibility, shorten planning cycles, and get faster and more accurate responses to supply and demand changes, according to the company.

"With customer expectations and market conditions changing constantly, companies increasingly require collaborative planning with powerful analytical capabilities to ensure accurate and agile execution," Hans Thalbauer, SAP's senior vice president of digital supply chain and IoT, said in a press release. "Our integrated planning solution allows our customers to align business objectives with operations to achieve top-line growth and higher profits, while significantly improving customer service, order fulfillment and end-user engagement."

One of the most prominent enhancements to SAP IBP is the addition of machine learning via SAP Clea, the vendor's portfolio of machine learning technology, applications and services. It also now includes the following:

  • Configurable analytics and dashboard apps that are intended to improve monitoring and support faster decision-making;
  • Supply chain network visualization that allows planners to view real-world supply chain networks in digital representations;
  • Enhanced planning algorithms that enable increased automation, such as fair share allocations under constrained supply; and
  • Enhanced product lifecycle management capabilities, including phase-in and phase-out modeling for efficient product launches while managing inventory obsolescence.

SAP IBP's cloud-based modular approach makes sense for manufacturers today, according to Simon Ellis, an analyst and program vice president for IDC's Manufacturing Insights.

"The SAP IBP program is a module-based approach all in the cloud, with the idea that it provides a modern way for manufacturers, retailers or whoever to consume the bits that they need initially, while ultimately getting to a single, integrated set of applications from this IBP platform," Ellis said. "It's a nice vision, and it's the way forward for software vendors; that is how manufacturers are going to buy these tools in the future, and they really do need to be integrated. It will take a little while, because the implementation of these things is not inexpensive, and it's inconvenient and disruptive [to your normal business processes]."

Ellis said he believes the cloud-based modular systems can do everything that old on-premises systems could do, but then add a lot of things that they could not do, like distributed order management or tightly coupled supply and demand planning. 

"So, it's a really modern cloud-based platform for supply chain planning. But there's also some execution things, like transportation management and extended warehouse management, as well, on the execution side," he said.

Next Steps

SAP Enterprise Information Management portfolio updates improve data quality, big data support, ease-of-use and SAP HANA integration.

SAP deeply embraces Hadoop.

Vora is the front-end query tool SAP users need to link HANA to Hadoop data.

Dig Deeper on SAP business warehouse

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