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SAP expands big-data-as-a-service platform with Altiscale deal

SAP's acquisition of Altiscale expands its big-data-as-a-service footprint; Attunity automates data integration for SAP data and big data platforms with Replicate for SAP.

SAP is expanding its portfolio of big data offerings with the acquisition of Altiscale, a leading big-data-as-a-service vendor.

This is a "tuck-in acquisition" that complements the technology SAP has been building around big data, according to Michael Eacrett, SAP vice president of product development for big data, EIM and SAP HANA Vora.

"This is something that we're building out anyway with HANA Cloud Platform, but it gives us something beyond just infrastructure as a service, which a lot of companies provide," Eacrett said. "But this truly is managed big data as a service when you think about elastic scaling, the high degree of SLA's that enterprises now require, and it mirrors the maturing area of big data that says data is valuable, let's turn it into something the enterprise can use."

Altiscale was founded in 2012 by former Yahoo executives who were strong advocates of Hadoop. It is a pure cloud company that focuses on big data as a service with its Altiscale Data Cloud for big data infrastructure and Altiscale Insight Cloud for self-service analytics.

"We see very complimentary integration with the technologies that we have already, like HANA Vora," Eacrett said. "Altiscale gives us the data management and operations aspects that provide analytics and reduce the overhead for companies that want to deploy big data without having to spend huge amounts of their operations budgets on managing the Hadoop. They can spend more time on innovation; for example, do data discovery with that data rather than just managing it."

Current Altiscale customers are primarily based in North America with data centers on the East and West Coasts, and Eacrett said that SAP will look to expand its operations to SAP's data centers in Europe and Asia.

Altiscale's BDaaS platform is used in a variety of industries to allow companies to use big data for innovative business applications. The cloud is a big incentive for companies that have not had big data applications previously, according to Eacrett.

"If you look at their history, a lot of the companies that initially used Altiscale were online gaming companies that used it to store all their data -- all the events that happen in there, all the billing, things like that," he said. "Obviously as companies that were founded in the cloud, they didn't have data centers so they used managed data centers and managed data-as-a-service offerings." Now, he said, more and more traditional companies, such as big banks, are moving away from a core IT strategy that sometimes involved building their own servers as a competitive differentiator, and instead using infrastructure as a service.

Altiscale will run as an independent organization under SAP executive Bernd Leukert, according to Eacrett.

SAP big data integration gets easier

Big data gets another boost with the release of Replicate for SAP, a data integration tool from Attunity, a data management software vendor based in Burlington, Mass.

Replicate for SAP is designed to make it easier for organizations to extract data from complex SAP application structures and push it into big data platforms such as Hadoop, Kafka, and MongoDB, according to Kevin Petrie, Attunity senior director and technology evangelist.

The goal is to make this process much simpler and easier by automating the process, Petrie explained. Replicate for SAP transforms the data from SAP's complex structures, such as tables, into data models that the analytics platforms can handle more easily. This means that data from SAP documents, transactions, and business data can be used in big data analytics applications.

"Traditionally, if you want to integrate the data you have to take it out of those complex SAP structures by a basically manual process, so you're dealing with a lot of complexity, and it can take a long time," Petrie said. "Replicate provides the ability to support SAP as a source, so you can have data that you've selected and copied from any core or SAP-specific module, and then send this in bulk or with real-time updates to any of the other targets that Attunity supports, including relational databases, data warehouses, Hadoop, databases on premises or in the cloud. This means that more people can perform this faster and with less training."

Attunity's customers include large banks and automotive companies that use Replicate for SAP to move data from thousands of SAP business applications into Hadoop data lakes, according to Petrie, which allows them to become more strategic about how they can handle operational and transactional data.

"If an SAP environment has retail transactions that are taking place and hitting the SAP database in real time, Replicate can take those real-time transactions and have them replicated instantly to Hadoop where that data might be correlated with other unstructured data in order to yield a real-time response," Petrie said. "So someone might walk into a store and buy something and based on recent social media posts or other transactions -- and they have a smartphone account -- they can get a real-time location-based offer to their smartphone in response."

Replicate for SAP is available this month in on-premises and cloud versions.

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