In part one of this blog post, I introduced the aspects of mobility as one of the drivers for SAP’s BI and IM initiatives. In this second part I will focus on the perspectives related to in-memory appliances which seems to be pushed very agressively by SAP these days and wrap-up by adressing what’s to come.
“SCOTTY I NEED WARP SPEED !!!” – In-memory appliances…
The area of in-memory technology has been a significant driver for SAP for the last 3-4 years. The primary reason for this is that SAP’s data warehouse platform SAP Business Warehouse is based on a traditional relational DB architecture – and as such BW has always been far overmatched by other leading vendors of high performing BI platforms such as Microsoft, Terradata and Sybase. As such SAP launched a new technology initiatives back in 2005 which had one primary aim – to introduce the possibility of using in-memory technology with SAP Business Warehouse to overcome the limitations of the SAP Business Warehouse design.
This technology is today know as BWA (BW Accelerator) and is in its latest version (HANA – High Performance Analytical Appliance) moving in a direction where it is evolving into a cross-platform memory appliance being able to support not only SAP Business Warehouse but also a long range of other data warehouse platform and most importantly NOT being limited to only act as an accelerate for SAP data but for all data which you can throw at it.
Now the interesting part is that Sybase has Sybase IQ in their product range which all-in-all has some of the same specs as the BWA and HANA from SAP – including column oriented analytics, data compression algorithms as well as being hardware and OS independent . This can made you think that SAP is introducing a somewhat redundant product range and thereby undermining their investment in BWA and HANA?.
In-memory appliances is a huge strategic goal for SAP and as such I would think that the Sybase acquisition was made to strengthen this initiative and perhaps boost SAP’s own in-memory technology with an even more consolidated and proven platform. As such the 2nd generation SAP in-memory appliance HANA is already here – introducing a complete new way of dealing with the SAP performancegap which has hunted SAP for years – and even opening up for non-SAP data entering the in-memory arena.
So I wouldn’t be surprised if we will see a further consolidation of Sybase IQ and SAP BWA/HANA within a year or two. The most interesting question within this context is if SAP Business Warehouse as we know it today will stop to exist when introducing such a high performance platform. I don’t belive this will be the case – however we will see a major design change of SAP Business Warehouse over the coming years as a direct result of this – staring with BW 7.3 which has just recently been released. Stay tuned for a comming post where I’ll focus specifically on HANA and how it fit into the traditional DW architecture typology such as the CIF architecture.
The years to come…
Besides the synergies mentioned above the latest acquisitions made by SAP has delivered a range of other functionalities such as integration and modeling tools as well as a range of bundled solutions. How all of these will fit into the existing SAP portfolio is difficult to say but in general I would expect that SAP will continue down the path which they have gone for the last ten years and capitalize on the low hanging fruits. If this is going to be the case, what we will probably see over the next couple of years is SAP adapting the product from all their acquisitions which fits easily into SAP’s existing product portfolio or which will be able to close a gap which SAP otherwise would be forced to invest significantly in closing them self.
Specifically I could imagine that products from Sybase such as IQ and RAP from the business intelligence suite as well as Adaptive, Advantage and Replication Server from the Data Management suite will find its way into the SAP/SBOP Business Intelligence portfolio. Regarding mobility solutions I believe it is more difficult to see which will fit in – primarily as especially Sybase comes to the table with a broad range of these – however I’m quite confident that we will see a high-degree of convergence within the mobility framework primarily for SAP enterprise business applications and secondary for SAP Business Intelligence.
Now the question is what influence all of this will have on the individual SAP customer company?. In the short term I expect very little since SAP will need some time to absorb these technologies into its existing framework. Unlike the Business Objects acquisition which could basically be integrated directly into existing SAP software from day one, this is more limited for example for Sybase. However for a primary SAP shop I would recommend a strategy that within the next year or so starts to focus on identifying existing internal skills related to mobility and modeling of in-memory appliances and most importantly, formulate a general message in relation to the existing IM strategy if such is implemented.
In a broader context, one should follow the technology transition closely over the next years especially when comes to how SAP intends to exploit how the various parts of their Analytic and BI suite will be adopted into the existing SAP BI framework. As such SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 has already taken a broad step twoards redefining the SPA BI portfolio. Stay tuned for a comming blog post whcih will focus on SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 and the offerings which is being pushed as part of SAP’s new BI platform…