Solving the HANA Puzzle: Optimized Infrastructure Choices


I was recently meeting with SAP customers while traveling through Singapore and Bangkok. What I found on these travels was a growing market with unique challenges, and some brilliantly spicy food. I also found a customer base dealing with the same global questions of “HANA” and “Cloud”. It’s a statement of fact that IT must evolve by reducing the on-going cost equation, and replatform to faster, more flexible architectures in order to keep pace with the Line of Business (LOB). One of my old mentors from the 90’s had a tag line: “Speed Kills”. The sensibility of this statement has only become more relevant over the last 20 years.

Yes, HANA and Cloud are the two levers of change in the SAP customer base, and I find a constituency that is focused on getting this right. IT budgets aren’t what they were in the 90’s, and they are dealing with the major realities of running mature global IT operations. I interpret their collective position as one trying to solve a challenging puzzle.

As I prepared to present last week, I wanted to engage the audience. While waiting for my turn to speak, I came up with the “HANA Puzzle” concept below. The “HANA Puzzle” went over pretty well with the audience and I think it’s relevant for the broader SAP community, so I wanted to share it with you. Here’s a quick step through of my Whiteboard talk.

Slide2

“Can you solve it?” I asked the audience. They trained their eyes on the seemingly arbitrary list of letters, yet found no hidden key. So, I began to explain to them, the HANA puzzle.

The first letter is “A”, that stands for…

APPLIANCE – When HANA was first released, SAP limited infrastructure variability by requiring every deployment of HANA to be installed on a certified appliance. This ensured HANA had the appropriate compute horsepower required to run, and it simplified the deployment process for the customer. Even today there are many customers who are inclined to consider an appliance model for their deployment of HANA because of its initial simplicity. In reality, the appliance model was a contemporary of early HANA when limits were welcomed, but it loses favor for mature deployments. Today where HANA deployments moving into their second, third, fourth step of evolution, TDI has become the model of choice.

TAILORED DATA CENTER INTEGRATION (TDI) – TDI is the ability to install HANA on top of a customer’s IT landscape through a self-certification process. There are still some requirements for component validation, but the effect is a significant savings in overall TCO. I recommend this paper by Antonio Freitas on the mainstreaming of TDI for a full review of TDI’s impact.

Why is TDI a better solution for TCO? Simple, IT operations have been refined for multiple decades to optimize on a horizontal model. Key optimization techniques like capacity planning and load balancing are a function of the maximization of shared resources. Most customers have found that they can run HANA successfully within their existing landscape, or optimize their infrastructure with new tech that maximizes across multiple axes, not just their HANA deployment. As important as cost, this additionally provides the maximum flexibility for operations. Finally, using IT standards leverages the company’s existing skill sets.

All of these are key optimizations that TDI enables, but probably the most singularly important optimization TDI supports is our “V” in the puzzle. Here is a blog by SAP’s Bill Zang covering the impact of TDI and virtualization on the cost of systems operations.

VIRTUALIZATION – OK I am guessing a few of you figured out the “V” in the puzzle was virtualization, because virtualization’s power to optimize is well known. If you are curious how that specifically impacts HANA, here’s a quick read on the basics of Vsphere 5.5 support specific for HANA. I am comfortable in saying that, today, virtualizing non-production HANA is common practice. The savings created through standing up and shutting down Virtualized HANA development environments and the improved model for HA and DR alone justify including HANA in your non-production environments. However, some companies have ventured even further, using virtualization in production. Watch Bill Reid talk about his deployment of virtualized HANA in production for EMC IT.

Well the puzzle is in the process of being solved, can you guess was “P” is for?

Slide3

PRIVATE CLOUD – It’s a short, but steep leap from Virtualization to private cloud. Private cloud adds in the next level of application/DevOps functionality to the stack, which further abstracts and automates HANA away from the physical data center and into the cloud. Private cloud does this while the providing the most cloud protection via hard-walled environments. There are many ways to deploy HANA on private cloud including the market leading solution from Virtustream called xStream Cloud Management software. This solution granularizes the environment into small compute chunks and optimizes the layout to minimize the HANA workload’s footprint. Then xStream routinely monitors usage of each unit of compute. The system will further automate the starting and stopping on SAP environments, minimalizing the amount of human interaction needed for HANA landscape operations. This is useful, for customers who deploy “on-premise” and “off-premise”.

ON/OFF PREMISE – Let’s continue the conversation on xStream to apply its optimization to an off-premise environment. If you have contracted Virtustream for managed services or are using xStream sfw for hosted private cloud, then the products ability to turn off and on small compute units called “MicroVMs” translates into significant savings. By monitoring whether a MicroVM is on or off every 5 mins, Virtustream minimizes their charges to actual consumption, only charging for compute units that are “on”. Add in the automated starting and stopping of SAP workloads, and a hosted private cloud can translate to 20, 30, 50% or more savings over your existing deployment.

SAP sees private cloud as a key catalyst to the success of HANA. SAP created a specification for private cloud called HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) which they provide through a small certified list of providers (including EMC/Virtustream).

Can you guess the “H” yet?

Slide4

HYBRID CLOUD – Now we’re getting serious. Hybrid cloud is the next frontier of HANA and SAP computing. Only the most advanced SAP companies have begun to venture into the future of a hybrid cloud model. There is some ambiguity in the market as to what defines a hybrid cloud. Is a customer who has Success Factors SAAS and a hosted private cloud for HANA, a hybrid cloud? Well yes, probably; and by this definition hybrid is somewhat mainstreamed. However, when I mention an elite group of customers heading to the future… well I’m talking about more advanced functionality. I am referring to the ability to create elasticity by bursting workloads from on premise to off or from one cloud location to another. This is the promise of a huge step in further optimization, but there are natural roadblocks to hinder progress. “How big is your data?” or “HANA is an in-memory platform” are two great examples. So today you can not slice off an intra-workload within HANA and seamlessly float it to the cloud. However, think of needs for elasticity in development, system migration, HA, or DR? Hybrid functionality can be really impactful to operations of global businesses.

Let me tell you about one personal experience. Again I am going to use xStream Cloud Management software as an example. I recently worked with resources from Virtustream, EMC and VCE to test out a bundled solution putting xStream on a Vblock. The objective was to allow customers run the cloud optimizing software within their data centers and operationally communicate with other xStream-based clouds. We put this solution through the paces. There were several scenarios like “cloud site failure”, and “system migration between sites” that were proved out. In our first few phases of testing we have had amazing results. Check out this solution brief for more information.

PUBLIC CLOUD – The final “P” is for public cloud. For mission critical systems, public cloud is less impactful than its sister cloud derivations, yet it can’t be overlooked when SAP customers are looking at overall optimization. Public cloud can provide a variety of offerings from SAAS offerings like SuccessFactors, to small online HANA development environments, to offloading a company’s traditional landscape or as a tool for addressing big data requirements. Here’s a story from about BlueFin’s leverage of public clouds for their SAP landscape. As companies plan their replatforming efforts they should consider public cloud as a tool to round out their overall strategy.

Well… We’ve solved the “HANA Puzzle”.

Slide5

I called it the “HANA Puzzle” because for many companies its not a question of why HANA, they know that HANA is the future; yet the “how” and “what” can be confusing because of the amount of evolution we’ve experienced in the last few years. I hope you see an “answer” in my solution to this puzzle. Everyone has to define their own journey, but there is tangible precedence in the market on what decisions will maximize both your operational flexibility and TCO.

Delelet

For current and future EMC customers, I want to point out; EMC Federation (including EMC, Virtustream, and VMWare) provides the market with the hardware, software and services to address each and every iteration and derivative of HANA you may choose, across the entire “puzzle”.

I hope this helps you solve your own path for HANA. Please feel free to share your story or ask for details on any of this as needed.

(As for the hot and spicy food… a few of my favorites were Rendang, Laksa and this spicy bamboo salad in Bangkok… Man, it doesn’t taste the same in the States… Loved it.)

Vishal Sikka Makes it Official – The Wall between Operations and Analytics is Obliterated


SAP Announced today the ability to run SAP Business Suite on top of their HANA in-memory platform. Like the fall of the Berlin wall, there is little now that stands between the real-time analytics functions and what will be lighting fast operational business processes running on the same state of the art platform. I have been talking in my blogs for a while… that analytic processes aren’t complete unless they kick off operational “actions” that follow through on newly generated insights. With this announcement, SAP takes the industry a step closer to that future, today.

Unlike Oracle, who has built an iron forest of Oracle specific appliances, SAP has enabled the eco-system to provide a “HANA economy”. The consumer has options for supporting products that resemble the assets that run in their current data centers (which is smart…) and there is a legion of well trained Global Change Agents (Read about some of them here) to help customers get from “idea” to “execution”. Time to Value is a hot commodity in this new world order.

At EMC we’re additionally seeing customers working to transform their legacy world. This combines not only hot products like HANA, but additionally addresses how to leverage cloud, _aaS initiatives, and to increase their Opx to Capx ratios. With SAP FKOM only a couple weeks away, its going to be a Fast start to 2013 as we all try scramble from talking about it through quotes, contracts, and time spent to get to results.

This also takes HANA out of the sandbox and into Data center. Though there have been notable production usage of HANA, today’s announcement moves from what was primarily greenfield, to a massive legacy install base. I’m sure we’ll hear more from SAP at FKOM on the details of this announcement and I am sure their initial limitations to ramp through, but the pit-bull has pushed his nose through the paper bag, HANA moves into the Mission Critical category without doubt.   This means an evolution of current limited specs to have HANA eventually look more like the rest of our customers’ landscapes. You can’t shove a multi-national fortune 100 in a several system nodes and call it a day. IT is a mature industry with lots of technology and process that will need to be integrated.

I look forward to the journey. See you at FKOM!

Here’s a few more write ups (some with slides, photos and opinions…)

ZDNET     CMSWire  INFOWorld  TECH-CRUNCH

Find me on Twitter: ASitison  or on SAP Community Network

SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid: and the Hat-trick of Business Transformation


Last week I spent an inspiring and almost sleepless week in Madrid for Sapphire NOW. The labor strike did not mute our collective efforts to align and plot our joint work within the SAP EMEA Marketplace. As expected, everyone was there. Monday Afternoon before show startsThere were over 10,000 in attendance and many more connecting in via the web. From the “world of SAP” perspective, the concrete is still drying on the major changes that have been announced during the last few SAP events, so as expected, this was not a year of shocking new announcements, but more the foundational establishment of these ideas as they begin to be realized. I went to the show to understand if Americas and EMEA have different optics on SAP’s direction and if either showed a glimmer of a leadership position on advancing the “next gen” of SAP. (more on this later…) bueno no?

 To accomplish this task, I had to talk with many customers, friends and SAP smart-guys alike. It started with a customer dinner sponsored by EMC, VMW, Cisco & Intel at the Casino de Madrid. Monday night 40 or more of us gathered in this grand hall for an friendly start of the week. An opening of sorts on the ideas we would continue to discuss throughout the coming days. What a brilliant location to do this. (Happy Birthday @Sylvie75015 & Parmeet!) 

To move forward in this one way discussion, let me first state my position on what is changing business today. I have heard no better summarization nor have I found any outliers to my assessment of where the business dollar is spent today to transform. I like my version, which I’ll share with you now. So… consider yourself lucky to get this brilliance straight from the Donkey’s mouth. 😉  Today there are 3 things that are driving spend. A hat-trick of trends that are not only singularly important, but together they make an inertial jolt that cracks the patina off everything status quo.

Primary Business Dollar Spend Today:

–          Application Modernization (I include cloud/virtualization here)

–          Business Analytics

–          Global Mobile User

These three trends are driving the majority of focus and together they literally change the industrialized world from back office to storefront.  If you’re hardware and processes can float in a cloud, while your self-service global user uses “choose your own” mobile devices to interact with your business which is smarter about core competencies because of the better use of the data you own, you can see how optimization in cost, revenue, share of wallet, distribution, commerce, inventory, etc… all change.  Who’s the looser in this new world order?  Those who use 1990’s binoculars to view 2020 business models and those who frankly aren’t creative or open enough to engage their customer and eco-system in a transformative process.  Ok we are susceptible to DotCom-itis here. However, we’re not talking about ill-thought shallow commerce tools (I hope…). If you don’t see the opportunity for business model change, you may find yourself working for the person who did.

So to me, the strategy is to build the disciplines and open up the frontal lobe a bit.  Just as we have had massive specialization over the last few decades. I believe we will continue to see companies become more inter-dependant; “nodes” on an inter-linked mesh of business process and market options. We can’t make products and then sell them. We will need to be more collaborative across the process from idea to inventory to satisfaction and support. We reduce blockages between the expert and the consumer, our job is to hook our competence to the plumbing of “demand”. This requires much higher levels of trust, confidence and interactions between the platform creators, market innovators and the change agents that make it happen.

I bring all this up because I believe the SAP eco-system is the best staged in the industry to begin this journey.  First SAP has the three jeweled crown to make the most of the Hat-trick.  This includes their invigorated platform with key cloud offerings through the eco-system (aka CSC, AWS, SunGard, etc.). They have HANA/ASE to transform analytics, plus the database layer of the stack, and they have the Afaria mobility platform to engage the mobile user. Not that they haven’t done a good job creating the product suite, but the mastery is in how they changed the dialog. The last few Sapphires have focused on everything from jacked-up iPads running the front-end of SAP, to social stories about small business incubators who leverage SAP, analytics and mobile to reach places that don’t always have consistent power, much less german engineered business systems.  The keynotes predict the change and demonstrate the initial flicker of opportunity that awaits.                                                                                   Jim Snabe in his keynote, addressed the changing model of distribution. Smartly he used the analogy of  the music industry which transformed from LP albums to iTunes over a 20 year span. He took the audience through how these changes were not always comfortable and in some cases left some folks standing by the roadside, while giving birth to new innovators like Apple. Through this example he showed “tech” companies can be “business” companies as well.  From this clear example, he took the collection of us through other industries like fashion and financial services and showed how these same patterns are appearing across industries. Reduced formalized/packaged distribution, increased consumer involvement in the design and fulfillment process. He implied how output becomes less of a  structured assembly-line product and more of an interactive “result” (consider Gone with the Wind vs Call of Duty; or Catcher in the Rye hardcover v/s Rye Whiskey Wikipedia entry…).

I also heard a common message from what I call the change agents, the Deloittes, Accentures, or Bluefins of the world. Whether large or small most are working on speeding business process change while looking at a massive customer base who’s running SAP like they did in the 1990’s. There is a treasure box of services waiting for those who can help companies apply cloud, analytics and mobile in new ways to speed their time to value, reduce costs/risks, while they enjoy performance improvements in the new world order.  Good news, the platform technologies help like they never did before.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Sanjay Mirchandani speak on the transformation of IT at EMC (including a global deployment of SAP), you are missing one of the best examples of the future in the market today. Sanjay can talk for hours about ITaaS, choice driven mobility integration, and what you realize in this message, you can’t even begin until the landscape is 100% virtualized.  His choice tool for this were “Vblocks“. The improvements he has driven in responsiveness, cost reductions and ultimately…agility are profound.  If you look at the technologies he used in the plan (VCE, VMW, EMC, Cisco, SAP, Spring Source, etc.) the needed combination of innovations have only been together for approximately a year.  We are on the cusp of great change.  As for change agents, Sanjay’s team used experts from the eco-system like Accenture to help get it right and apply tribal knowledge. These changes I speak of requires the piece parts to come together to make change happen.

I stated that there were not many ground breaking announcements, but on Thursday VMware and SAP announced HANA on Vsphere. Today this only supports non-production deployments, but having the ability to virtualize HANA provides a new level of flexibility and improves provisioning during the sandbox period, helping accelerate HANA adoption. EMC and Cisco were happy to see this alignment push through. Again one more example of convergence between the big drivers of business transformation.

I’ll end by mentioning the SAP Mentors. If you haven’t had the pleasure of spending time with the Mentors, it’s your loss. This is a “band of brothers” who have been honored by inclusion in the Mentor program. You can’t buy your way in, you have to earn it. Membership spans outside of SAP and this group is on the front lines of change. I had the chance to catch up with several mentors at the show and I can tell you that what many of us would call keynote “hipe” is substantiated in the “hands” of these mentors. Customer innovation isn’t an empty demo, these guys are seeing it happen in the field. Some of them relatively young (compared to me) will be the lead guard of what’s to come. They are helping set the new agenda.

Again it was a great trip. I mentioned at the front of this blog that part of my journey was to highlight the similarities and differences between Americas and EMEA. I am shocked to say, I saw little difference. The dialog is global, so as you slip between one geographic theater to another… the wall-paper is quite familiar. Its more about meeting the people involved than drastic differences in strategy. People work with people they like.  In a swirling whirlpool of transition, some things never change. Chao.

Analytic-Driven Action, one step into the uncharted abyss… What Now?


 Hello everyone. A topic that has been running through my mind is what impact does “analytic-driven action” have on our analytic, reporting and operational business systems. First there is plenty of stochastic prose about terminology used in BI/BA space today. I think it’s important you are aware of my interpretation of the terminology, so I put a write up at the end of the blog.

Otherwise we’ll continue.

My interests today are around predictive analytics and real-time analytics. Let’s assume we’re using super fast equipment returning data in milliseconds or we’re leveraging predictive tools that allow us the ability to take on the proactive steps in engaging customers, partners or employees in real-time. If we have the ability to leverage new found intelligence to effect action (aka analytic-driven manipulation of the user experience) my question is what do you do with it and how do you set up your systems so that you can do not just one data-driven action, but essentially blend analytics and operational systems in an iterative social activity?

What I am talking about here is a perfect puree of business, sales, support, and analytics systems. In other words we’re talking 100’s of millions if not billions of dollars of transformation for you average Fortune 100 company to put this into action. So we have to make an enormous, profitable market while we’re at it. And, hopefully change the world.

There are a few ways I’d like to evolve the thinking on this topic to make it worth the effort. In this blog I have laid out a few areas to consider in forming an approach. First topic: if we’re going to do “Analytic-Driven Action” we need to include additional functionality beyond our CRM and ecommerce toolsets. Let’s also consider:

–          True Engagement – Sending a coupon based on my GPS co-ords is shallow and intrusive.  Engage me, know me, interact with me, and provide more than I know about myself and my surroundings. As Guy Kawasaki  likes to put it “Enchant me”.

–          Cross System Integration – You want to immerse and manipulate me, then you’ll need to bring multiple sources of information together to create data that expands my accessible knowledge about items in my locale, and about the other people around me who resemble me in a demographic way.

–          Process Management – We’ve all been on that phone call where 30 people join a weekly cadence and no one’s done anything… Our systems are similar we can’t shepherd important customer/client/constituent interaction without being able to take an action and follow through. We’ll need workflow technology to deliver on our promises.

–          Authorized Personal Profile – The privacy answer can’t be “no systems” or “no privacy”. We need concentric circles of privacy, where we allow access to our general profile, our personal relationships, and our financial/health data. Allow us to let people into our circles and establish a social contract of privacy that is democratic and individually controlled, yet universally leveraged.

–          Minimum Collective Knowledge – Recently I did an informal survey as I ran on the treadmill at my local YMCA. The Y had 4 choices in 24/7 news running (CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC) That day I ran about an hour and in that time, I would tell you unofficially, these 4 stations only overlapped on about 10% on the news they covered, (overlap of all 4 on same topic was about 4%). There were interesting stories across the spectrum, but really quite different. If you didn’t invest in churning between channels, you really miss part of the contemporary experience. Ultimately, we’re living different lives side-by-side. If the polarization of our politics is any example of that, then I am concerned with the specialization of information creating more distance between us and our commonalities waning.  Yes this is a societal issue, but it has relevance in this discussion. We can’t get so specialized that we forget the value in a common dialog and the structures that compose that. If we get out of “broadcasting” activities how is that lessened need supported and/or replaced.

When we talk about Analytic-Driven Action, we often reference the use cases of “fast trades on the trading floor”, or “proximity offers to mobile user” as examples.  These are two early versions in this field of thought, but they don’t test out the conceptual model to my satisfaction.  Let’s find something more interesting.  Life’s two most important activities are to “live” and “reproduce”.  I want to keep my “G rating”… so I’m going to choose “Iive” as the verb for my use case.  We all want to live and we are all motivated to take action that will ensure we live while shopping, exercising, taking a business trip, etc. In my mind, living is made up of primarily 4 things:

  • Historic vices & virtues – what you’ve done right & wrong in the past. This has little to do with your future, but you may already have been impacted by it. I put stress in the “vice” category…
  • Current vices & virtues – what you do today really matters for your current health
  • Environmental factors – Is there a piano hanging over your head, or a hurricane off the coast?
  • Defects – Genetics… Some of us have defects that will appear, and some will be fatal.

So what could we do to improve a person or group’s chances of living?  A quick brain dump of marginal ideas rendered the following list:

  • Remind someone they haven’t exercised in two days, and provide suggestions on optimal time to exercise with close locations based on weather and schedule
  • Point them to 5 people within a mile that also would like to play a pick-up game of basketball
  • Report that you’re current hydration, heart rate and temperature for people you age has lead to ___% instances of hypovolemic shock in the last year.
  • Offer a note that someone similar to them has just sat down for coffee alone and wouldn’t mind a conversation.
  • Identify other close-proximity people in a traumatic situation, so that the team can group to survive.
  • ID tha someone 1 mile away is looking for an expert in your expertise. (service is healthy…)
  • Verbal “play by play” steps to perform CPR, merged with a launched 911 call with GPS co-ords auto supplied, notifying a doctor that is 200 yds away.
  •  See that you are late for you meeting automatically sending an email to the attendees with an estimated arrival and/or launch a bridge call to connect everyone to get started.
  • Suggest products that are located within walking distance (when you have a free 30 mins in your schedule) that people of similar profile have purchased for health reasons, and accept alternative requests from the user. “No I don’t want a Buns of Steel Video, but my wife did need a cartridge for the Brita filter, is there one close?”

   How do systems have to change?

So maybe I went on too long about ideas and I am sure there are tons of other, better ideas. My point is that let’s not do thinly veiled commerce with “did you know there’s a Tony Romo around the corner…” type activity, but let’s actually impact people’s lives in a positive way. Analytics can’t crunch through numbers in real-time, then feed little digital billboards to us and call it innovation. Instead engage with the ability to inspire and interact.  This requires something more than real-time analytics, it requires our operational systems to respond in similar ways. Not that everything will run in real-time, but the systems need to interact on demand, kicking processes off that then come back with answers or start execution of other events and deliverables.  Additionally, we need the ability to integrate with other sources of data and operational systems that are owned by others.  The “supply chain” revolutionized the retail store, thus this model will revolutionize our economy and ultimately society all by surrounding the individual and his/her tribes.  We need to apply various flavors of analytics in conjunction with operational systems with the individual in mind, instead focusing on short-money targets. Otherwise we will miss a grand opportunity to change the way we do business in the future.

=Terminology Reference Section=

Here’s my little reference section on terminology. Is there a difference between all the current buzzwords? I believe the answer is yes and there is a difference worth noting. Here’s a reasonable definition I support (http://bit.ly/Of0tXt). I have also provided my 2 cents on the differences of BI, BA, RTA, & PA in this section.

Business Intelligence (BI) was, is and will be a function within corporations that generates reports on internal operations, sales tickets and possibly soft targets like customer feedback. It is the reporting function that sits upon primarily relational databases today and has been mostly rear facing. The primary data management functions within BI are to aggregate and slice views out of the big chunk of data (i.e. June Revenue, Inventory Turns, Customer wait time, etc.). Companies read this intelligence and react to change their business. I do believe this term will evolve to incorporate the entire world of business analytics, if for no other reason companies like SAP with their BusinessObjects, Sybase, and HANA products will continue to use the term BI in their product suite. That’s ok, but in most companies today it’s their reporting system and different than analytics.

Business Analytics (BA) is different. I am NOT saying it’s new and that some companies haven’t been deploying business analytics/data analytics in their overall business intelligence investments, but most haven’t considered its impact at the same level that they do today. Business analytics is the leverage of statistical analysis to explore business interactions and data correlations. These tools were once relegated to the engineering or science lab, but now are being employed in BA. BA uses linear regression, logarithmic regression, k-means, hypothesis testing, scatter plots to iteratively push millions of bits of data through analytic pipes hoping to get new insight at the end. “We can say with 95% certainty that customers with yellow cars will likely to… in this scenario…” It’s more like archeology than a hardened business process.

Real-time Analytics (RTA) So what is the difference in real-time analytics and predictive analytics? These two are arbitrarily inter-changed in the press today. Probably because it is not profitable for companies to split hairs over such definitions and thus the lines blur, but in my mind they are distinctly definable and different. The term real-time comes from real-time systems. R-T Systems are required to not only compute, but compute at a given speed. While getting my masters, I worked at a company writing code for real-time systems, in my case NTSC (20 frames/sec). It is difficult to ensure that code written on one system runs consistently at the same speed on another system. As you can guess they don’t, you have to come up with algorithms that create the consistency.  So to me real-time analytics not only refers to systems that can deliver fast results, but that the analytics has some form of temporal requirement.

Predictive Analytics (PA) is not a time based activity, it is primarily leveraging tools like linear regression to determine the “Y” deviation as you plot x.  If you have thousands of examples of x,y plotted out and you know your “x”, you can predict your “y”.  For example: “If you are 40 years old, then you have a 50% or better likelihood of you will ___ your____”.  We’re using vast historical knowledge to predict behavior.

EMC-Cisco Put Big IT Power in SAP HANA Solution


 In case you didn’t put your eyes on this important piece of information, there was a press release last week that dropped the green flag on the HANA race: “Cisco and EMC Deliver Premier Infrastructure Solution Running SAP HANA for Big Data”. The product is a stack comprised of a Cisco UCS blade server, Cisco Nexus switches and an EMC VNX 5300. I won’t go into the configuration details here, but I will mention the lack of need for FusionIO cards, the multi-protocol flexibility (file & block support), and the 5 9’s availability that this stack provides. This configuration, which simplifies interfaces, is what SAP is calling a “scale out” configuration providing disaster tolerance in addition to meeting performance requirements. I think this is an interesting entrant to the market for several reasons. Let’s first look at it from EMC’s current messaging they unveiled at EMC World just a couple weeks back.

“Cloud Transforms IT and Big Data Transforms Business”

For a couple of years now EMC with its partners Cisco, VMware and VCE have been setting the measurement for private, hybrid, public clouds with the Vblock architecture. Let’s face it; it can be difficult to inject new technologies into an industry segment like SAP because of the mission criticality of the associated landscapes. In the beginning, many were skeptical if this venture would fly, because it was disruptive and it required not only SAP customers, but the ecosystem to get behind it to create a cloud economy of sorts. History shows that it was well received; many of the global integrators and service providers set up standards on Vblock, built hardened procedures for deployment, and created demonstrations of their best solutions on the platform. Now many of those initial buyers have started a chain of customers who are going into production, signs are good for the Vblock as a critical platform in the realization of SAP on the Cloud. As the tagline states: “Cloud transforms IT”, I was Emcee at a CIO luncheon during EMC World where we had 3 customers speak about their virtualization/cloud journeys with SAP and it was interesting to not only hear the positive comments, but to hear the way they talked about what is next. The tone and terms they used painted a sense freedom. They were thinking bigger, more aggressively than those who are stilling managing the world on physical architectures. For those who have dipped a toe or have dived in head first into the cloud will tell you, the water’s warm, come on in.

Ok great if you give me the latitude to believe my glowing report above (I know I’m biased, but it is true). Then let’s get on to the 2nd component of the tagline: “Big Data Transforms Business”. It’s hard to dispute this statement out right. I think everyone gets the concept of exploiting the inherent growing atmospheric datascape around us will generate new insights in sales and services for companies, and reduce their costs to up sell and please their customers. BUT…

It’s a big BUT… Very few in the industry have figured out how to orchestrate the change. Analytics is esoteric, super brain work that is done with statistical nuance. How do you volumize, programmatize it, is the fresh and challenging question. Most analytics programs have been the realm of Line of Business (LOB) departments who aren’t necessarily versed in big IT. They don’t understand how to go big with big data.

SAP, the market leading provider of business software, has earned the necessary IP clout to make big moves in analytics. Yet traditionally they were not deep in big IT. If I were to put words in their mouths… “IT is a necessary evil that costs too much and adds complexity to our customers’ missions”. With that said, they have been investing for a few years now to understand how innovations like “cloud” can be a catalyst to change. Add to that Oracle’s investment in proprietary vertically integrated stacks and SAP has formed a new level of interest in what’s going on below the deck… So much so, I believe SAP has made the biggest move in database technology in a decade. With the creation of HANA and the purchase of Sybase, SAP has created the general market’s first mainstream in-memory (lightening fast) database which works (will work) in conjunction with Sybase ASE to provide a cheaper platform than their rival Oracle (per their claims). This gets interesting if you understand how much of their existing install base currently uses Oracle, and may eagerly consider a reduction in that investment. Now SAP is defining the terms of the next battle. You could easily say that SAP is the best-in-class business software vendor with a dark horse position in the database market.

Now take “Big IT” best-in-class providers Cisco and EMC who have a significant joint SAP install base, and have compatible market offerings, and the collective opportunity between these companies becomes positive ballast pressing on the tipping point of SAP’s HANA/Sybase go-to-market.

The green flag has dropped, the race is on. I think the Cisco/EMC offering will hit a market sweet spot that demands a refined balance between cost, risk mitigation, and performance. EMC, with its partner ecosystem, can live out the tagline: “Cloud Transforms IT and Big Data Transforms Business”.

If you need to connect on this topic, please let me know, I’ll make sure you get to the appropriate owners in the ecosystem.