You are on page 1of 7

Choosing the right Big Data platform

for SAP environments

Enterprises using or planning to use SAP applications and databases are beginning to
visualizeand, in many cases, to actualizethe dramatic ways in which Big Data analytics
can have a positive impact on business operations. Organizations are leveraging new
insights, pulled together from a wide range of disparate sources, to more accurately
understand customer behavior and engage them in real time to maximize profitability.
Heres a real-world example: The University of Kentucky is using a Big Data solution
incorporating an in-memory database to significantly improve retention and graduation
rates, potentially saving the university millions of dollars. The solution extracts data from
seven of the universitys systems and analyzes the information in memory.
The speed of the in-memory solution has been an eye-opener. The first time you query
a 45-million-row table, join it with five other sources, and get a response back in less than
a second, as a data geek, you kind of giggle a bit, says Stephen Burr, advanced analytics
lead at the university.
Dell developed the system in collaboration with Intel and built it on the SAP HANA inmemory database appliance. The solution provides the university with the ability to quickly
identify at-risk students; tailor courses to match the unique needs of students; improve
retention and graduation rates; and enable students to be more successful through
personalized guidance.
The cycle time between question and answer has moved from weeks to seconds with
the help of the Dell SAP HANA solution, says Vince Kellen, senior vice provost, academic
planning, analytics and technologies. Burr adds: Every 1% increase in student retention we
predict leads to an additional million dollars in revenue.

Why Big Data, why now?

Because of results such as this, Big Data is taking its place as one of the transformative
technologies in todays computing paradigm. IDC has characterized Big Data analytics
as one of the four pillars of a new era in computing, along with mobile computing, social
networking and cloud services. The combination of these technologies will account for 80%
of growth in IT spending between now and the end of the decade.1 McKinsey & Co. has
characterized Big Data as, the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity.2
What are some of the key factors driving this seismic shift?
Data proliferation: The volume of data growth is staggering. The amount of data being
generated every 10 minutes today is equal to the amount of data created from the
beginning of recorded history until the year 2003.3 Approximately 90% of todays data
is of the unstructured type.4 Big Data analytics provides organizations in all industries
with the opportunity to harness that data and turn it into useful, actionable and highly
valuable information and insight.
Increased mobility: Along with the proliferation of data, the availability of nearubiquitous mobility is creating big opportunities not only in the creation of data,
but also in the ability of organizations to respond in real time to information they
have gathered and analyzed. For many consumers and workers, mobile devices
are becoming the primary tool for connectivity. In addition, many more machineto-machine interactions are being driven by mobility. Organizations that can tap
into these mobile sources and deliver actionable information are seeing significant
advantages in productivity, competitive positioning, responsiveness, agility
and profitability.
Advanced technologies: Innovative vendors such as Dell, Intel and SAP have worked
together to ensure that the technologies to enable Big Data analytics are available
and affordable. As just one example, the development of in-memory databases,
particularly the SAP HANA platform, is one of the important driving forces in enabling
Big Data analytics. Gathering massive amounts of data from disparate sources
and analyzing it in real time requires levels of speed and performance that legacy
databases and memory systems simply cant deliver. It should be no surprise that the
companies identified as best in class in deploying data analytics technologies are
twice as likely to use in-memory computing technology as other companies.5
Business opportunities: None of this investment in Big Data would take place, of
course, if it werent driving significant opportunities for businesses to innovate the
ways in which they operate and interact with employees, customers, partners and
others. Here is a sample of some of the opportunities predicted for Big Data, based on
a report from McKinsey6:
o A 60% increase in operating margins for retailers.
o $300 billion in annual value to the healthcare system in the U.S. alone.

IDC Predicts 2012 Will Be The Year of Mobile and Cloud Wars as IT Vendors Vie For Leadership While the Industry Redefines Itself,
IDC, Dec. 1, 2011
Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity, McKinsey & Co., May 2011
Big Data or Too Much Information? Smithsonian, May 7, 2012
Extracting Value from Chaos, IDC, June 2011
Big Data For Marketing: Targeting Success, Aberdeen Group, January 2013
Ibid, Footnote #2

o $600 billion in annual consumer surplus from using personal location

data globally.
o 250 billion in potential annual value to Europes public-sector administration.

Harnessing the power of in-memory solutions and Hadoop

As seen in the University of Kentucky use case, one of the keys to the successful deployment
of Big Data analytics in SAP environments is the use of the SAP HANA in-memory data
platform. SAP HANA dramatically increases processing speed, empowering businesses with
real-time insight and analytics. In addition, the SAP HANA platform supports the Apache
Hadoop open source framework, which is important in organizing and collecting the massive
amounts of unstructured data that are central to the emerging Big Data paradigm.
SAP HANA helps businesses address one of the critical aspects of Big Data, which is fast
access toand real-time analytics ofvery large data sets. This allows decision makers to
understand their business at the speed of thought. When used with Hadoop, SAP HANA can
combine, analyze and process all of the data a business has, providing deeper insight into
customer behavior and opening up new business opportunities.
IT decision makers involved in building solutions incorporating SAP HANA and Hadoop
should recognize the differences between these technologies to understand how, where and
why they complement one another. Hadoop uses commodity servers to handle data in the
petabyte and, potentially, the exabyte range, which is much higher than the 100 terabytes
(TB)-or-less range that SAP HANA and conventional relational database management systems
(RDBMS) handle.
Current versions of Hadoop are significantly slower than SAP HANA, or even conventional
RDBMS, taking minutes or hours to provide analytic results. That means that Hadoop, unlike
SAP HANA, will not allow you to understand your business at the speed of thought. Hadoop
does, however, allow you to store and access more voluminous and detailed data at a lower
cost. The net result is that by putting SAP HANA and Hadoop together you can maximize the
most powerful characteristics of each platform to handle really Big Data really fast.
Maximizing the potential of SAP HANA and Hadoop for Big Data analytics also means
choosing the platform that will be most effective and cost-efficient for your organization.
In addition to the costs of hardware and software, decision makers must take into account
development tools; the operational costs associated with meeting service levels; and how the
solution will fulfill policies concerning security, high availability, secure backup and recovery.

Advantages of the x86 platform for SAP Big Data environments

SAP is typically the touch point for customer interactions and activities; therefore, for any
organization using or planning to use SAP, it often represents the front line in the journey
to Big Data success. And if SAP is the pathway to Big Data for your organization, one of the
most important considerations is in building your solution on the hardware platform that will
deliver the best performance, the most efficient price point and the most readily scalable
architecture for future growth and long-term business opportunities.
The x86 platform offers significant benefits for organizations hoping to make the most
out of the opportunities afforded them by Big Data in SAP environments. This, of course,
applies to organizations already utilizing the x86 platform for SAP, as well as to organizations

just starting out with SAP. In addition, organizations with aging legacy Unix environments
can easily and cost-efficiently transition to modern, x86 environmentswith no impact
on applications availability or performancethrough solutions such as Dell ZeroIMPACT
Migration Services for SAP.
The following are some of the key advantages of an x86 environment:
Lower total cost of ownership: An open x86-based infrastructure and open source
operating system such as Linux will result in reduced capital investment in hardware
compared with legacy Unix environments, and will enable significant additional
savings for systems maintenance, software licensing, staffing and energy usage. By
utilizing integrated solutions from Dell and Intel, organizations can maximize their
savings. An integrated solution comprising high-performance servers and software
with a market-leading database can reduce total cost of ownership by 50% or more
for SAP Business Suite customers.
Better performance: Price is clearly a major part of the equation, but so is
performance. Linux systems built on the x86 architecture now outperform Unix when
it comes to mission-critical applications.7 That is one of the reasons why analysts
project that 65% of applications that were running on proprietary versions of Unix
in 2012 will have migrated to x86 by 2017.8 The gap between x86 performance and
Unix performance is becoming more pronounced in favor of the x86 environment
as Intel continues to innovate. For instance, the Xeon Processor E7 product families
offer breakthroughs in memory, performance and reliability, which will be described in
more detail below.
Availability of SAP HANA: The SAP HANA in-memory database is the linchpin of
SAPs strategy in the Big Data market. The performance gains enabled by in-memory
computing are critical in empowering organizations to analyze Big Data in real time
and create actionable events using that insight. For any SAP customer pondering
deploying the power of real-time, predictive Big Data analytics, SAP HANA will be key:
This means that the customer must build the solution on an x86 platform because
SAP HANA is only available on the x86 platform using Linux.
Support for Hadoop: Another Big Data capability enabled by SAP HANA is the
availability of Hadoop. SAP supports integration with Hadoop in several ways,
including the SAP HANA smart data access capability; SAP IQ native MapReduce API;
SAP Data Services Hadoop connector; and SAP BusinessObjects BI universes. Hadoop
enables organizations to store massive amounts of unstructured data, which, when
used in combination with SAP HANA, can deliver real-time analysis and insight.

Advantages of Dell Big Data solutions in SAP environments

While it may be clear that x86 should be the platform of choice for Big Data in SAP
environments, IT decision makers should also recognize that not all x86-based solutions
are created equal. Enterprise IT decision makers will see clear advantages in using the Dell
Integrated x86/ Linux solution builton the latest generation of Intel processors and including
support for Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop.

SAP on Linux, Realtech, Oct. 31, 2013

The Future of Unix: Hazy and Overcast, So Reach for the Umbrella, Gartner, April 20, 2012

Working with integrated Dell and Intel technologies

will provide significant benefits in price/performance,
modular scalability, availability and increased agilityall
enabled by technology solutions designed from the
groundup to meet the shifting demands of modern data
center environments.
Most organizations are at the early stages of their
Big Data initiatives and will need simple scalability as
requirements grow. In addition, the proliferation of
data, both structured and unstructured, is continuing
exponentially, creating ongoing challengesand
opportunitiesin enabling Big Data analytics to support
additional applications.
One of the key advantages of the Dell approach is
the use of a modular, scalable architecture for SAP
HANA. Working closely with SAP, Dell offers a series of
optimally configured SAP HANA solutions that consist
of a hardware appliance along with pre-loaded software
and a full range of services, including assessment,
implementation, management, data modeling and usecase assistance.
Dell PowerEdge Servers are the foundational platform
for the Dell Solution for SAP HANA and are used
consistently across all configurations. Because there are
multiple configurations, customers can select a solution
that is right-sized for each data analysis environment,
knowing that they wont have to rip and replace their
existing solutions as their needs grow. By using modular
scalability as a primary design construct, Dell delivers
a solution that grows seamlessly, without requiring
a hardware change when expansion is required, and
without affecting the performance or availability of the
existing system.
In addition to an innovative modular, scalable
architecture, Dells latest serversbuilt on the latest
generation of Intel processorsdeliver immense scalable
memory capacity that make them perfectly suited for the
capacity and performance demands of next-generation,
Big-Data applications (see sidebar, Servers That Deliver
on the Performance of Big Data).
Finally, Dell offers customers a full portfolio of endto-end solutions and services in support of SAP HANA
applications and Big Data in general through offerings
such as Business Intelligence and Analytics Services.
Services complement one another, including assessment,
implementation, management, data modeling and use-

Servers that deliver on the performance

challenges of Big Data
As enterprises seek to take advantage of
the business opportunities afforded by Big
Data, they are realizing that some of their
legacy hardware is simply not up to the
task. Older servers and storage solutions
will often lack the capacity, speed and
throughput required for todays most
demanding applications. While much of
the hardware can be repurposed for other
applications, it is important to make sure
that the solutions targeted for Big Data
take advantage of the state-of-the-art
technology innovations available today
from Dell and Intel.
Leading the way in servers for Big Data is
the Dell PowerEdge R920, which has an
immense scalable memory capacity of
up to 96 dual in-line memory modules,
providing up to 6TB of RAM capacity.
This makes it particularly well suited
for a modern data center with Big Data
applications built on high-performance,
in-memory databases such as SAP HANA.
Additionally, the Dell PowerEdge R920
supports up to four 15-core processors to
accelerate application performance and
data access.
The Dell PowerEdge R920 supports up to
24 internal storage drives, including up to
8 PowerEdge Express flash drives. Using
flash drives with Dell Fluid Cache datacaching technology enables data centers
to accelerate the storage and retrieval of
data that is centrally maintained on storage
area networks.
Bolstering the performance of the
Dell PowerEdge R920 for Big Data
environments are the latest advances
in Intel processor technologies. The
server supports up to four processors
from the Intel Xeon processor E7-4800
v2 product family. These processors
deliver a combination of high-performing
computing threads; hardware-based
advanced reliability features; and large
memory, cache and bandwidth capacity,
leading to exceptional levels of scalability,
application performance and uptime.

case assistance. For SAP HANA, customers can participate in workshops that develop use
case and business case justifications, and can take advantage of services such as proof of
concept, modernization, business intelligence consulting and support.

How Dell and Intel support Big Data in a modern data center environment
Another advantage of the x86 platformparticularly as delivered by Dell and Intelis
the opportunity to build your SAP Big Data solution within an environment that has been
designed to address the needs of todays data centers. What are some of the characteristics
of a modern data center? They include:
A hardware infrastructure that supports the need for increased speed, performance
and capacity.
An infrastructure that is open and standards-based to enable cost efficiencies and
enterprise-wide integration.
A simple-to-scale, simple-to-manage architecture that supports growing business
needs for flexibility and agility.
A data center environment that offers the highest levels of resiliency, reliability
and high availability to maximize the performance of applications, while
eliminating downtime.
The requirements of applications are constantly changing, as organizations embrace
initiatives such as cloud computing, mobility and Big Data. As a result, Dell and Intel are both
committed to expanding the capabilities of their solutions to meet changing requirements
for speed, capacity, agility and manageability.
For example, the Intel Xeon Processor E7 8800/4800/2800 v2 product families set new
standards in a variety of areas that will help to deliver improvements in the performance of
Big Data analytics. Using the latest Intel processors, systems are capable of delivering 6 TB
of RAM in a 4-socket server. These huge amounts of memory can support local processing
capabilities in an in-memory database, such as SAP HANA. In addition to breakthrough
capacity, these new solutions deliver performance improvements that double the throughput
of previous processors, provide up to 50% more cores/threads and deliver up to 25%
more cache.
Its not just the processing speed and power that are critical to the success of Big Data SAP
initiatives. Other solutions from Intel and Dell include: Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop,
which is the infinite store for Big Data and integration with SAP HANA for real-time analysis;
and Dell Active Infrastructure, which enables organizations to expand their use of Big Data
analytics without having to change architectures. Dell Active Infrastructure supports future
growth because it has been designed to support additional applications as they are released
by SAP.

Learning from successful use cases

While a lot of the discussion about Big Data is focused on future potential, many
organizations are already successfully deploying Big Data analytics in SAP environments to

deliver significant business benefits. The previously mentioned case study on the University of
Kentucky is a prime example.
Another compelling use case is provided by Dell SingleScore for Talent Management, which
combines Big Data analytics, social media and mobility to provide a wide range of actionable
business intelligence that can, among other things, help employers identify, motivate and
retain key employees.
Employee turnover is a challenge for every business. According to one survey, the cost
of replacing an employee making a salary of less than $50,000 amounts to 20% of the
employees annual salary. The cost of replacing an executive is more than 200% of the
executives annual salary.9
The Dell SingleScore Solution uses a variety of technologies, including SAP HANA, Dell
Kitenga for Big Data analysis on Hadoop, and Dell Boomi integration to deliver actionable
insight from information gathered from structured data from business systems and
unstructured data from social media. It provides real-time continuous feedback to
employees, managers and executives on employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction,
worker productivity, training requirements and a variety of other factors.

Big Data is here, its now and its the future. For organizations already taking advantage of the
benefits of SAP applications and databases, Big Data is the next logical step in transforming
data into real-time, actionable insight. Companies moving forward are already achieving
significant competitive advantage.
Putting in place the right foundation for Big Data is critical. Investing in a breakthrough
new solution but building it on a dated, legacy hardware platform doesnt make sense. The
benefits of building SAP Big Data solutions on an x86 platform are clear: Better performance,
lower total cost of ownership, improved agility, simpler scalability and the availability of the
SAP HANA in-memory platform.
Dell and Intel have worked closely together, and with SAP, to provide technology solutions
optimized to deliver industry-leading Big Data solutions on the x86 platform. Integrated
Dell and Intel solutions provide leadership and innovation in price/performance, modular
scalability, simplified migrations, reliability and availability.
If youre ready to put Big Data to use in your SAP environment, here is how to get started:

How much does it cost companies to lose employees? CBS News, Nov. 21, 2012