SAP HANA Helps Build Modern Applications that Combine Core Business Data with External Data

Jordan Cao

Posted by Jordan Cao on July 13, 2015

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In previous blogs, I discussed the importance of learning from others’ innovations before starting your own project and have also introduced the benefits you experience when you develop on the SAP HANA platform. Starting with this blog, I would like to cover typical use cases that are developed on SAP HANA. When you look at these cases, it is important to understand that SAP HANA is an in-memory data platform.  As such, the first question you might want answered is: “what kind of data does this application deal with?” In looking through the typical use cases for SAP HANA applications, I found that integrating data from different sources brings many businesses innovations.

This is not surprising. If you combine core business data with external business data – such as macro economic data, external supplier data, traffic data, or weather data – you might be able to find new patterns or determine your next action more accurately, improving the way your business operates. When you develop applications on SAP HANA platform, it is much easier to connect core business data with any other data.  There are four major reasons for this assertion:

A. It is easier to connect new data with SAP ERP data:  SAP HANA Live (get more information from this blog and here) allows you to access a comprehensive set of predefined data models across SAP Business Suite data.  You can customize these models by extending them to include new data and business logic.  Additionally, these models are intuitive to use and your business users can leverage them in a self-service manner. This simplifies application development because it allows developers to easily collaborate with their business counterparts.

Moreover, SAP HANA Live can either run on the same server as SAP Business Suite or deploy on a side-car configuration. In either case, users gain an unified view of real-time operational transactions, effectively enhancing their visibility and understanding of ongoing business activities.

B. It is faster to process different data types transparently within one application: SAP HANA processes data much faster than traditional data platforms because it fully leverages hardware breakthrough technology and avoids I/O bottleneck by managing data in memory. As a result, it can process different and complex data types, such as unstructured, graph, and spatial data, together in real-time, without requiring caching, materialized views or overbearing indexes.

C. It effectively combines OLAP and OLTP in the same application in real-time:  SAP HANA allows developers to effectively combine OLAP and OLTP workloads in the same application, so that users can accomplish related tasks in context, through one single interface. To make this possible, SAP HANA fully leverages multi-core technologies (find more details in this SIGMOD paper and this IDC white paper).   Moreover, since data can be processed faster in SAP HANA, applications that combine complex advanced analytics with OLTP always deliver real-time performance, without requiring specialized data structures or indexes.

D. It automatically delivers a single source of truth for real-time insights: SAP HANA can act as a single data source to deliver one version of the truth to different applications. This means the data virtualization capabilities in SAP HANA allow different applications to access a single data source for different purposes without requiring pre-aggregation.  These virtualization capabilities also support data federation, data integration and complex event processing/streaming.

Let’s look at the Lockheed Martin Case, one of this year’s innovation award submissions. This application, which is built on SAP HANA, connects data from a variety of data sources with core SAP ERP data.  As you may know, Lockheed Martin produces cutting-edge technologies, such as satellites or aircrafts, which are extremely expensive to built.  To reduce the production costs, it is critical to procure components from different suppliers within a very specific time window.  The more accurate the time window estimation, the lower the cost of a project is.  For this application, Lockheed Martin has used SAP HANA predictive analytic engine to improve the accuracy of its lead time estimations for supplied components. The predictive engine parses through countless details provided by 3rd party suppliers on thousands of orders managed in the SAP ERP system.  This application also takes advantage of the speed of in-memory technology, the embedded predictive algorithm library (PAL), and HANA integration with R server to achieve the goal of an 80% probability rates in lead-time prediction. Read more here.

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