SAP shares HANA, Data Warehouse Cloud announcements, year-end plans

SAP is using its annual Tech Ed event for a flurry of announcements. Data and analytics may not take center stage, but they are always important, and we attempt to roll up relevant announcements in this post.
Written by Andrew Brust, Contributor

Today, on the first day of SAP's TechEd virtual event, the Walldorf, Germany-based enterprise software company is making a slew of announcements, including some in the data realm. As a bonus, the company also shared some its end-of-year plans for SAP HANA Cloud with ZDNet. This post provides a summary of the announcements and plans.

Go with the (data) flow

Whether for moving data into a data warehouse, enriching data for analysis or preparing data sets for training machine learning models, data preparation and transformation is super-important. Building out data pipelines can be a tedious and, in the more purist data engineering realm, can be code-intensive too. But in the worlds of ERP, supply chain management, human capital management (HCM) and other business domains where SAP software roams, building data pipelines is a constant requirement.

Perhaps with that in mind, then, SAP is bringing to general availability its new Data Flow Builder as an addition to SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and as a standalone offering. Data Flow Builder makes it possible to build data pipelines bringing together both SAP and non-SAP data. Pipelines are developed visually, in a no-code/low-code fashion. Meanwhile, it's also a "no cliff" offering, allowing data engineers and others to augment visual pipelines with Python 3-based scripting if desired, and when needed.

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Data Flow Builder GA'd (i.e. was made generally available) about a month ago, but SAP is using TechEd as a launch and awareness vehicle for the new offering.

All business

Sometimes readying data for analytics involves modeling it correctly. To that end, the SAP Business Technology Platform makes it easier to share data across SAP applications by providing a common data model for all business objects, called the SAP One Domain Model. For now, support is there for the HCM-related end-to-end business process Recruit-to-Retire. The company says support for more business processes will follow.

Developers can access the model via the SAP Graph beta offering or SAP API Business Hub, the latter of which now has a revamped user experience that will be available as a beta shipment by the end of 2020. SAP says the new UX makes it easier to identify relevant integration APIs and events, integration packs, and documentation.

HANA goes hybrid, and more

It's hard to believe that SAP HANA is now a decade old. As such, it has become a mainstream platform at a great many SAP customer sites. Those customers are exactly the ones who have some assets on-premises, even as they move more workloads to the cloud. Perhaps with that in mind, SAP is announcing new hybrid capabilities for SAP HANA Cloud, allowing the service to manage a combination of on-premises and multi-cloud SAP workloads, and to augment/offload on-prem workloads with/to cloud-based resources, when the extra capacity is required. HANA cloud can also integrate both SAP and non-SAP data sources, through a combination of data replication and virtualization.

Also read: SAP readies bevy of HANA Cloud Services

Certainly, this has been a big year for hybrid and multi-cloud architectures. But that's not the only area of customer requirements that SAP is targeting for HANA Cloud in 2020. Before the year is out, a number of capabilities are planned or expected to be added to the platform, including: the availability of SAP HANA Cloud on Alibaba Cloud; addition of Business Application Studio for the Cloud; the addition of on-prem HANA's enhanced replication tooling support to SAP HANA Cloud; a new embedded JSON document store; ESRI ArcGIS geodatabase certification; configurable storage provisioning for SAP HANA native storage extension; and self-service resizing of the storage allocation for native storage extension.

Free as in bier

As a virtual event, TechEd is free this year, and has a record 60,000 registrations to show for it. In a briefing with ZDNet, SAP CTO Juergen Mueller explained the company is considering extending the online format and free admission even beyond the Coronavirus pandemic. Mueller explained this is part of formal policy and credo to make education around SAP technology free.

In keeping with that, the company is working on offering a free tier of the Business Technology Platform -- which includes Cloud Platform services, HANA Cloud and Data Warehouse Cloud -- as well. Until the free tier is fully implemented, a generous one-year free trial is available.

Follow a Leader

I've been writing about SAP data offerings on this blog for the better part of the last decade. While many may see SAP data solutions as primarily appealing to SAP enterprise software customers, the fact remains that's a huge market, filled with some of the world's largest companies. No matter how you cut it, SAP is a major database and analytics force, on-premises and in multiple clouds.

Also read: SAP HANA does Big Data...with ERP, CRM and BI savvy

In that spirit, the company is highlighting their inclusion in the leaders quadrant in the recently-published Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems, a brand new Magic Quadrant report from the tech research juggernaut. Granted, SAP is behind Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle (the other three companies in the "MISO" cohort), as well as Google and Amazon Web Services. But it's ahead of various other well-respected companies, including Snowflake, Databricks and Cloudera.

SAP's platform is at the very nexus of enterprise business, operations and technology. Especially in the era of digital transformation, that makes SAP a data company. The moral of the story: disregard SAP's data and analytics business at your peril. 

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