When it comes to data management, SAP has been pursuing a dual strategy anchored around the SAP HANA in-memory computing database and SAP Vora, an instance of Hadoop and the Apache Spark in-memory computing framework. At the Strata + Hadoop World 2017 conference today, SAP made it clear that both platforms are now equal citizens within the context of the company’s application development strategy.
Ken Tsai, vice president and head of cloud platform data management for SAP, says the latest version of SAP Vora unveiled at the conference represents a four to five times improvement in terms of functionality. New features include a time-series distributed in-memory engine as well as a graph distributed engine and an in-memory JSON document store. Also included is support for Kerberos authentication, distributed transaction log for metadata persistence, and currency conversion.
SAP also announced it will make SAP Vora available as a managed cloud service via the platform it gained when it acquired Altiscale last year.
In general, SAP has up until now viewed Hadoop and Spark as just another source of data for HANA. But with this release, Tsai says, SAP Vora and SAP HANA are now equal citizens in terms of SAP research and development. A big reason for that shift, says Tsai, is the recognition that Big Data will soon be distributed everywhere. Instead of moving data around the enterprise, IT organizations want to be able to process and analyze data as close as possible to the point where it was created. For that reason, Tsai says, SAP has been pursuing cloud alliances with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and now Google, along with hosting instances of HANA and Vora in the cloud on its own.
“Big Data will happen everywhere,” says Tsai.
In some cases, that data will be processed on HANA. But it’s just as likely that data will be processed on an instance of Hadoop/Spark.
Like many database vendors, SAP is simply coming to terms with the fact that Hadoop has emerged as a major enterprise platform. Treating Hadoop as a second-class citizen to HANA would only serve to marginalize SAP. Now regardless of which direction the forces of data gravity tug, SAP maintains the opportunity to remain relevant.