There are two words that that data industry loves to use today: complexity and simplification. The latter is obviously intended to counter the former… and the ultimate objective is the Holy Grail of Data Nirvana (HGDN) i.e. a so-called ‘single source’ of data where firms can look at every aspect of their business on one software platform.

This is the rationale that SAP is currently keeping at front of mind as it develops what it likes to call its data warehouse application SAP BW/4HANA.

As Forbes has previously reported, businesses have customer data spread across an average of 15 different systems according to analyst house Forrester. As firms now try to perform the already hackneyed and over-talked process of ‘business transformation’ to become a real time digital enterprise, this ‘multifarious variety’ aspect of data becomes a real issue.

The Data Supermarket

SAP’s Stefan Sigg hosted a virtual press conference this week in his capacity as senior VP and head of analytics development to explain what’s happening today. The variety of data types is almost as baffling as the number of products available in a modern supermarket.

“SAP BW/4HANA has been engineered as a means of eliminating all the things that users could do wrong i.e. this is about streamlining and simplification. We have created Industry- and Line of Business (LoB) specific modules so that customers can get a jump-start into deployment. Going forward it’s about using even deeper algorithms and logic from inside the SAP HANA system … all this happens because the number of heterogeneous sources of data in any business has now become so vast,” said Sigg.

How many types of data are there?

When SAP talks about the variety of data out there, the firm is alluding to SAP data, non-SAP data, relational database data, non-relational database data, structured data, unstructured and semi-structured data, historical data, new types of sensor data in the Internet of Things plus live streaming and time-series sensor data… hot data which is accessed frequently, cold historical data and all this data is highly distributed so it could be located anywhere on the planet.

Irfan Khan, head of database and data management at SAP also spoke to explain how the firm has worked to ‘galvanize’ its technology to now ferment (and ultimately pour) a set of solutions forward to help firms build more credible modern data warehouse that can actually cope with the new masses of data out there.

Looking at the firm’s product news, to answer the demand for open highly scalable IT systems, SAP says that BW/4HANA will provide an open data warehousing environment for application development and multi-temperature data handling. The product will also support cloud-ready offerings including AWS and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, with other third-party cloud platforms expected to follow.

The future of data

SAP is positioning BW/4HANA as a means of being able to operate a data warehouse that will significantly reduce data movement and duplication by analyzing data wherever it resides.

The BW in SAP BW/4HANA stands for Business Warehouse, but most of the talk here centers on the data warehouse, but that proximity is intentional — soon it will all be one word anyway, probably BusinessDataWareHouse, or just BDWH.

“The digitization of business requires a modern approach to data management, data processing and analytics that can handle any data source and type in real time,” said Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board, products & innovation, SAP SE. “With SAP BW/4HANA and our collaboration with AWS, the leading cloud infrastructure provider, we are providing customers with an easy-to-consume next-generation data warehouse platform that will further accelerate their journey toward becoming a live digital business.”

The future for firms like SAP operating in this space gravitates around the need to reinforce that ‘single source of data’ message and the expression ‘end-to-end’ will be slapped right in there too i.e. it’s all about the journey from the mobile device to the cloud… into the analytics engine… and back again.

As for the data supermarket, there’s a special this week on ‘algorithm pushdown’ so you can expect more analytics in more places, done faster across multi-temperature data.

It’s low fat too, probably.

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