INSIGHT

Optimal Big Data Management

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Optimal Big Data Management

We now know why it is imperative for modern businesses to be omni-present and omni-potent. Our interest here is to know what it takes to do so, from the IT infrastructure of an ever-expanding business. Obviously, the number of machines, servers, databases, and people interacting with the business in one way or the other, grows many-fold.

Of course, the interactions themselves may not be fully valuable on their own; but, in the way the interactions have taken place – traversed and ended, lies data that can shed a lot of light on what all is happening through the various customer touch-points of a business.

The secret recipe for a bright future
Data, if managed optimally, can lead to precious insights being drawn that will likely help the business to understand its market better – both current as well as future- and serve it better. But this open secret is not a readymade recipe for success. Thus, effective data management isn’t only about storing large volumes of data but doing so in a structured and proactively consumable manner.

The expanding and diversifying nature of business, needless to say, necessitates having in place disparate, scalable, and flexible IT infrastructure to suit the respective type, quality, and the extent of business interaction with the customers. This means a lot of data flows in from multiple data sources, which could be a mixture of complex and unstructured data that doesn’t fit properly into tables.

The catalyst was brewing
So, it went on like this for quite some time. But in due course, Google, Yahoo! and, eventually, Apache‘s efforts lead to the advent of Hadoop. Hadoop opened up a world of possibilities for businesses with large chunks of data to work with.
However, since the huge volume of data is also likely to be scattered across multiple data sources – types and numbers of databases, it still remained a cumbersome job for businesses to delve sufficiently into the data points and, fruitfully use the information lying within them.

In all of this, the power and utility of Hadoop did not get diminished – it only remained not fully harnessed. Its capacity as the super-catalyst wasn’t questioned and, perhaps, can never be.

OPTIMAL BIG DATA MANAGEMENT

Data Ingestors / Transformers…came in to help

But the question and, hence, the problem of too much data from too many sources still persisted. IT infrastructures often seemed to have bitten more than they could chew.

So what was required was a data ingestion / transformation tool that would seamlessly integrate big-data (the huge amount of data resulting from the many transactions of customers with the business, through the various touch-points) with on-premises as well as on-cloud databases and data warehouses like Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, DB2, SAP HANA, etc.

How about integration with other databases?

The data ingestion or transformation tool should also be able to do a lot more such as integrating seamlessly with complex databases like SAP HANA, relational databases like Teradata, Netezza, and NoSQL databases like Mongo DB and Cassandra.

How about the extraction capabilities?
Yeah that one too. The tool should also have the capacity to extract table data from source database servers to HDFS, Hive, and HBase.

What else..?
If one asked the personnel behind running such huge and wide-spread IT infrastructures, one can easily get the following needs (not wants, mind you!):

  • It should also facilitate conditional data transfer of table content to Hadoop
  • Provide scheduler option for data transfer jobs
  • Allow for batch-wise execution of jobs on multiple databases
  • Should have the ability of capturing data changes
  • Of course, should allow for easy job status monitoring as well as terminating unwanted jobs.

Yeah keep ‘em coming

The data ingestion or transformation tool could further facilitate for near-line storage, cold data archiving, tiered storage, and creation of a data lake.

Why all these?

  • Firstly, to bring data into Hadoop HDFS and Hive so that Hadoop can be used as near-line storage.
  • Then, to be able to bring any cold data into Hadoop HDFS and Hive where it can be archived and used for undertaking analytical purposes.
  • Also, so that Hadoop HDFS can be used for tiered storage by using the tool to bring data in to HDFS.
  • And finally, the data ingestion or transformation tool – by connecting to several data sources and bringing the data into Hadoop HDFS and Hive- should facilitate the creation of a data lake with the data from multiple sources.

So, are there any such tools or offerings that measure up to these requirements?

Frankly, very few; and not all of them live up to the expectations or demands of optimal big data management and utilization. There is, however, our product called HCube, which promises to meet most of these requirements. So, all those interested folks looking to address the above requirements may well explore HCube, and let them know if it is indeed an effective tool for achieving optimal data management and accelerated analytics.

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The SAP FIORI Experience

SAP FIORI

In an increasingly technology-enabled business world, it is imperative that businesses keep all their infrastructure upto speed and relevant to all its functions. The same applies to enterprise resource planning solutions. Working with ERP differs in its application for every level of organizational hierarchy – be it employee, manager, or the sales and purchase representatives, etc. While the management may look at it from a wider perspective, the various levels under it, requiring to use the same in day-to-day work, will have varied uses of it.

Further, the advent of several form-factors such as mobile and tablet devices as extensions of work-place, over and above the traditional desktop computers, has made it a must for one and all to stay connected so as to maintain the pace of work going.

But that being said, hereto there were few options for SAP users to keep that work-connect going across all devices. Even with the ones that were there, there were limited options. The need to work in the same environment, with the same user interface across all devices – be it telephone, a tablet or a desk-top computer – required to be addressed in a holistic manner. In other words, the same look
and feel across all form-factors needed to be retained, it needed to be easy-to-use and essentially, it should be done, as SAP says, keeping simple things simple!

The introduction of a new UX…

The advent of SAP FIORI, the all new user experience from the ERP pioneer’s stable, brings in new propositions to the core functions, and changes the whole paradigm of using it. Extending the SAP enterprise apps to mobile and tablet devices is now a
piece-of-cake – well, almost.

Just how cool is it?

Same environment, on everything (device)…

It makes a difference in terms of customization so as to suit one’s preferences and specific requirements. But that is one part of the story. What’s more critical is it’s enablement of letting users work in the same environment regardless of the device(s) used. And that is the most stand-out feature, as now there will be no lags in work-flow owing to the limitations that existed earlier.

Encompasses three major functional areas

There are three types of FIORI apps that make SAP functioning a lot smoother than ever before.
There are the transactional apps (25 of them were there when it was introduced) that can be used to perform SAP transactions such as creating a leave of absence request, approving a purchase order, etc., seamlessly on either a telephone or a tablet or the desk-top computer.

The fact-sheet app helps in viewing various business objects in SAP like a central purchase contract, allowing users to drill-down to related entities such as a vendor contract and the items under it, and even the terms & conditions of the same.

The third and final type of apps is for analytics purpose – to get role-based insight into
operations in real-time. Certainly makes life easy, isn’t it?

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Where’s the difference?

The two most critical functions greatly helped by SAP FIORI are employee self-service and, the work-flow. You can know more about how it actually helps in those two day-to-day functions from the video below (by SAP).

Benefits of SAP FIORI

Since one would want to look at any innovation as to how it affects the entire SAP ecosystem from an IT as well as business purview, it would be well worth to explore what all is affected.

The primary players or entities being the end-users (employee, manager, MIS, sales &purchase representatives), and the business itself.

For any type of user, what it offers is:

  • Simple User Interface (UI) employing the most modern design principles.
  • A very handy catalogue (finance, timesheets, etc.)
  • Responsive – can be accessed from any device (smartphone, tablet, etc.)
  • Very interactive as well as smart as it captures the end-user preferences so as to make it easy for subsequent use
  • User-friendly and, easy to understand and work with.

From a business point-of-view, SAP FIORI

  • Entails very little cost of training & shows a logged-in user only those applications that s/he needs to use.
  • Enables better strategies
  • Improves operational efficiency
  • Upto speed with the latest technical innovations (showing the client in good light)
  • Secure
  • The collection of light-weight, point-to-point SAP apps enables absolutely quick implementation
  • Comes free with the standard SAP licence – so you don’t have to pay extra to experience the whole stack of applications in whole new way

As with any new offering, there are a few constraints as well:

  • There are some prerequisites (SAP NetWeaver Gateway, SAP UI5 for NetWeaver, Appropriate SAP NetWeaver Patches, SAP Application Patches and Enhancement Packs)
  • SAP FIORI’s apps are web apps, only available with connectivity to the internet. There is presently no offline support capability
  • Presently, there is also no support for hybrid or native apps
  • No “middleware” engine, or layer for user or app management, etc., is provided. There is only point-to-point integration between apps and devices, and the SAP back-end system
  • Requires SAP Gateway  
  • No option of building custom-apps

There are two ways of looking at the above constraints:

1. Perhaps SAP may not want to give away too much for people to tweak and, in the process, render SAP FIORI completely different from what it had envisaged.

2. Obviously, it has done the UI and UX over-haul or renovation (call it what you want) with the intension of retaining its customer base intact by improving their experiences but with some riders. So be it – who doesn’t do that.

The company, in time, may still come out with versions that will overcome some or all of these minor limitations. And the same may just be the best compared to any pretender (if at all) since it would come from the creator of the original platform – so they know best. Wouldn’t they?

In conclusion, one can only say that of if you have been a SAP loyal (or for that matter, even if you are an new adopter) and you are looking to extend common business functions to mobile devices and tablets (at the snap of a finger), then SAP Fiori is the option for you that enables seamless integration (into SAP systems).

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