- SAP made amazing claims around Vora, which connects HANA to Hadoop.
- We analyze how accurate SAP has been on Vora.
SAP has been proposing HANA for a new purpose, namely to serve as the database for the customer’s SAP Big Data.
See our references for this article and related articles at this link.
Is HANA a right choice for Big Data? That is it time for SAP Big Data? In this article, we analyze the accuracy of SAP’s Vora product page.
SAP’s Vora Quotes
“SAP Vora is an in-memory, distributed computing solution that helps organizations uncover actionable business insights from Big Data. Use it to run enriched, interactive analytics on both enterprise and Hadoop data, quickly and easily.”
Vora is designed for this purpose. Vora is essentially a connector between HANA and Hadoop.
“SAP Vora enables businesses to analyze all data on a distributed computing framework to readily deliver insights or applications that meet business needs. Use it to generate actionable insights from vast amounts of distributed data at the speed of business to drive innovation and competitive advantage.”
Yes, this describes what Vora does.
“Actionable insights from Big Data: Make decisions in near real time based on your entire set of data, even if it comes in different formats and from diverse sources.”
Decisions do not need to be made in real time. Almost no decisions are. It is rare for companies to use HANA, or other in memory databases to connect them to Hadoop, as other factors are simply more important than what SAP proposes is essential. Secondly, SAP is not well established in the Big Data space, so their views on the topic mean considerably less than companies that are better established as Big Data vendors.
- “Simplified IT landscape: Reduce the complexity of working with Big Data using a single, unified platform with a simple-to-use Web interface that works for any use case.”
HANA and Vora do not simplify the IT landscape. Simplification has been a common trope used by SAP, but HANA is a complex and high maintenance database.
- “Self-service Big Data computing: SAP Vora lets everyone from business analysts and data scientists to engineers and developers use familiar tools and programming languages to analyze huge amounts of data, quickly and efficiently.”
HANA is not a self-service database. This is entirely misleading. And SAP offers no differentiation regarding programming languages that any other vendors do not provide.
- SQL access to time series, graph, and JSON data
- Web interface with SQL editor, data browser, and drag-and-drop function
- Seamless integration with the SAP HANA platform – which enables bi-directional data exchange between SAP HANA and Hadoop
SAP often declares that its integration is seamless. But other solutions offered by competitors have far more installs than does HANA or Vora. Therefore, they are far less risky.
Vora is based on Apache Spark, but is far less used than Apache Spark, and is far more expensive in both software cost as well as consulting cost.
“Disk-to-memory accelerator – which assures high performance even when dataset sizes exceed memory capacity
Enterprise-grade data security”
There is nothing on this list that a more proven offering also has.
Extend the functionality of SAP Vora
- SAP HANA Platform – In-memory database and application platform
- SAP IQ – Logical Big Data warehousing (OLAP)
- SAP SQL Anywhere – For designing embedded database applications for mobile and remote environments
- SAP Data Services – All types of data integration
- SAP Lumira – Self-service data visualization for everyone
There is no such thing as a SAP HANA Platform. HANA is a database but it is not a database that is typically connected to Hadoop. SAP needs Hadoop, but no one outside of a controlled SAP customer would merely buy HANA to connect it to Hadoop. It just is not done.
SAP IQ is the old Sybase IQ, and it has difficulty in getting many sales. It is also not a “Big Data warehouse,” whatever that is. It is similar in design to HANA, although SAP primarily positions it as an archival system for HANA.
SAP SQL Anywhere could be used, but other alternatives are more prominent, and they are free.
SAP Data Services is a lagging set of integration adapters. There is no reason to use it.
Lumira is modeled after Tableau, and if you do not focus on the backend, it is impressively easy to use. But Lumira has few customers.
Hasso Plattner on Connecting HANA to Other Databases
“SAP HANA allows the access of other databases, e.g., SAP HANA Vora or Hadoop, which helps to integrate with IoT scenarios, or data for weather, geography, statistical information, without copying the data into the ERP system. SAP just announced a host of innovations for SAP S/4 HANA in Barcelona, including the new logistics components, business planning and the reintegration of some sales management functions.”
Vora is a new SAP HANA related application that, at this point, very little is known about. SAP is communicating to its customers that it is up on the latest things but invoking Hadoop and IoT or the Internet of Things. Hadoop happens to be growing very rapidly, and Hadoop is a low-cost application. SAP HANA is a premium priced application. Therefore companies have Hadoop on the mind, and so Plattner is leveraging this fact as it is marketing SAP HANA.
Plattner uses the “HANA as part of a balanced breakfast” argument to sell SAP HANA. For those unfamiliar with this case, it is taken from breakfast cereal that, while unhealthy, can be said to be healthy if it is part of other things. That is, the item is not competing on its own merits but on the substance of what is connected to or used with. SAP HANA is not a worthy purchase because it can be attached to Vora or Hadoop or integrating into IoT. Any other database can connect to these things as well.
Let us discuss Hasso’s summary.
“SAP S/4 HANA is by far the best ERP system SAP has ever offered to the market. In combination with the new customer-facing applications like those from hybris, the SaaS applications from Success Factors, Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur and the Internet of Things projects with SAP HANA Vora,”
This quotation is mostly incorrect and is misleading. SAP is attempting to correlate their own competitive HANA product, with the highly successful Hadoop. Terms like SAP HANA Hadoop, Hadoop SAP, and SAP Hadoop sound interesting, but Hadoop does not need HANA to add its value. Also, contrary to what SAP proposes, HANA does not have anything to do with Hadoop. Any database can be connected to any other database. But Hadoop is a high-value database that is growing rapidly. HANA is the opposite.
Any database can be connected to any other database. But Hadoop is a high-value database that is growing rapidly. HANA is the opposite.
What Did Fortune Say About Vora?
On Sept 1, 2015, Fortune published an article titled A Look at HANA; SAP pitches Vora to bridge the big data gap.
In this article, we will evaluate the accuracy of this Fortune article.
Why the World Needs Vora
The world has been drowning in talk about big data, the massive troves of information churned out by sensors, engines, and other machinery. That information can be very useful to businesses but there’s been a divide between that often-formless data and the more structured, traditional data that resides in a company’s databases, inventory, or sales systems.
SAP (SAP, +0.70%) proposes to bridge that divide with Vora, an in-memory query processor that plugs into Spark, open-source software that developers and data scientists use to ask questions of all that data.
Apache Spark is open source (free) technology geared to speed up data queries of unstructured data, but the goal of Vora is to augment, not displace, Spark said Steve Lucas, president of SAP’s Platform Products Group. Vora, slated to ship this month, proposes to speed up queries to a company’s various “data lakes” he told Fortune.
What Fortune is not bringing up is that it is entirely unclear what the value is of Vora over Spark.
Secondly, HANA has a tiny footprint in Big Data. AWS, for instance, does not offer HANA as part of its Big Data offering. AWS offers Spark for in-memory caching and optimized execution. One can create Spark clusters from the AWS Management Console, but not Vora and not HANA. And it is not as if AWS does not offer HANA. But they don’t offer it as part of their Big Data offering. AWS does offer Vora, but not part of their primary AWS offering. Why?
How Common are HANA and Vora Discussed in Big Data Circles
Outside of SAP marketing and sales cycles, Vora and HANA are not discussed when it comes to Big Data.
Hadoop is an open source database that is a great value and has many tools that work exceptionally well without the proprietary and highly expensive HANA database.
A big part of the product’s appeal will be that it plugs into both Hadoop/Spark ecosystems and into transactional data sources, including SAP HANA. “We embracing Hadoop and Spark and bringing the online transaction processing world together with them,” Lucas said.
Lucas is known to provide inaccurate information on SAP, so his credibility is low due to this history. Lucas also knows very little about databases. This is made clear in the article Analysis of Steve Lucas’ Article on What Oracle Won’t Tell Your About HANA. And once again, he makes the absurd statement that SAP embraces Hadoop and Spark. SAP would have to wouldn’t they as Hadoop and Spark are the industry standard in Big Data, and SAP is virtually nowhere with Big Data. And when Steve Lucas states that OLTP is brought together with them, it makes absolutely no sense.
OLTP has nothing to do with Big Data!
HANA is OLAP, not OLTP, so it usually is just a good practice to ignore Steve Lucas. Some people don’t make any effort to learn the topic areas in which they work. And amazingly, Fortune simply allowed this statement to be published without questioning its obvious inaccuracy.
Vora Works With What?
Why the name? Vora was selected because it’s the Latin root for “voracious,” the implication being that Vora can consume large amounts of data, according to an SAP spokeswoman.
To be clear, the use of SAP HANA, the focal point of the company’s software push, is something SAP would recommend, but is not required. “We think Vora works well without HANA, but even better (natch!) with HANA, ” he said.
This is a strange statement. What else would Vora work with?
SAP’s Vora plugs into existing Apache Ambari console so developers can keep using their tools of choice.
SAP, a leader in enterprise software, is addressing a key need of big companies that want to query both their existing data warehouses and Hadoop data, ” said Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner.
That is strange because that is not what Spark is used for.
The Problem with Vora and the Dominance of Open Source Big Data Products
“SAP was smart to build it on Spark which is the loudest parade in town right now and very programmer focused,” Neudecker added.
One potential downside to Vora is that lot of the programmers in this field have an affinity for open-source software and SAP, is definitively a commercial software company which means it likes to be paid for its software. It will make a free developer version of Vora available on Amazon (AMZN, +0.11%) Web Services, but it cannot be deployed in production. Otherwise, commercial-use Vora will be priced on a subscription model with an 18-month term.
Yes, that is a massive downside.
And an even bigger downside is that it is entirely unclear how Vora adds any value over Spark. And the Big Data market is dominated by open source databases and tools, which looks terrible for SAP’s entry has SAP’s software cost and TCO is usually the highest in any application category in which SAP has an offering.
Making Hadoop a “Corporate Database”
IDC research vice president Carl Olofson said Vora will let companies optimize their Hortonworks (HDP, +0.83%) Hadoop and make it more like a corporate database in terms of queries and query performance.
That statement is illogical. Does Carl mean that it will make Hadoop more like an RDBMS? If so, that is not a desirable end state. I have never heard of the term corporate database before, and it is not a distinction I am aware of.
Other tech vendors are working on federated data query across different data platforms, but Olofson said the most direct competitors to Vora would be from data analytics companies like Platfora and Zaloni.
SAP did accurately describe what Vora is. But SAP seems to imply that because SAP has an entry, that it is necessarily a good solution to use. SAP fares very poorly against Big Data competitors, and it very little Big Data business, which means that there is very little reason to use SAP for Big Data, and little reason to purchase Vora. Furthermore, it appears that according to HG Insights, which tracks the usage of applications, databases, and hardware, few companies are using Vora.