SAP is working with cloud BI supplier Birst to provide “instant analytics in the cloud” on the Hana in-memory database platform.
The tie-up will unite SAP’s cloud platform with Birst’s so-called “two-tier data architecture” to speed up the implementation of business intelligence programmes.
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Birst’s analytics engine, which is protected by patents, has been wrought to provide a data store in Hana that can provide “visual discovery, dashboards and enterprise reports”. It will, the suppliers said, provide instant analytics across on-premise and cloud data sources such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP and Hadoop.
Brad Peters, chairman and chief product officer of Birst, said: “The real opportunity in BI lies in our ability to push data to the front lines, empowering every person to make every decision better.
“We’re combining in the cloud, for the first time, the agility of the Birst cloud BI platform with the speed of Hana. We’re calling this ‘instant analytics’. It breaks through the traditional trade-offs. On the one hand you’ve got the desktop data discovery tools, that are limited, and don’t ingest all an enterprise’s data at sufficient speed.
"On the other, the old school data warehousing and business intelligence platforms, that are far from agile and far from responsive to the needs of business end users.”
Prakash Darji, senior vice-president and general manager of platform as a service for SAP, said: “We built Hana to simplify that landscape of siloed data pipes. We aim to collapse the stack of data layers so you bring the data in and analyse it immediately. Through in-memory processing in parallel compute we have created that ability.
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“Roughly a third of our 4,000 Hana customers are using it as a simplified analytics platform. Birst provides the self-service analytics capability, so it works well with an agile, simplified approach.
“It’s not the only analytics or BI suite available on Hana in the cloud. We have our own Lumira [self-service data visualization] application. But we are about offering customers a choice, not looking to lock them in.”
Peters and Dharji said the two companies started working together about nine months ago, and see the joint activity as a “strategic partnership”.
Peters said: "When we looked at our customer base, we saw SAP all over the place and Salesforce, and so on. Birst has that data integration layer that can pull those together to get cross-enterprise view.
“To handle cross enterprise data, you need a real data store, not some edge data mart. We’ve tested every data store out there and Hana is the best – there is nothing faster.
“If you look at the market landscape, everything falls into two buckets. Either some sort of proprietary in-memory database, which was built as a desktop tool and will never leverage Hana. Only relational online analytical processing (ROLAP) tools that generate SQL to make Hana do real work, as with Birst will do.
“Flashy graphics alone do not make a BI platform.”
Birst’s UK customers include Reckitt Benkiser, Argus Media, Dialogue Communications, itsu, EAT, and the Financial Times. At the time of writing it is not known which of them is using Birst on Hana.