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SAP Unveils Its BI Black Box
SAPPHIRE '05 International: The software giant, HP, and Intel combine efforts to produce an appliance that allows more employees to tap into analytic
Posted May 20, 2005
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SAP is teaming with HP and Intel to deliver a new technology that the companies say will bring breakthrough BI performance to organizations of all sizes. The announcement comes on the heels of SAP's launch of more than 100 industry-specific analytic applications, and was just one of about a dozen product announcements revealed at the SAPPHIRE '05 international customer conference.

During his keynote Thursday, Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group, stood beside a big black box that resembled a refrigerator. According to Agassi, the box is the key for enterprises to open an abundance of role-based analytic tools SAP plans to roll out by year's end. A smaller black box resembling a VCR is the key for SMBs. Starting costs are $50,000 for a small one and $150,000 for a medium box, also to be made available. After that, companies can add blade technology from HP to enhance analytic capabilities as needed. Shipment will start later this year.

"BW hasn't been the snazziest data warehouse out there so far, so we put in EUCLID high-performance analytics," Agassi said. EUCLID is the software component that allows for the high-speed queries these black appliances will produce for end-users across organizations. "Think of Google in a box, only not for unstructured data, but for structured. Intel is making it happen, HP is putting it in a box." He described the mechanism as a simple tool with two plugs, one for power and one for the Internet, and two WiFi antennas, condensing 17 levers of complexity into a "ready-to-go business box."

Developed in collaboration with Intel as an integral capability of the SAP NetWeaver platform, the Enterprise ServicesReady technology is preloaded on HP ProLiant servers running on 64-bit Intel Xeon processors and HP StorageWorks storage area network (SAN) systems. It reduces query times from minutes to subseconds and utilizes FLASH technology to make searches visually captivating. HP is serving as a pilot customer, and is impressed with the results. The company said it is able to sort through 1 billion records in a second. Executives from all three companies applauded the partnership as a significant step as business embark on Enterprise Services Architecture, SAP's blueprint for a business-driven approach to services-oriented architecture (SOA).

Jacqueline Coolidge, research director at AMR Research, says if the new appliance actually delivers the subsecond queries it is promising and does so with minimum IT effort--dynamically indexing information--it will address an important problem in the market. "It's exciting and it's a great way to enhance performance," Coolidge says. "The big mantra on the [SAPPHIRE] floor was analytics is everywhere. Their intent is to push information out to a far broader range of users. They're blurring the lines between transactions and analytical applications delivering information for the task at hand."

Developed in collaboration with Intel as an integral capability of the SAP NetWeaver platform, the Enterprise ServicesReady technology is preloaded on HP ProLiant servers running on 64-bit Intel Xeon processors and HP StorageWorks storage area network systems. It reduces query times from minutes to subseconds and uses FLASH technology to make searches visually captivating. HP is serving as a pilot customer, and is impressed with the results. The company said it is able to sort through 1 billion records in a second.

Each SAP Analytics application is model-driven and code-free and can be combined and extended with other analytics applications, and each plays a specific role across areas including CRM, product life-cycle management, and supply chain management. SAP Analytics for CRM, for example, will provide extensive visualization across marketing, lead generation, pipeline visibility, sales effectiveness, and individual customer views. It provides sales executives and corporate offices with a complete view of customer buying patterns and profitability for detecting hidden opportunities for future business growth, according to SAP. By the end of the year, the company will roll out 100 of the 200 analytic tools it has designed over the past few months.

The product, which SAP has only called an appliancelike offering, isn't shipping yet and there are no real customers other than HP in the testing phase. Iit's difficult to say whether it will be competitive with more traditional BI vendors' wares like Cognos and Business Objects, but it doesn't bode well for SAP's relationships with them, AMR's Coolidge says. "This is not directly competitive. It's only a component--it's less about BI than NetWeaver."

Related articles:
A New Business Blueprint Stars at SAPPHIRE '05
SAP touts its NetWeaver platform/partnership concept as the next evolution in CRM, blending innovation with best-of-breed capabilities.
SAP Goes Vertical
SAP releases the latest version of its CRM suite, but analysts cite the company's 'failure' to deliver a hosted application.

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