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Author's profile photo Rudi Leibbrandt

Using SAP SQL Anywhere to enable edge computing for the Internet of Things

In an increasingly digitized world, the number of internet enabled devices is growing exponentially. A 2014 Gartner report predicts a 30 fold increase in internet connected devices over the next five years. Other analysts estimate that 4 to 6 billion internet connected devices will be sold in 2015 alone.

The extreme growth in the internet of things is being driven by business value that comes from using real-time data at the edges of the enterprise to improve real-time operational decision making. Here are a few examples:

  • A supply chain logistics management system analyzes data from connected vehicles, cargo containers, traffic control systems, road sensors, and rail systems to optimize routing and schedule cargo loading. This minimizes idle time of people and equipment, and it improves utilization of warehouse space.
  • A farm tractor located far from any convenient services is equipped with hundreds of imbedded sensors that provide real-time measurements of mechanical components and transmit the data for monitoring and predictive maintenance analysis. If the system anticipates a potential component failure, it automatically notifies the nearest service center which triggers a service call to replace the component before it breaks. This minimizes tractor down time.
  • A large retailer has beacon networks in its stores that track customers who choose to participate in the in-store promotions program. The beacons transmit in-store customer locations, based on mobile phone data, to a system that analyzes that data against the customer’s known shopping patterns, and the system sends personalized, timely promotions directly to customer’s phones while they are in the store.
  • An athlete wears an internet connected watch that measures heart rate and other statistics that are logged by her personalized fitness service which uses the data make recommendations about her fitness program.

These are just a few examples of how people and businesses are using sensors, IoT gateways, and smart applications to capture context sensitive information at the edges of the enterprise, and how they are using that information to drive better decision-making. Many of these connected devices are only connected some of the time because of the way they are used. This requires that the devices work “offline”, with automatic synchronization of data once a connection is available again.

This brings me to the announcement at Sapphire today, where SAP announced that it will provide the SQL Anywhere Remote Database client for free for use with SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) > – IoT Services.   

SQL Anywhere is the most developer friendly, enterprise ready embeddable database technology in the market today. It is extremely lightweight, and can be deployed on devices with minimal compute and storage capacity. It has integrated data synchronization capability, and is what makes this technology special.   

SQL Anywhere is a suite of products, with 3 major components – the SQL Anywhere database, the Ultralite database and the MobiLink data synchronization technology.  

  • The SQL Anywhere database is designed as a mobile and embedded RDBMS, with enterprise features like spatial support, full-text search, and advanced encryption options. The database supports all major operating systems, and it is possible to deploy on a server in a data center, or on a laptop (it runs on a Mac too!), or a smaller device – such as a Raspberry Pi, or even the highly commoditized smart phone. It is a self-managing database that tunes buffer pool allocation on-the-fly to fit the application requirements, so there is zero admin overhead.
  • UltraLite was designed specifically for devices with low compute and storage capabilities. It is not quite as fully featured as SQL Anywhere – and it doesn’t need to be, as it is meant to provide basic database features to on-device applications
  • MobiLink is the integrated data synchronization technology that takes care of up and downstream synchronization.  MobiLink can synchronize data directly into HANA from remote database clients (SQL Anywhere database or UltraLite)

Linking your edge devices to HCP and HANA has just become a lot simpler – no need to count and license thousands of sensors, gateways or devices – simply subscribe to the HCP IOT Service, and your SQL Anywhere databases are licensed for unlimited IOT endpoints. Collect the data at the edge, seamlessly deliver it to HCP, and leverage HANA’s in memory computing power and analytical capabilities to drive the critical decisions that power your business.

You can read more about SQL Anywhere here.  For customers with a subscription to the HCP IOT Services, there is no need to purchase remote SQL Anywhere or UltraLite clients.

So, application developers, ISVs and OEMS – to get started, download the SQL Anywhere developer edition here, and join our SCN community to learn more about the technology.

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