It is often said that data is to the modern business what oil was to the last century: a resource in great demand. And indeed, more and more companies I talk to are realizing the importance of data as a strategic asset. They use data to drive decisions and strategies, encounter and establish new business models, and remain competitive in the market.
Why less is sometimes more
To support various workloads, such as transactional and analytical, companies often have separate databases, data warehouses, and/or data lakes. Keeping operational and analytical systems separate has long been considered a best practice to prevent analytic workloads from disrupting operational processing.
But having multiple layers often means having multiple technologies to share the workload, with, for example, one technology used to run the applications, while another technology carries out the batch analysis. In such scenarios, the data must move from transactional systems to operational systems to analytical systems, slowing down processing and significantly hindering integration and the ability to gain real-time insights and analytics.
However, in today’s world of omnipresent data that streams in from multiple sources at incredibly high speed, companies need real-time access to information to ensure they take the right action at the right moment. When SAP was founded back in 1972, the dream of real-time computing – with software that provides a single view of the business, processing data the moment a customer asks for it, rather than overnight in batches – was central to the company’s vision. Back then, however, the technology to make this a reality was not yet available. Companies relied on Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) in one system and database, with daily extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes to copy the data from the transactional database to a separate analytics database, thereby losing the “single view” of the business.
A revolution in data platforms
With the introduction of SAP HANA in 2010, we made SAP’s vision of real-time computing a reality. The technology that enabled data to be stored just once without compromising either transactional or analytical workloads was now there. Because the data is in-memory, transactions and analytics can be run against the same database. Every piece of relevant data is accurate and available in real-time, meaning analytics no longer provides a view of the company that is hours – or possibly even days – old.
This is where what Forrester calls “translytics” comes in – a combination of “transaction” and “analytics.” According to Forrester, a translytical database is a “unified and integrated data platform that supports multi-workloads such as transactional, operational and analytical simultaneously in real-time, leveraging in-memory capabilities including support for SSD, Flash and DRAM and ensures full transactional integrity and data consistency”.
Gartner calls the combination of hybrid transaction and analytical processing “HTAP” and sees it as the future of business applications. Their analysts coined the term in 2014 to describe a new generation of in-memory data platforms that can perform both online transaction processing (OLTP) and online analytical processing (OLAP) without requiring data duplication.
Whether you call it translytics or HTAP – the general idea of a translytical database is to have one single technology layer that provides the basis for both application transactions and analytics. This means that you can perform all workloads, including real-time insights, machine learning, streaming analytics, and extreme transactional processing, within a single database.
Data when you need it, how you need it
There are several benefits to this: You don’t need to move data from operational databases to data warehouses. Transactional data is readily available for analytics. Drill-downs from analytic aggregates always point to fresh HTAP application data. You eliminate or at least reduce the need for multiple copies of the same data.
One example of such a translytical database is SAP HANA that not only provides one single technology layer, but also only one single copy of data. With SAP HANA, you can develop and run intelligent applications that advise users on next steps and automate actions and let’s you understand information in context to achieve situation awareness. In addition, it allows companies to decide and act in the moment. It is also the first and only data platform to combine translytics/HTAP with multi-model analytics, offering superior real-time analytics on live transactions, most comprehensive advanced analytical processing, and the ability to connect to data from any source with data virtualization – next-gen HTAP, so to speak.
We are extremely proud that the impressive capabilities of this important piece of the SAP portfolio were recently recognized by independent analyst firm Forrester: SAP has been named a leader in “The Forrester Wave™: Translytical Data Platforms, Q4 2017”, ranking highest for strategy and market presence.
From the dozen vendors evaluated, SAP HANA, SAP Data Hub and the SAP Agile Data Preparation service scored full marks in 18 of 25 evaluation criteria that Forrester applied in the research study. SAP HANA is the core of SAP’s translytical platform, which supports many use cases, including real-time applications, analytics, translytical apps, systems of insight, and advanced analytics. It is extended by SAP Vora, supporting the Apache Spark execution framework to deliver enriched interactive analytics on Hadoop.