SAP looks to score points for its HANA database through new NBA statisics site

The site is open to basketball fans who want to slice and dice league statistics

SAP is hoping to nail a slam dunk for its HANA in-memory platform through a partnership with the National Basketball Association on a new HANA-powered statistics website.

Access to the site is available at no charge. It incorporates every last piece of statistical data the NBA has on record, from box scores to individual player breakdowns, according to a statement. Until now, this depth of data was only available to the league and team staff.

Users can click through and slice-and-dice the information with a visual interface that in a hands-on test Friday exhibited a high rate of speed and fluidity.

The stats site is the latest result of a marketing partnership SAP signed with the NBA last year, as well as a potentially high-profile way for SAP to highlight the capabilities of HANA, which is supposed to be weaved into every part of SAP's technology portfolio over time.

The partnership with the NBA is a natural one, according to Steve Lucas, executive vice president of analytics, database and technology at SAP. The NBA's "brand, among other things, is speed and performance," he said. "Number two, it makes it very clear how this new technology really can have a positive impact on the individual. People think of SAP as a company focused on businesses, but here's a specific example of benefiting the fan."

The NBA's statistics database is only about 250GB in size, said Michael Gliedman, senior vice president and CIO of the league, in an interview Friday. The real challenge it has posed is the sheer number of ways queries can be written to combine multiple types of statistics, he said. "We call this 'big data on its head.'"

"If you had to build the site using flat files and pre-stage all the queries, we calculated it as 4.5 quadrillion permutations of the data," Gliedman said. HANA's architecture doesn't require pre-aggregates of the data, allowing users to navigate in real time.

Another challenge was the number of concurrent users a public statistics site could handle. Previously, the NBA had used an internal statistics tool and about a year ago gave the media access to a password-protected site, Gliedman said. The NBA's leadership then asked his team to create a statistics site for fans.

Some 20,000 users will be able to use the new site concurrently, and the NBA will easily be able to scale up the infrastructure as needed, Gliedman said.

The league is also planning to add new features, such as video, as well as more advanced navigation to the site over time. "This is just phase one."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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Tags databasesbusiness intelligencesoftwareapplicationsSAPdata warehousingNational Basketball Association

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Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
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