SAP aims for bigger presence in 'big data' with Hadoop partnerships, new apps

SAP will resell Hadoop distributions from Intel and Hortonworks

Few tech buzzwords of late have been more prevalent than "big data," and SAP is hoping to make sure the market knows it's hip to the trend with a series of new announcements.

Perhaps the most significant announcement, made at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, concerns a pair of new agreements under which SAP will resell and support Apache Hadoop distributions from Intel and Hortonworks.

While SAP had already begun building bridges between its own products and Hadoop, the open-source framework for large-scale data processing, the Intel and Hortonworks deals will allow it to offer customers a more well-rounded set of Hadoop tools.

"We have signed a formal agreement driven by both companies at the executive level to make HANA plus Hadoop a winning combination for our customers," said Irfan Khan, senior vice president and general manager, SAP Big Data, in an interview.

Beyond the reseller deals with Intel and Hortonworks, SAP plans to continue certifying and supporting other Hadoop distributions.

While definitions of "big data" vary, in general the term refers to the large amounts of unstructured data being generated by websites, social media services, sensors and other sources. Big data discussions also often refer to the "three Vs," or the velocity, variety and volume of information streams.

SAP plans to roll out a series of specialized applications that focus on specific big data use cases. One announced Tuesday is aimed at manufacturers and called Demand Signal Management. It focuses on capturing and crunching what SAP calls "downstream demand" data, such as from retail point-of-sale systems, for insights that could help marketing teams and supply chain managers operate more effectively.

Other big data-themed applications target areas such as fraud management and customer engagement. Ten applications are in "ramp-up," SAP's term for its early-adopter program, and the vendor has "an aggressive timeline for the remainder of this year and leading into 2014," Khan said.

Finally, SAP has created a new Data Science organization within the company.

This team brings together about 100 data scientists, people with high-level degrees in mathematics, and will be "closely aligned with SAP's overall big data strategy," according to a statement.

More details of SAP's big data strategy and products will likely come in October at the Tech Ed conference in Las Vegas.

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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