Posts Tagged ‘HANA’

Centerpoint Optimized Segmentation with HANA

March 1st, 2016 No comments

Whenever I attend utility industry events I continue to run into Centerpoint Energy and hear about all the different ways they are using SAP HANA to transformation their business.  The latest story is around optimizing their customer segmentation process.  This innovation was first discussed on the HANA Podcast – Episode 5.


CenterPoint Energy is an energy delivery company headquartered in Houston, TX. They deliver electricity over 2.3 million smart meter customers around Houston. In addition they also deliver natural gas across six states and have assets over $22 billion.

Customer Segmentation

Centerpoint decided to make HANA a strategic investment across their organization and implement customer vision platform to provide a unified view of a customer across all lines of business and engage in consultative approach.

As a result they have slowly been rolling out more and more innovation centered around the real-time business benefits that HANA delivers.  One of the first innovations was moving their CRM system to HANA.  This allowed them to create and their customer segments in 10 minutes instead of 4 weeks.  In the past without HANA Raj Erode says the underlying database supporting segmentations slows down dramatically once an organization has more than 1 million customers.  In the case of Centerpoint they have 5M customers across natural gas and electric.  This was a problem.  In addition, you can imagine how much your customer data in the 4 weeks it used to take them to create a segment!!

HANA Business Benefits

As a result they saw tremendous business benefit.  They are now able to:

  • Create marketing targets with up-to-date information within CRM rather than historical data.
  • Save marketing dollars by being more nimble and adjusting target groups on the fly.
  • Generate faster, more accurate reporting on sales opportunities and activities, marketing campaigns, marketing effectiveness, and results.

This process was so beneficial that it was clear they would want to bring in more data elements and automate their existing data loads.  As a result of automated data loads they were able to:

  • Realize a 200% increase in productivity by replacing manual data loads with scheduled data loads into HANA.
  • Combine SAP and non-SAP customer data so that more data elements could be used for better, more accurate customer targeting.

There were 5 different non-SAP systems they pulled data from including:  Outage Management System, Home Service Plus.

For More Information…

Please check out this Business Transformation Study as well as their Customer Vision Presentation from the SAP for Utilities Conference.

SAP HANA continues to be a game-changer a organizations use it to break down the barriers of what was once thought as impossible.

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Categories: HANA Tags: ,

SAP Discusses Latest BI Roadmap

August 15th, 2013 3 comments


Yesterday, many SAP BusinessObjects customers, mentors, partners and even a few competitors listened in as Steve Lucas as he unveiled SAP’s bold, new analytics strategy.  The twittersphere as active as tweets were tracked using #allaccessanalytics, we had a lot of fun.  Zimkhita Buwa quipped:

Steve emphasized that SAP isn’t delivering a ‘mission accomplished’ banner.  It’s just a ‘mission’ banner.  “Where we are and where we are going.”  There is a bunch still to come…  One of the first bold things he did announce was that the personal edition of SAP Lumira is free and you can download it now.  In addition you can also register for free access to the SAP Lumira Cloud.  You can register for free here.

New Mindset

It was clear to hear Steve’s passion for analytics.  His passion goes way, way back… and is always welcome.  In fact, I think this is an old picture of Steve’s car back in 2003.

He talked about BusinessObjects founder Bernard Liautaud and the rich legacy from which this SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite comes.  Steve took a note from Visha Sikka to say that SAP is and will innovate and that the Innovator’s Dilemma is crap.  Customers will continue to see great new innovations from SAP.

The new mindset from SAP delivers three pillars:

  • Enterprise Business Intelligence – For the Entire Organization
  • Agile Visualization – For the Business
  • Advanced Analytics – Data Science for Everyone

Enterprise Business Intelligence

With 60,000 customers, SAP continues to have to largest market share within the Business Intelligence space.  SAP BusinessObjects didn’t invent Business Intelligence but our experience in the space is very rich… and if not SAP BusinessObjects then who?  SAP is going to continue to build out capabilities for the Enterprise organization.  This is squarely focused on our SAP BusinessObjects product line.

At the same time the market has shifted and everyday business users want to be able to connect to their data quickly and easily and get new insights and share those insights with colleagues… and perhaps not have IT involved at all.  That brings us to agile visualization.

Agile Visualization

In SAP’s mind, Agile means it’s incredibly easy to adopt and deploy.  It should be light-weight.  Visualization means that its high quality and there is storytelling behind it.  The visualization tells a story.  It gives new insights.

So is this just Lumira?

No.  Steve was clear about this.  This is not just Lumira.  Lumira and Lumira cloud are a part of the agile visualization strategy, but the agile visualization strategy.  He promised that more would be shared at TechEd, etc.  I think this is great news!  We are beginning to see integration today between Lumira Cloud and on-premise systems and it sounds like this will continue.

Advanced Analytics

Steve said that this is more than just predictive.  As with Lumira, Predictive is a part, but there’s more.  SAP’s view is that this is not just for data scientists but data science for everyone.  It sounds we might begin seeing more ‘smart’ functionality build into the analytics.  We’ve already seen predictive leveraging the interface of Lumira for easy data access.  I can definitely envision a lot of possibilities here.

Key SAP Executives

Michael Reh (@reh_michael) – is leading development.  Passionate about analytics.

Christian Rodatus (@crodatus)  – Go to market executive for analytics.  18 years at Teradata.  Brings big data perspective.

Shekhar Iyer (@shekharlyer111) is leading the BI organization.  Brings a predictive perspective.

Jack Miller (@jackmillerIII) is Chief Customer Officer – in charge of generating successful, happy customers.

Jayne Landry (@jaynelandry) is Crystal Kiwi, working closely with Shekhar.

Other Highlights

SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.1 is out of ramp-up.  All the KPIs were hit, so I would expect a GA release soon with the release of SP1.

There was a great video of a WebIntelligence-like product that was running on top of HANA.  It was written completely in HTML5.  I’ve never seen this before.

Screenshot of HTML5 WebI-like Tool

There was another nice video of Lumira doing geospatial analysis using the new Lumira Visualization Extensions which were released with SP11.  Timo Elliott recently did a nice blog post talking about this topic.

Lumira with Geospatial Capabilities

Lumira with Geospatial Plug-in

On September 9th, SAP is planning to launch a new BI online support site.  It looks as if they are following in the footsteps of the HANA launch site.  They briefly showed a mock-up of what it might look like.

Magic Bus

Steve revealed the new bus.  Yes, it’s a literal Big Data Bus.  SAP will be rolling out a mobile briefing center that will be used to showcase SAP’s latest and greatest. I think it’s one of SAP’s ways of saying there’s  50 ways to leave your… niche BI tools.   So hop on the bus Gus!

I couldn’t resist.

My Thoughts…

If you are an SAP customer and haven’t yet purchased SAP BusinessObjects, there is no better time than now.  The integration between SAP and the BusinessObjects BI Suite is second to none.  Here are a list of just a few of the unique advantages you can leverage when reporting against SAP ERP and SAP BW with SAP BusinessObjects:

  • Support for SAP CTS+
  • Integration with Solution Manager
  • Support for RRI (Report to Report Interface)
  • Support for BICS (3x faster than legacy BAPI interface)
  • Best Heterogeneous data source support
  • Best Slice/dice performance within MS Excel
  • Embedded Analytics within SAP Business Suite EP6
  • Crystal Reports options for Advanced List Viewer (ALV)
  • Semantic layer support for Infosets, ABAP functions and ABAP Queries
  • 100% In-memory support for all your SAP data

If your organization is committed to SAP Business Suite, then leveraging SAP BusinessObjects to provide reporting off those solutions is a no brainer.

Secondly, have a look at Predictive Analysis.  Although this product is relatively new, SAP has come a long way very quickly.  SAP has combined the core self-service Lumira (Visual Intelligence) product together with the power of R to deliver world class predictive analytics to the data analyst.  The interface is extremely easy to use and if you haven’t seen it, check out the post I did where I provided a product walk-through.  It may not necessarily replace SAS today, but it can deliver tremendous value by shortening the length of time it takes data analysts to build, model and run predictive algorithms.  Users are no longer wholly dependent on the small number of statisticians to provide predictive  and statistical analysis.  Predictive Analysis is a game changer.

Thirdly, get familiar with SAP’s simplified licensing.  Back in the day, when BusinessObjects was just one product, licensing was easy. Over the years as the BusinessObjects BI portfolio has grown, not everyone was ready to leverage the new technologies such as WebIntelligence, Dashboards, Explorer, etc.  As a result, BusinessObjects allowed customers to buy products à la carte to keep the pricing competitive.   A lot has changed.  Today, Business Intelligence is ubiquitous.  Everyone needs it and organizations should want to leverage the same solution for multiple types of users who have different analytic needs.  Back when the only product was had was Crystal Reports, I used to show how Crystal Reports provided enterprise reporting, adhoc reporting and dashboards. SAP’s approach was to simplify this licensing through bundles.  At the beginning of 2013, SAP offered BI Suite licensing which provided two important changes:  concurrent user licensing and a powerful software bundle of nearly every product in the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Product Suite.


This #allaccesswebinar didn’t answer all our questions but one thing was clear:  SAP is fully committed to an easy-to-adopt analytics product suite for all users that serves the enterprise through both on-premise and cloud.  They are committed to delivering solutions that: compete head-to-head against the newcomers, deliver customer value and are agile and easy to adopt and use.

If you want more information on the latest published roadmaps from SAP, go here.

Now… hop on the bus Gus!

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HANA continues momentum in Utilities…

July 12th, 2013 No comments

I believe HANA represents the most significant innovation in SAP’s history.  A year ago I wrote  a quick summary of some of the key value points that HANA brings to an organization and I focused specifically on BW on HANA, one of the most common HANA use cases for existing SAP customers.  Over the last 12 months and multiple Sapphire’s I’m hearing more and more about out different customers are leveraging HANA to get access to detailed, real-time data to analyze massive amounts of information in seconds and solve issues that couldn’t be solved before.

Common Use Cases for Utilities

Part 1: Leveraging SAP HANA to Improve Back-Office OperationsSee a presentation on how utilities can leverage the SAP HANA platform to Improving operational reporting within the utilities infrastructure, finance, and procurement, andd transform the strategic use and value of current SAP investments such as SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse.  This session was lead by me.

Part 2: Energy Analytics for Customer Operations

Learn how leveraging the incredible speed delivered via SAP HANA in-memory analytics can impact revenue assurance, energy efficiency programs and customer insights.  This session was lead by Sven Bergstrom.


Part 3: Intelligent Data for Smart Grid Operations

Explore how analytics can help you better understand and manage smart grid operations and performance—including outage management, energy portfolio management, fault analytics, and retrospective asset health analytics.   This session was lead by Carol Arneson.

Watch This Space

We heard a lot about HANA at Sapphire (See Replays here).  Now the adoption of HANA continues to spread across Utilities.  Expect to hear a from your colleagues at the SAP for Utilities conference this fall in Huntington Beach.  I hope to see you there!


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Categories: HANA Tags: , ,

Sizing Up HANA

May 10th, 2012 2 comments

HANA is here, so I wanted to take a minute a field a few common questions about HANA licensing.

The software stack comes with the hardware provided by the hardware partners, whereas the license has to be obtained from SAP.  SAP HANA is sold in 64GB units.  Although the product is non-discountable, it does come in tiered pricing which means the more you buy the cheaper the units are.

One other interesting caveat with the hardware is that you do not necessarily have to license the entire appliance, so if you want to purchase a large box today, you are required to license at least half the addressable memory.  In other words, if the box is 1TB, you must license between 512GB and 1024 GB (or 8 to 16 units).

In addition to the software license associated with the appliance, SAP HANA also requires SAP Named Users.

For information on available hardware appliances, check out:

HANA Editions

HANA is currently available in 3 flavors.

HANA Platform Edition -This is the basic edition.  This contains the software stack needed to use SAP HANA as a database, including the SAP HANA database, SAP HANA Studio for data modeling and administration, the SAP HANA clients, and software infrastructure components.  This is primarily for customers who already have Data Integrator licenses.

HANA BW Edition – This new edition of HANA is for existing SAP BW customers who want to continue doing all their data warehousing within the BW modeling environment.  In other words, you can do whatever you can do today with standalone BW, except that now BW is running on HANA.

Note that this edition does not allow the combination of both SAP and non-SAP data using a transient Info Provider.  That would require the Enterprise Edition.

Example of a Transient Data Provider

HANA Enterprise Edition – This edition extends the HANA Platform Edition with the software licenses needed for customers who want a single solution to import in data from SAP and non-SAP sources.  This edition includes SAP LT replication or ETL-based replication.  The ETL-based replication is provided by SAP BusinessObjects Data Services and the license only allows for the movement of data from external data sources into SAP HANA.  This also includes data distribution rights similar to Open Hub.

**UPDATE 2/1/2013:  There was HANA Enterprise EXTENDED Edition.  This edition has been discontinued.  This edition extended  the HANA Enterprise Edition with the software licenses needed for customers who need replication server to replicate non-SAP data into HANA from DB2.

Let’s drill into the requirements for moving to BW on HANA in more detail.


AKA:  SAP Netweaver Business Warehouse 7.3, powered by HANA.

This product went GA a month early.  SAP reported a great response from the ramp-up process and news that everything went extremely well was welcome news.  As a result, I’ve seen many BW customers asking about what is required to move to SAP HANA.

The good news is it’s pretty easy.  The migration process is pretty straight-forward.  Assuming you are already on BW 7.3, it requires about the same amount of work as migration from Oracle to DB2.

Here are some details on the minimum requirements for running BW on HANA.

  • The BW environment must be running BW 7.3
  • BW must be running Unicode
  • BW must have updated analysis authorizations
  • SAP HANA requires a split ABAP/Java stack.  If you are running the dual stack on a single server, they must be broken apart.  This was recommended in BW 7.0 but now it’s a requirement.  In some cases I’ve seen customers who had them both installed but were only using the ABAP stack.  Make sure you need both.

How Much HANA Do I Need?

If you need to do sizing for a BW environment, it’s pretty straightforward.  SAP Note 1637145 walks you through the process.  Use the link below to access it:

NOTE:  The  HANA sizing script that runs against BW assumes that Unicode is not currently configured.  Unless there are lots of text fields, the impact of already having unicode enabled will be negligible.

For non-BW environments (including SAP ERP) you should leverage this note:

Here is a final note on HANA Sizing:

The sizing of your HANA environment will depend on the type of data compression you can get from the HANA platform.  Typically organizations are seeing an average of 7x compression, which is pretty good.  Depending on the type of data it can be even larger.  Most of the SAP Notes use a very conservative 5x compress.

#1 Thing to Remember When Sizing

The only thing to keep in mind is that when you are sizing HANA for every 1GB of storage space, you also need 1GB of working space.  Therefore if you have 500 GB of data, you will need an additional 500 GB of working space, therefore you will need to license a 1TB HANA appliance, therefore when doing the HANA sizing it’s best to see how much raw data there is and then divide by 3, that will give you the amount of GB space you will need to license for HANA.

The Value of HANA

It’s critical that you understand the value of HANA for your organization.  Although I have no doubt that HANA can provide value for every organization, it’s important look at the business problem and calculate a solid ROI.  The top three use cases we are seeing our customers leverage HANA is:

  • Analytics & Operational Reporting – Often these are issues around a need for real time, detailed data which represents large data sets which currently have unacceptable query times or data latency issues.
  • Accelerate ECC Transactions – In some cases, there are batch processes with a large number of read operations.  These processes if run through HANA can happen as much as 350x faster than in a traditional database.  If there are any batch processes that have a limited batch window, you should consider how HANA might help you reduce the overall processing time.
  • HANA Based Applications– HANA provides the ability to create applications that have never been able to exist before because the data and algorithms applied to that data was so complex, that they were simply unrealistic to consider.  SAP is now working with customers to develop a number of “killer apps” running on the HANA platform.I loved Steve Lucas’ analogy.  Think of HANA as the Gaming System (e.g. Xbox, PS3) and HANA based Applications as the game that makes you buy the platform (e.g. Halo, Uncharted).

In my next post I’ll be writing about why you should leverage SAP to help deliver HANA Value workshops.

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Categories: HANA Tags: , ,

Bill McDermott Talks SAP

December 14th, 2011 No comments

Earlier this month, I got a chance to see Bill McDermott, SAP CEO on Mad Money with Cramer.  When asked about the markets in Europe, I loved his response:

If you can deliver a solution that gives a leader of company a business outcome,  they can reach their customers better, they can automated their demand-driven supply chain, they can take better care of their people, they can do things better, they will invest.

Absolutely.  I’ve seen this over and over again.  If you can show value, efficiency gains, cost savings and return on investment, companies will invest.

Here is the whole interview:

It was cool to see SAP HANA discussed.  The speed increases we are seeing have been amazing.  Here’s an extensive, non-technical article about SAP HANA by Bob Evans that appears on the Forbes website:

SAP HANA and the Game Changing Power of Speed

As the year winds down, it’s exciting the see what’s ahead for SAP.  In particular I’m interested to see what will develop with the acquisition of the Sybase IQ database.  It was the first columnar data store and long time member of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems.

Sybase IQ is a very mature product which provides excellent price performance, yet with the emergence of  SAP HANA, which  not only contains a columnar data store, but also runs 100% in-memory.  What does the future hold?

One thing is for sure, the momentum of HANA continues to build and the future of trusted Business Intelligence looks bright.

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Categories: HANA, In the News Tags: , ,