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by Adrian Westmoreland and Steve McHugh

“The only thing that is constant is change,” Heraclitus.

Analytics landscapes are always changing, evolving, and improving.  We’ve gone from ‘governed BI’ to ‘modern and agile BI with data discovery,’ to the acceptance of cloud analytics and now emergent ‘smart BI’ using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to provide natural language interfaces. Innovation is moving both technology and the benefits it can offer organizations rapidly forward.

Cloud strategies have solidified and cloud products have matured to a point where the decision to switch from on premise to the cloud for many is a ‘done deal.’  A big question now is: How do you capitalize on the significant investments made in the reliable IT-run and managed on premise analytics systems, data sources and existing landscapes that have served the business well for many years?

The answer is “Hybrid”—a mixture of legacy on-premise applications and resources and new cloud applications and their respective workloads.

The Market’s Demand

Many organizations are operating in a mixed landscape with on-premise and cloud technologies and data. A recent survey¹ by Forrester Consulting commissioned by SAP found that 88% of respondents reported that they regard hybrid analytics/BI platforms as important to their company, and 60% see some sort of hybrid configuration as the next iteration of their analytics/BI and data processing solutions.

The market sees value in hybrid solutions and the need is real.

So What Does This Mean for SAP Customers?

The SAP Analytics product strategy supports customers in their journey with on premise to cloud interoperability as a way for the organization to manage all types of analytics across their business. The essential elements of SAP’s hybrid analytics strategy are based around minimizing disruption and allowing re-use of existing investments, while recognizing the need to modernize the user experience and offer the latest analytic capabilities in a native cloud solution.

The BI component of our analytics product strategy is focused on combining SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise into a hybrid solution that leverages the strengths of both platforms, while enabling rapid innovation in the cloud and providing a seamless experience across on-premise and cloud landscapes.

As Gerrit Kazmaier states in his recent blog²:

 The aim is to make data—be it structured or unstructured, in the cloud, or on premise—an accessible asset that enables all users to make confident decisions. The key to this lies in the concept of convergence—at the level of the analytics tools, the semantics for data, the roles of the people who use it, and how it is accessed.”

Gerrit Kazmaier, Senior Vice President and Head of Development for SAP Analytics²


Addressing Security Concerns

The flexibility of accessing data either through a live connection to sources behind the firewall or by replicating data into the cloud is of vital importance. Where data is maintained can be a critical point of contention. Whether through corporate governance or governmental regulation, many need to keep their data behind their firewall.

The same survey by Forrester Consulting commissioned by SAP found that 71% of companies said they would feel less concerned about running analytics in the cloud if they knew that no data (including query results) would ever cross the firewall. This is a key part of SAP’s product strategy: to allow customers to leave the data where it is, bring their analytics to that data, and support hybrid analytics use cases.

Hybrid Is Not Just Technology

It’s also important to call out the fact that hybrid is not just about technology. Our hybrid strategy goes beyond simply using technology to assist customers in their transition to the cloud. SAP is also offering a commercial program called the Cloud Extension Policy to transition maintenance on unused software licenses into cloud subscription licenses.

So What Are the Benefits of Hybrid?

Key benefits that are available through hybrid analytics include:

  • Increased value from your on-premise data and metadata investments by leveraging them with the cloud’s capabilities

  • Better business agility through self-service modern analytics/BI capabilities and the cloud’s flexibility

  • Broader user and departmental access to analytical tools and reports, decreasing silo effect

  • Rising user adoption of these tools leading to better business performance

  • Expansion and extension of use cases far beyond the limitations of on-premise systems

The Bottom Line of SAP’s Hybrid Strategy

In summary, delivery on SAP’s hybrid analytics strategy is focused on the following areas.

  • Solid interoperability between SAP BusinessObjects BI (BOE) and SAP Analytics Cloud

  • Single front end for all (SAP or 3rd party) analytics content and access across the enterprise with SAP Analytics Hub

  • Live Connectivity: Data stays resident on premise and live for real-time insight

  • AI-infused analytics with self-service SMART data discovery and predictive analysis infusing machine learning and natural language processing

  • Rapid and agile innovation with software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud deployment

  • Deployment of analytics on premise and in the cloud with the Cloud Extension Policy

Next in the Hybrid Blog Series

In the next blog in this series, we’ll explore SAP Analytics Hub, built on SAP Analytics Cloud, which provides a searchable catalog for all analytics content (including SAP or third-party content) allowing customers to bring together all analytic assets whether on premise or cloud.  Upcoming blogs will feature Live Connectivity and integration with SAP and non-SAP systems that can deliver real-time insight, and SMART data discovery with advanced capabilities.

Learn More

¹ Improving Business Performance By Closing BI Maturity Gaps With Hybrid Cloud Deployments, an April 2018 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP

² You can find all the blogs in the “Better Together: The Power of a Converged Analytics Platform”  series from Gerrit Kasmaier, Senior Vice President and Head of Development for SAP Analytics here.