Lots of companies are looking for opportunities by means of which they can use Big Data or can assess the vast mountains of data available internally, e.g. measurement data obtained from production machines – as efficiently, quickly and simply as possible. Hana offers an approach to this.
Yet in this regard, a widespread misconception still holds sway: this view reduces Hana to the functionality of a database management system (DBMS). Consequently the possible range of uses is unnecessarily limited and application users tap into only a fraction of Hana’s potential. Dell has identified six value-categories that explain the application scenarios in which companies can use Hana and where the added-value is to be found.
1. Real-time operational intelligence
By the use of real-time operational intelligence, subject-specialist departments are given information, almost in real-time, regarding the business processes currently taking place, and can then act accordingly. For instance, in the monitoring and managing of industrial facilities‘ operations, a whole variety of systems produce data on an ongoing basis, data that are of interest for the regular sequence of activities and for maintenance.
Because machines are often monitored by different systems, hitherto the data gathered were analysed only after a time-lag. Hana makes it possible to assess immediately the measurement data currently coming in, using complex algorithms, and thus to recognize critical patterns.
If unexpected results emerge in operations, the staff can intervene straightaway – instead of waiting for the next monitoring interval – localize error-sources and deal with problems. In this way, the facility’s non-scheduled down-times can be reduced and/or productivity can be raised. It is also conceivable to set up a dashboard for the Production Director, so that all central processes can be seen at one glance. More efficient processes of repair and maintenance save companies a lot of money.
2. Decision support, simulation, automation
Hana provides the possibility to read unstructured data – i.e. data that, as such, are unavailable as tables. As a result, Hana is suitable for assessing social-media data obtained from Facebook or Twitter, for example. Data sourced in this way include, for example, the opinions held about the relevant company and its products, or the effectiveness of a marketing or advertising campaign currently in progress is measured.
Another example is the assessment of machine-data and the forecast of when production by a given machine will be disrupted. The data assessment and the notification can proceed automatically. Such an application-scenario is based on models that automate processes, based on a body of rules, and thus operate them more efficiently. Hana analyses the data that emerge from this, forecasts future events and automatically produces instructions for action to be taken to avoid harm.
3. Business Process Performance
Many business processes, e.g. the constantly-recurring monthly accounts, which not infrequently required a week or even longer, can be cut down to just a few days by Hana. This is primarily evident in the context of the jointly-incurred costs and their redistribution among the various cost-centers.
Yet some companies do not limit themselves to merely accelerating the applications and the complex business processes involved in material requirements planning (MRP). They are also using the shorter calculation times to produce target-versus-actual comparisons more quickly, and thus for a core element in the calculation of planned costs. The insights thus gained can then flow directly into the adaptation of operational-level business processes. The more precisely you know “which screws need adjusting”, the greater the efficiency gained as a result.
4. Big Data
Big Data is a classic case of a Hana application requiring large data-quantities to be rapidly read, processed and arranged so as to produce instructions for action. Yet the truly new aspect is not the fact that the results are produced faster, but rather that answers are produced to questions that hitherto were not even asked in the form that they are asked now; i.e. it is only through the analysis of results that new working hypotheses emerge in the first place.
Beyond this, manufacturing firms use big-data applications, for instance, to be able to monitor and maintain an overview on the sources and quality of all pre-products. If a call-back is required for certain products, the cause of quality-related problems can be tracked down and eliminated very quickly.
Likewise, in the food and pharmaceutical sectors respectively, it is becoming ever more important to maintain proof of the pre-products’ provenance, so as to be able to fulfil demanding compliance stipulations.
5. Data warehouse and data marts
As regards data warehousing and data marts, the issue is initially one of shaping the SAP infrastructure, one that in many instances consists of several data layers. For instance, the data from round-the-clock manufacturing, constantly being updated, are to be found in the ERP system (SAP ECC).
In many instances there is still a data warehouse available, containing data from the ERP system and from various other sources, in addition to a data mart containing copies of parts of the data warehouse that have been brought together. Consequently, several copies of the data exist that are not synchronized with one another.
The manufacturing data are passed on into the data warehouse overnight at some point in time and – to put it bluntly – by the next morning they have ceased to be up-to-date. With Hana, these problems are a thing of the past. The in-memory database loads all data required from the various sources in a short space of time; they are then available for data-warehousing applications. This produces a higher degree of data reliability and an optimization of the whole information flow, reaching from the data source to the individual application-users at all the company’s levels.
6. Business-process simplifications
A typical business process in a company can require several SAP transactions, with an equally high number of SAP screens. Hana enables this information to be completely consolidated into one single view. This means that all data sources are drawn together for them to be presented at a single place.
For this, Hana uses Fiori, the HTML5-based user-interface technology from SAP. This web-based approach makes it possible to use a link to connect information sourced from various transaction-oriented and analytical applications, and also to refine and to simplify business processes, thereby ultimately raising the employees’ productivity.
When it is a matter of developing specific application-scenarios, it is important to make the business processes the point of approach. A pure consideration of performance at the technical level, one in which the challenge is to achieve more input-output operations per second, to use storage space more efficiently, or to implement batch jobs more quickly, serves as only a single building block in a much more extensive overall concept.
Thus, in the context of a management-consulting approach, Dell addresses the business processes, clarifies individual value-categories, and explains how companies can benefit from such categories by using Hana.
The advantages attainable as a result quickly put in the shade typical TCO savings gained through a consolidation of the IT infrastructure. Based on specific business cases, it becomes evident how quickly an investment can prove itself to be worthwhile. Dell has built up a database with many more than 100 application-scenarios, e.g. for maintance, production, reporting or marketing. There are also templates, some of them made ready in advance, by which an implementation can be effected promptly, according to the 80-20 rule.
Such Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS), certified by SAP, can be put into effect quickly. 80 per cent of the solution is ready from the outset, whereas a mere 20 per cent of it has to be adapted accordingly to a customer’s individual requirements.
The finished all-encompassing Hana solution from Dell, including Hana Appliance or servers, software and service, can initially be tested by a company with its own data, in a proof-of-concept process that uses a cloud hired for this purpose.
Beyond this, Dell supports the IT department or the subject-specialist department respectvely in formulating a business case – including special aspects such as calculation of TCO and ROI, the cash-flow, operation in the customer’s Data Center, or a use of cloud services and also a road-map, stating precise time sequences for all milestones.