August 31, 2016

Altiscale Deal Would Boost SAP Hadoop Offerings

George Leopold

In a bid to enhance its enterprise cloud software offerings with expanded Hadoop services, SAP is reportedly acquiring big data analytics startup Altiscale Inc.

The web site VentureBeat.com reported late last week that SAP (NYSE: SAP) is finalizing details of the acquisition estimated to be valued at more than $125 million. Citing a source familiar with the negotiations, a deal could be announced in “the next weeks.”

Altiscale, Palo Alto, Calif., did not respond to a request to comment. An SAP spokeswoman said Wednesday (Aug. 31) the company does not comment on market speculation.

If as expected the transaction closes, it would extend SAP’s reach into the Hadoop ecosystem. For example, it added a new in-memory query engine to SAP HANA last year to boost interactive analytics capabilities running on Hadoop along with other new cloud platform services. The SAP HANA Vora software is designed to target distributed data to provide contextual awareness while improving “business process awareness” across enterprise applications and analytics, the company said.

Meanwhile, Altiscale announced its Insight Cloud platform earlier this year essentially providing a superset of the most commonly requested Hadoop capabilities around data ingest, transformation and analysis.

The new cloud-based analytics platform illustrates Altiscale’s attempt to simplify the options without compromising on functionality. The service is composed of a Web-based user interface that front-ends Oozie for data ingestion and Spark SQL for analysis. Altiscale delivered some of its own basic transformation capabilities, but it recommended that customers write Spark scripts for more complex transformations since Apache Spark, by itself, helps simplify Hadoop functions.

All these capabilities along with the deep Hadoop roots of Altiscale’s Founder and CEO Raymie Stata, who helped deploy Hadoop at Yahoo, would make the company attractive to SAP as its seeks to offer its own distributions of big data platforms like Hadoop.

In addition to a cloud implementation of Hadoop, Altiscale also provides a cloud version of Apache Spark.

In parallel with the anticipated acquisition of Alttiscale, SAP has been positioning it Vora query engine as a way to conduct online analytical processing directly on large datasets using in-memory technology and stored in Hadoop. Previously, SAP said, mining large datasets for contextual information using Hadoop was a challenge.

Despite its ability to store and access huge data volumes at lower cost, Hadoop “is not as well suited to the fast, drill-down nature of today’s business questions,” SAP noted. Vora leverages data hierarchies that enable OLAP analysis of Hadoop data along with enhancements in Spark SQL to help improve analytics “across all the data in enterprise applications, data warehouses, data lakes and edge sensors,” the company claimed.

Nevertheless, industry observers said Altiscale’s deep Hadoop expertise would help SAP address emerging big data market segments, freeing customers from relying on third-party vendors.

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