HP, SAP Team Up for BI

The accord with HP is very similar to a partnership that SAP notched six months ago with Teradata. Its similarity raises questions.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) last week teamed up with applications giant SAP AG to promote the future benefits of running SAP's NetWeaver business intelligence (BI) stack on top of HP's Neoview data warehousing platform.

The HP deal, which SAP describes as an "expansion" of an existing relationship, marks the second such partnership between SAP and a major DW provider in the last six months. In late April, SAP teamed up with Teradata Corp. to promote a similar arrangement. HP, meanwhile, teamed up with Informatica Corp. recently to promote a joint data integration (DI) partnership; that accord involved both Neoview and HP's broader BI and DW services arms.

The agreement with HP is similar to a partnership that SAP signed six months ago with Teradata. Its similarity begs a few pressing questions, however. For example, the partnership between SAP and HP -- like that between SAP and Teradata -- addresses a common pain point: getting data out of SAP and into a non-SAP DW platform. In the case of the Teradata partnership, officials could cite dozens -- if not hundreds -- of joint deployments. SAP and HP talked up thousands of joint accounts, too, but HP officials were much more equivocal on the subject of joint SAP-Neoview deployments.

"There are almost 1,000 [joint] customers right now that have SAP capability being managed or delivered by HP in some kind of a services arrangement, so there's obviously a healthy appetite across that customer base as they look to evolve or scale their business intelligence environments," says Kristina Robinson, vice president and general manager for business intelligence solutions with HP.

Robinson declined to disclose specifically how many of these accounts are running Neoview, however. "We [have] a number of existing Neoview customers who actually pushed us both hard to get this agreement done and get the integration plan completed. I don't have specific names … but I can tell you that there's a very healthy appetite for this in the [Neoview] user community, and frankly [there are] a lot of prospects that are out there."

There's also the nagging question of framing. Inasmuch as both HP and SAP agree that Neoview is a core component (if not the centerpiece) of the new alliance, how does this impact SAP's pitch with its NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW) Accelerator? SAP markets that product as an in-memory analytic appliance that helps accelerate NetWeaver BW performance. To a degree, that's similar to HP's pitch with Neoview -- i.e., an analytic database and query accelerator par excellence. Is SAP concerned about Neoview somehow compromising its pitch with the NetWeaver BW accelerator?

Not at all, says Fran Aman, vice president of intelligence platform product marketing with SAP. The partnerships with both Teradata and HP complement rather than undercut SAP's pitch with the NetWeaver BI Accelerator, Aman maintains. He positions Neoview -- like Teradata -- as a strategic platform play; the NetWeaver accelerator, on the other hand, is more of a tactical offering, designed to address immediate performance pain points.

"Where Neoview is most effectively positioned in terms of this solution set is where there is a set of requirements that require a robustness of platform: customers that are looking for scalability in terms of numerous data sources, customers that are looking [to support] a much broader range of users, and customers that are really deploying this kind of capability in terms of a mission-critical function in this environment," he observes.

"I would view [Neoview] as much more aligned to the more rigorous platform than as a pure appliance. Candidly, there are a lot of customers out there that are looking for good alternatives to scale what they're doing."

Broadly speaking, Aman continues, SAP's partnerships with both Teradata and HP are concerned with getting the most data to as many users as possible. Although both Teradata and Neoview boast formidable analytic performance, they're also designed to support enormous DW configurations. That's perhaps their biggest value add to SAP customers, Aman contends.

"We are concerned with how you make the data available at the end of the day to an end user. You have to start acquiring data and get it from different places. In order to get it into a state where you can analyze it, you [have] to have that incredibly powerful database platform that is scalable and reliable. Right then and there, this is where Neoview gives us a huge leg up over conventional databases," he says.

"From a BI consumption [perspective], there's an additional step you have to take, and that has to do with how you organize the data for certain types of access. If you have data resident in memory, you can be so much faster than you can be off of any database or hard disk. This is where you get billions of rows of data within sub-second response time. We see [the BW Accelerator as] very much complementary to the underlying database capability. BW then provides that acceleration for BI consumption."

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