In his keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW 2017, Build your Digital Future with Analytic Solutions, Mike Flannagan, SVP for SAP Analytics, spoke about the challenge of two-speed development, or as Gartner coined it— Bimodal IT. “If you want to transform what you’re doing, you can’t just stop and pull over,” said Flannagan. “You have to change the tires while you’re driving on the road. You can’t pull over to innovate or reinvent… [that means] the team is driving at 100 miles an hour while trying to change tires at the same time.”

Setting Up for Change

Bimodal IT can be challenging, especially when innovation needs to happen in the mainstream system or as an add-on to it. When introducing new systems, IT organizations aspire to set up for the bimodal pace by planning for it in advance. Setting up for change is critically important when implementing quickly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Big Data, and modern data analytics. (Learn more about modern BI in Timo Elliott’s blog, Modern BI with SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0)

IT should consider the following when setting up for change:

  1. Can IT decouple the user experience from IT exploration? When the answer is “yes,” business users are shielded from disruption. And IT has the freedom to experiment and test technological options to identify the sweet spot of cost and performance for their use case.
  2. To what extent can IT avoid vendor lock-in?

In the analytics space, setting up for success is more important than ever. As Mike Flannagan reflected in his keynote, IT must protect the investments already made. Forklift upgrade and replace is not an option. And yet with the rapid speed of innovation, it often seems as though a complete re-do is required. Open systems that allow old and new to merge mitigate this risk.

SAP Lumira 2.0 is doing just that with the new Zoomdata data extension. Zoomdata is the world’s fastest visual analytics solution for Big Data. Using its unique data sharpening and micro-query technologies, Zoomdata empowers business users to visually consume data in seconds, across tens of billions of rows of data. SAP is working with Zoomdata to integrate the technology and extend SAP Lumira 2.0 to Big Data and modern data sources. (Watch the video.)

Taming Change? Not Yet!

According to Gartner¹, companies that unlock the potential of digital transformation can leverage their data platform to generate data-driven customer intimacy with faster feedback for quick learning. With the evolving data landscape, IT is constantly racing to unlock this potential while managing the complexity of modern data platforms: Big Data, real-time data, unstructured data, traditional data—in the cloud, hybrid, or on-premise.

The challenge with Big Data is… well… it’s BIG and often varied. Sources of data that were unimaginable to earlier generations are now commonly used. Today, companies can enhance their internal data with social media, weather, credit history, census data, and a wide range of readily available data sets.

For example, these data sets may include the behavior of web visitors, real-time updates on inventory and sales in retail stores, and terabytes of streaming data from sensors in the field. Nevertheless, you typically need teams of IT professionals, data scientists, and lots of patience to derive insights from it. To streamline data processing, MapReduce jobs and R scripts that take days to write and hours to run are replaced with interactive query engines such as Impala, Spark, and others.

In fact, in the past 10 to 15 years we have seen a wide range of new tools (many of them open source) attempting to meet the needs of data-driven organizations. The rapid change in the technology to collect and process data at massive scale has become a trend on its own. New tools have revolutionized the field including:

  • Databases such as Kudu, HBase, Cassandra, MongoDB, and other products loosely known as NoSQL
  • Data processing frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark
  • Query engines such as Apache Impala, Apache Hive, and Presto
  • Stream processing applications such as Storm, Kafka, Flume, Apache NiFi, Amazon Kinesis, and Apex
  • Text indexing such as ElasticSearch, Solr, and Cloudera Search

This field continues to see significant change because querying and merging Big Data and real-time data require a completely different paradigm than querying and merging transactional data. Regardless of data type, size, source or underlying technology, all these complexities must be managed by the visual platform to deliver visual analytics in a wide variety of formats and devices.

Zoomdata visualizes data from the broadest range of big data and modern data sources

No wonder IT continues to ramp up investment. Gartner indicates that top performers spend the highest amount of new and discretionary funding on BI and analytics. Avoiding vendor lock-in and decoupling user experience from the underlying technology are key considerations for IT as they evolve their data platforms to take advantage of new technologies.

The collaboration with Zoomdata supports this approach. Zoomdata’s streaming approach to querying and visualizing data allows for visual analysis of huge datasets in seconds. At the same time, Zoomdata’s micro services architecture and data-in-place strategy eliminates vendor lock-in.

Cloud! Loud and Clear

The TechTarget IT Priorities 2017 survey² found that in 2017, 64 % of respondents predicted they would increase their budget for cloud services— including computing, storage and applications— more than any other area. More than ever, access to data is facilitated by cloud providers, which centralize and feed data to analytical tools. Cloud providers have optimized much of the underlying infrastructure required for storing and querying Big Data by offering scalable and cost-effective datastores such as Amazon’s Redshift, Google’s BigQuery and Cloud Spanner, Microsoft’s HDInsight, and SAP Cloud Platform.

As data storage and processing moves to the cloud or to a hybrid cloud/on-premise environment, visual analytics must follow to connect, scale, and leverage the cost efficiencies. Cost efficiency and change can backfire if business users are continuously disrupted. Zoomdata and SAP Lumira enable an intuitive user experience that shields the user from complexity and disruption.

Mitigate the Risk

Changing technology leads to an evolving modern data platform for storing and processing new data types with increased cost effectiveness. Both the quick pace at which data requirements change and the pressure to lower costs drive organizations to experiment with these new technologies and adopt them at a higher rate than previously.

Bimodal IT prepares IT for a successful production rollout, allowing it to scale Big Data platforms slowly while testing initial use cases and experimenting with technologies. When decoupled from the user experience, IT can plug in the technology backend once it hits the sweet spot. Whether you’re exploring the cloud, new data types, modern processing technologies or a mix of all three, designing a bimodal IT plan ensures that today’s investment won’t be obsolete tomorrow.

Learn More

¹Gartner CIO agenda –
²TechTarget IT priorities 2017 –