Last week, SAP took what it called a “Data Moment,” and a bit more, to introduce SAP Datasphere, a data management solution that promises to simplify and speed data integration, access, and governance across Cloud, hybrid, and on-premises SAP and non-SAP systems and environments.
During an ASUG news briefing, general press briefing, and high-profile webinar announcements last week—the latter shared live at ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA and Business Technology Platform (BTP) Conference—SAP leaders variously characterized SAP Datasphere as one of the company’s “biggest launches,” the next generation of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, and a “complete rethink” of its data management approach, especially given SAP partner involvement from the outset.
Hidden Data Tax
Juergen Mueller, SAP Chief Technology Officer, said Datasphere’s semantics engine “provides the context to have any data, from any source, make sense.”
Julia White, SAP Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer, said Datasphere aims to reduce or eliminate the “hidden data tax” of time and expense involved when organizations need to extract, rebuild, integrate, harness, and manage data, during and after a project.
Mueller further noted that the solution’s scalable “business data fabric” tackles customer needs that include:
- Self-service access to trusted business data, delivering data that is consumable for business users.
- Data governance, privacy, and compliance, which is built into the architecture itself, not as another layer of extra complexity.
- Real-time data to facilitate operational apps in action with insights and analytics across hybrid and multicloud.
- “And maybe the most important topic coming up all the time is that all organizations, our customers, want to simplify their ever-growing, ever more complex data landscape to reduce cost, technical depth, and also, risk, for example, associated to data privacy.”
Indeed, SAP Datasphere’s debut and leadership positioning aims to tackle ASUG member challenges reported in the 2023 Pulse of the SAP Customer research. Among those data points:
- Nearly half (45%) of the research participants said integration between SAP and non-SAP systems is a top focus area for 2023.
- Integration is generally a top challenge for 32% of organizations in the study.
- Master data maintenance and governance also is a top challenge, as 32% of organizations cited this issue.
For more ASUG Pulse data and insights, visit https://asug.postclickmarketing.com/Pulse-SAP-Customer-2023.
Do It Right
In early reactions to the SAP news, Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Application Consulting and veteran SAP analyst, pointed out, “Curating and accessing strategic enterprise data has always been one of the most important and most potentially fraught components of any business transformation.”
“Do it right, and you’ve unlocked important value for your company and its strategic processes,” Greenbaum continued. “Do it wrong, and you’ve just opened Pandora’s box. Enabling customers to do this accurately and safely, while maintaining the business context of their data, especially across heterogeneous data sources, is a big win.”
Built on SAP BTP
SAP Datasphere is generally available; existing SAP Data Warehouse customers will be upgraded to this “first iteration” of SAP Datasphere, SAP said. Built on SAP BTP, SAP Datasphere adds data discovery, data cataloging for detailed data lineage, simplified data integration features with change-data-capture, a multidimensional modeling experience, data distribution capabilities, analytics, and consistent user interface, according to SAP.
JG Chirapurath, Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer, SAP BTP, said SAP Datasphere will help “data professionals: data engineers, data scientists, database analysts, anyone who’s in the process of extracting, transforming, loading, managing semantic relationships” and is “challenged with how to effectively share it” for business transformation and business process and application integration.
In addition to SAP Datasphere’s inherent capabilities developed over the last year, Chirapurath emphasized the importance of the “open data ecosystem” of partners, and the initial four included in the news. SAP Datasphere is integrated with:
- Databricks analytics solution and Data Lakehouse data warehouse
- Confluent real-time analytics and decision-making tools
- Collibra SAP and non-SAP metadata management and governance solutions
- DataRobot multimodal machine learning capabilities
Additional partners and functionality are expected in the future.
SAP Partner Importance
Both David Wascom, ASUG SVP of Executive Programs, and Greenbaum noted the strategic importance of building the partner ecosystem.
“SAP is building an approach and partners that should provide SAP customers with a much more holistic data management solution that lets them access and manage data effectively and consistently from SAP and non-SAP systems,” Wascom said.
Yet, Wascom added, there still may be challenges. “The biggest questions I have is how do customers manage all of the pieces/parts that the partner solutions bring into the mix?” he added.
According to Greenbaum, “The partnerships are an indication that SAP understands the importance of having a vibrant ecosystem of partners, especially smaller, boutique partners that have the specialized talent and customer focus that is often lacking in the larger firms.”
Chirapurath said several current SAP customers are in trials with SAP Datasphere. In press discussions, SAP included David Johnston, CIO at Messer Americas, an industrial gasses supplier well underway with SAP Datasphere.
Johnston said SAP Datasphere supports a longtime corporate mantra to “always go straight to the source for the data,” harmonizing the organization’s data from SAP and non-SAP systems with trusted data and consistent context.
“We can make smarter decisions, must quicker,” Johnston noted. “We’ve seen self-service data access growth,” with “IT now more of a steering and data governance” resource for the business.