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April 05, 2013
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Integrating Apache Hadoop and SAP

With any enterprise software implementation, the challenge is often the integration of a chosen system with existing enterprise systems architecture. One such existing investment may be an ERP (and related) systems such as those provided by SAP. In this real-world instance, SAP partnered with Hortonworks to enable integration of Apache Hadoop into SAP Real-Time Data Platforms using Hortonworks Data Platform to facilitate business intelligence and analysis of Big Data.

The business challenges at hand will be familiar to everyone and are a great fit for a Hadoop solution. These are:

  • Data does not fit neatly in a relational format. The customer gathers more than one hundred million surveys each year. The most valuable data is in the “comments” field which is unstructured and therefore not analyzed.
  • The business cannot view data across departments. Customer training data, for example, is not typically joined across departments with the call center’s CRM application to help tailor a support call to the customer’s expertise.
  • Even if custom solutions are built to handle free-form, unstructured data like comment fields, and custom logic associates training and certification data with CRM data, there is no model to deal with the next unstructured data set or join together previously unrelated data in a powerful manner.


The customer – a major hardware manufacturer – has operated on the combination of the SAP ERP application, Oracle RAC, and SAP Sybase® IQ software for years. The company’s business processes, from customer relationship management (CRM) to inventory management, manufacturing, and fulfillment, all run on SAP software. Oracle RAC supports the system’s transactional data flow, and SAP analytics solutions are used to analyze and report on data stored in SAP Sybase IQ. This two-database architecture helps improve throughput by separating out transactional and analytic workloads.The company chose to implement Hortonworks Data Platform to refine previously unstructured data sets and to begin to explore the relationships among previously unrelated data. Within the first half of the year, these explorations proved valuable. Today, the company enriches the view of the customer over time and across systems to improve customer satisfaction, leading to improved retention and repeat business.

New business capabilities that this enables include automatic support escalation, improved customer records, better customer insight and improved customer support.

We want to thank our partner SAP for documenting this with us. For more SAP and Hortonworks use cases, business impacts, architectural patterns and reference architectures, get the whitepaper: Combining SAP Real-Time Data Platform with Hortonworks Data Platform.


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