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SAP pitches Vora to bridge the big data gap

Australian flags fly at half-mast atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a sign of respect for those killed in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crashAustralian flags fly at half-mast atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a sign of respect for those killed in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash

The world has been drowning in talk about big data, the massive troves of information churned out by sensors, engines, and other machinery. That information can be very useful to businesses but there’s been a divide between that often-formless data and the more structured, traditional data that resides in a company’s databases, inventory, or sales systems.

SAP (SAP) proposes to bridge that divide with Vora, an in-memory query processor that plugs into Spark, open-source software that developers and data scientists use to ask questions of all that data.

Apache Spark is open source (free) technology geared to speed up data queries of unstructured data, but the goal of Vora is to augment, not displace, Spark said Steve Lucas, president of SAP’s Platform Products Group. Vora, slated to ship this month, proposes to speed up queries to a company’s various “data lakes” he told Fortune.

A big part of the product’s appeal will be that it plugs into both Hadoop/Spark ecosystems and into transactional data sources, including SAP HANA. “We embracing Hadoop and Spark and bringing the online transaction processing world together with them,” Lucas said.

Why the name? Vora was selected because it’s the Latin root for “voracious,” the implication being that Vora can consume large amounts of data, according to an SAP spokeswoman.

To be clear, the use of SAP HANA, the focal point of the company’s software push, is something SAP would recommend, but is not required. “We think Vora works well without HANA, but even better (natch!) with HANA, ” he said.

SAP’s Vora plugs into existing Apache Ambari console so developers can keep using their tools of choice.

SAP, a leader in enterprise software, is addressing a key need of big companies that want to query both their existing data warehouses and Hadoop data, ” said Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner.

“SAP was smart to build it on Spark which is the loudest parade in town right now and very programmer focused,” Neudecker added.

One potential downside to Vora is that lot of the programmers in this field have an affinity for open-source software and SAP, is definitively a commercial software company which means it likes to be paid for its software. It will make a free developer version of Vora available on Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, but it cannot be deployed in production. Otherwise, commercial-use Vora will be priced on a subscription model with an 18-month term.

IDC research vice president Carl Olofson said Vora will let companies optimize their Hortonworks (HDP) Hadoop and make it more like a corporate database in terms of queries and query performance.

Other tech vendors are working on federated data query across different data platforms, but Olofson said the most direct competitors to Vora would be from data analytics companies like Platfora and Zaloni.

For more on SAP’s big data strategy, check out the video below.

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