Note: Part II of this blog explains new engines and use cases for SAP HANA VORA

What is SAP HANA VORA?

SAP HANA VORA (hereafter referred to as “VORA”) is an SQL-on-Hadoop solution. It was initially developed as a big data solution to provide an OLAP-like environment for big data analysis, so companies can incorporate big data to their existing BI system. VORA runs as one service in the Hadoop ecosystem (Fig.1) and boosts the performance of Spark. On top of that, VORA can read data from SAP HANA to Spark and it can write tables back to HANA as well (Bi-directional). Prior to VORA, this was not possible. HANA data had to be physically moved to Hadoop’s distributed file system (HDFS) to run analysis using both data sources.

SAP HANA VORA

Figure 1: SAP VORA in Hadoop Ecosystem

What are the components in VORA?

First, VORA has web user-interface called, “VORA tools”. VORA tools have 3 components; data browser, SQL editor, and data modeler. Having a web UI provides a similar analysis environments for BI analysts and eliminates the need to learn new scripting languages such as Java, Python or Scala. With VORA tools, analysts can import and analyze data easily with data modeler and query them using SQL. Thus, for analysts who are not familiar with terminal shell scripts or scripting language options in Spark but are familiar with creating data models in HANA, VORA will require no learning curve for them.

SAP HANA VORA 1

Figure 2: Features of VORA

Additionally, VORA includes the list of pre-written Scala codes to preform business functions such as currency conversion, hierarchies, and units of measurement. Having these common business functions ready to use reduces time spent for data modeling. In many of the big data analytic scenarios, views created in data modelers (join, union or aggregations) and queries alone can generate good data insights since the data is huge. Figure 3 shows how datasets can be loaded and joined using VORA tools compared to doing them in Spark.

SAP HANA VORA 2

Figure 3: Reading and join datasets using Pyspark (left) vs VORA tools (right)

Where can I deploy VORA?

SAP HANA VORA can be deployed in various platforms such as Hortonworks, Cloudera, MAPR or Amazon EMR. There is a test drive available for VORA developer 1.2. Test drive is deployed in Hortonworks and Zeppelin is pre-installed. Each test drive lasts for 3 hours with no fees.

VORA developer 1.2 is also available through SAP cloud library. Using VORA through AWS requires an Amazon Web Service(AWS) account with a fee of (.51 cents/hour). Both versions come with demo data sets and demo notebooks so you can test VORA’s basic features.

Table 1 summarizes the purchase options for VORA developer, SAP VORA and VORA enterprise.

License TypeVORA DeveloperSAP VORAVORA Enterprise
CostFree
  • Subscription-based pricing
  • 24-month term license
  • Based on number of nodes per year
  • Subscription-based pricing
  • 24-month term license
  • Based on number of nodes per year
AvailabilityCloud onlyOn premise and cloudOn premise and cloud
ProviderSAP HANA Cloud: AWS (Infra cost applies)Same as developer edition plus on premiseSame as developer edition plus on premise
SupportCommunity supportSAP supportSAP support
Pros and cons“Not deployable to production environment”
  • Full use
  • Named license and could be a limitation for data lake
  • Full use (no named license required)
  • Costly Solution

What is the newest version?

With the recent release of SAP HANA VORA, Version 1.3 (Dec.19th 2016), security is improved to the enterprise level by requiring user login for VORA tools. VORA manager server is now available to monitor server status and check the configuration details. Regarding updates in VORA tools, drop down buttons are added to create VORA tables intuitively instead of writing SQL scripts. Other features include parent-child hierarchy, data preview, and calculated columns.

In the next series, VORA’s new processing engines; Time series, Graph, and Document-store engines will be covered to demonstrate VORA’s various data handling capabilities.

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