31.03.2016 / Tuomas Autio

Hadoop is the new black, no doubt about it. Hadoop ecosystem is taking its place as a standard component in the enterprise architectures side-by-side with ERPs and other standard components. Hadoop enables modern data architecture and ability to create analytical applications on top of enterprises data.

 

It is no secret: Hadoop is not easy! Good thing is that as it grows more mature all the time, we are seeing more and more automated and out-of-the-box solutions for data transfer, analytics, administration, operations – and deployment.

 

Deploying and configuring Hadoop cluster can be a very complex task when done and optimized correctly. Gladly there are today several tools and platforms which can make this process significantly easier, reduce risks and components which you have to maintain yourself. I will introduce just a few options, which I have tried out myself.

 

Azure Marketplace and Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP)

 

I was very surprised of the Cloudbreak’s capabilities earlier last year already when trying it out, but Azure surprised me even more – even though the idea and the functionalities are not exactly the same. Launching a standardized Hadoop environment for test or pilot purposes has never been this easy – at least for me! It is in theory as easy for production use, but you do need to plan your architecture a bit more to match your use cases even though this is a highly-automated IaaS/PaaS type of cloud environment.

 

“The Hortonworks and Microsoft relationship has enabled a seamless implementation of Apache Hadoop on Azure.”

 

What I really needed was just an Azure account and a ssh-rsa key, which I got in 5 minutes. New Azure users even get a 30-days free trial with some funny money budget, which is enough to deploy a 5-node HDP cluster in Azure with 8Tb of disk per node. The deployment process itself is fully automated. Obviously you want to select the subscription, number and size of nodes etc. when doing anything more than evaluating the product and the process.

 

Psst. There are also other options than Hortonworks HDP available in Azure Marketplace – but my choice is HDP as it is THE Hadoop platform and the only one committed to being 100 % open.

 

Cloudbreak

 

Hortonworks acquired SequenceIQ in 2015. This acquisition provides Hortonworks technology which can automate Hadoop cluster deployment process to public or private cloud environments. It has nice features such as policy-based auto-scaling on the major cloud platforms including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and OpenStack, as well as platforms that support Docker containers.

 

hadoop cloudbreak

 

I had chance to see Cloudbreak live in action already in Hadoop Summit June 2015. To be honest it looked too good to be true. It was my turn to try Cloudbreak hands-on in Hortonworks Masterclass in Stockholm later 2015:  It is easier than it even sounds! Main requirements are really that you need a Cloudbreak installation, you pick a blueprint, choose a cloud and deploy! Now this baby is a permanent part of our own on-premises solutions. I warmly recommend everyone to try it out!

 

If you want hear more about HDP Hadoop, Modern Data Architecture and Azure Marketplace you may like these blog-posts:

Mikko Mattila: Hadoop – IKEA of the IT ecosystem: Part 1
Mikko Mattila: Hadoop – IKEA of the IT ecosystem: Part 2
Mikko Mattila: Hadoop – IKEA of the IT ecosystem: Part 3
Mikko Mattila: Hadoop – IKEA of the IT ecosystem: Part 4


16.03.2016 / Jani Liimatta

SQL Serveristä julkaistaan tuotapikaa uusi versio, SQL Server 2016. Hurraa. Ajattelin vetäistä BI-lasit päähän ja katsella joitain uusia ominaisuuksia tietovarastoinnin näkökulmasta.

Stretch database on yksi kuumimmista uusista ominaisuuksista. Idea on, että tietokantaa voi helposti laajentaa Azure:n puolelle. Kuulostaa otsikkotasolla hienolta. Valitettavasti totuus ei ole aivan niin ruusuinen, kuin ominaisuuden nimestä voisi päätellä.

Ensinnäkin, Stretch-ominaisuus on määriteltävä jokaiselle taululle erikseen. On kirjoitettava funktio, joka määrittelee, mitä dataa Azure:en kirjoitetaan (tai annettava SQL Serverin päättää, mitä dataa Azureen kirjoitetaan). Esimerkiksi nyt vaikka tapahtumalajin perusteella voidaan määrittää, että harvemmin tarvittavat tapahtumat tallennetaan Azureen. Toiminnallisuuden nimestä voisi äkkinäinen päätellä, että ominaisuuden saisi päälle esim. filegroup-perusteisesti – mutta ei.

Toinen ongelma on, että tauluun, jolle Stretch on määritelty, ei pysty kirjoittamaan UPDATE tai DELETE-komentoja. On myös paljon muita rajoitteita, jotka on otettava taulun rakenteessa huomioon.
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt605114.aspx

Ja kun kaivelemme toiminnallisuutta hieman syvemmälle, huomataan että kyseessä onkin itse asiassa SQL Server Linked Server, joka luodaan tätä toiminnallisuutta varten. Ja taustalla luodaan tietokanta luonnollisesti Azureen.
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt163698.aspx
SQL Server kirjoittaa sitten tehtyjen määrittelyiden mukaisesti dataa LinkedServerin kautta Azureen.

Julkaistavaan versioon ei ole tullut juuri mitään uutta tämän suhteen sitten viime syksyn. Siksi en ala tekemään step-by-step-ohjeita aiheesta, niitä on netti pullollaan, vaikkapa tässä: http://sqlperformance.com/2015/08/sql-server-2016/intro-stretch-database

No mitä hyötyä tästä sitten on? No, tietovarastomaailmassa ei juuri mitään! On itse asiassa yksinkertaisempaa, joustavampaa ja suorituskykyisempää esimerkiksi
– Kirjoittaa ETL:ssä historiadata Azureen perustuen päivämääriin (tai vaikka niihin tapahtumalajeihin). Eli toteuttaa Azure:en kirjoituslogiikka ETL:ssä.
– Tai siirtää historiaa aika ajoin Azureen automatisoidusti lokaaleista tapahtumatauluista
– Ja tarvittaessa luoda LinkedServer lokaaliin SQL Serveriin ja yhdistää Azure- ja lokaali data näkymässä

Tällöin selvitään käytännössä ilman niitä rajoitteita, joita Stretch Database-ominaisuudella on… Kaiken lisäksi edellä kuvattu on ollut mahdollista jo edellisilläkin SQL Server-versioilla. Toisaalta Stretch helpottaa Azuren käyttöönottoa ja laskutus perustuu blob-storageen, jonka pitäisi olla halpa, mutta mielestäni nuo preview-hinnatkaan eivät ole kovin edullisia. Taitaa omissa BI-projekteissani jäädä toistaiseksi Stretch käytämättä.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/sql-server-stretch-database/


14.03.2016 / Mika Tanner

This year’s SAP Innovation Forum is behind us. Bilot took center stage and managed to attract the vast majority of the 600+ attendants to its Full-stack Commerce stand. Less visible to the general audience was the VIP Breakfast event we hosted before the actual keynote speeches rang out in the large auditorium.

This year’s breakfast plot was about bridging together three levels of reality:

  • The dynamics of digitalization and competitiveness
  • Business transformation and IT on a company level
  • Foresight into practical digital business

 

IMG_0735
Digitalization for Breakfast: Jani Puroranta, Turkka Keskinen, Mika Tanner & Pekka Ala-Pietila

 

Pekka Ala-Pietilä (member of SAP SE Supervisory Board) took a stab at the first topic from a macrosystem perspective to provide the breakfast plot with a suitable high-level framework. The winners of the digital game are those who understand the dynamics of the ecosystem and the power of the platform.

“The winner is the one that is the fastest and most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

Industries are converging, time-to-profit is accelerated and the leadership paradigm is shifting. The engine of growth consists of four cylinders (user experience, compelling business model, technological superiority and cost competitiveness) where the combustion of innovation as the fuel. The dynamics of competition is played on either a vertical dimension or a horizontal. Ala-Pietilä wrapped up his insightful narrative with a clear call-for-action. For the ecosystem to have opportunities to develop and grow, the market must invest in development to generate a pull effect. Sufficient suction to pull innovation out of the ecosystem into the market and into use.

With this excellent back-drop, Turkka Keskinen (CIO of Biofore giant UPM) described how business transformation and digitalization co-exist. UPM’s ten year transformation has been staggering. It has reshaped itself from and integrated paper company to a collection of growing new businesses. By doing so, the company managed to defer the decline in revenues, double its operating income, halve its net debt, nearly double its productivity and exceed its long-term return targets in nearly all six businesses. Keskinen structured UPM’s IT strategy with an Ironman analogy – The Triathlon. The three disciplines are Build, Run and Transform.

“IT supports Biofore by Digiforce” – Turkka Keskinen

IT has an essential role in UPM’s business development, IT forms the backbone for business operations and it is an important cornerstone in implementing strategy. IT must be able to provide a coherent framework for the development of capabilities which provides maximum business continuity, ensures efficient portfolio practices and doesn’t compromise agility. IT development fundamentals didn’t have to be reinvented: doing things right and doing the right things.

Bilot’s Jani Puroranta (Head of an Amazing Offering) took a very practical stance and illustrated by means of meaningful business examples the gap between Digitalization in dreams and in practice. The discussion scope was digital, omnichannel commerce. Business priorities drive IT solutions – Jani selected relevant and topical drivers to illustrate how Bilot’s full-stack commerce framework provides a state-of-the-art solution. He showed four use cases which have direct business benefit: contextual merchandizing, fast routine orders and searchandizing, live scheduling and synchronized logistics and margin management. All four use cases have a strong impact on topline revenue and operating income.

“Digital Commerce Success is more than just fancy webshops” – Jani Puroranta

Harnessing data and understanding customer behavior is the first step in building a world-class commerce solution. Bilot’s full-stack commerce is of course just one example of how companies can amplify and secure their competitiveness. It nevertheless closed the loop to Ala-Pietilä’s rhetoric and hooked into Keskinen’s narrative on UPM IT Triathlon, which is all about transforming, building and running.

The three discussions confirmed my hypothesis of how the IT market is evolving. As a contradiction to the widely spread simplification theme, in fact the IT game (and business technology landscape) is becoming more complex. Perhaps a better term is ‘more sophisticated’ because control has also improved. Enterprise solution landscapes are not entirely cloudified yet and the emergence of increasingly compelling and even disruptive software solutions beckons insightful decision-making on architecture and eco-systems.

For a while it looked like platform dominance (the classical definition that is) was a genuinely possible scenario. But innovation, competition and technological progress has kept the game very dynamic. Also the outsourcing (and off-shoring) trend is reaching maturity and there is evidence of on-shoring. Especially in the large enterprise category, companies’ IT partner/vendor strategy is undergoing a renaissance towards a more conscious segmentation of vendors into two or three categories.

In addition to an undisputed need for scalable global (RUN) solutions for AMS and infrastructure, the need for application development (TRANSFORM) and early adoption (BUILD) partners has re-surfaced.

IT vendors must be able to adapt to a multi-vendor environment where the joint-mission is to provide long-term customer value. This heterogeneous partner lay-out is the new platform – which means platform equals ecosystem.


11.03.2016 / Janne Vihervuori

Hasso Plattner, the co-founder of SAP, did reveal that the “R” in the 90’s launched R/3 meant real-time. The only issue was that the 90’s, and even 2010’s technology did not allow ERP software to process the tasks in real-time. SAP’s current release of S/4HANA Enterprise Management does not yet fulfill Hasso’s original promise of real-time operations but brings it closer to reality than to the overall batch mode nature of old R/3.

Now that SAP has released the full scope of its new ERP generation; customers are facing the challenge when and how to move onto S/4HANA. However, there are structured ways and methods available to prepare and execute this move without any harmful interference with the daily business and to ongoing IT and business projects.

There are three steps to go to S/4HANA: Awareness, Roadmap (Including Scope), and Transition.

In the beginning, there is a need for Awareness about the changes to come with S/4HANA and the impacts of IT and business processes. On the one hand, Awareness means knowledge about the new product strategy coming with S/4HANA. In general S/4HANA does provide at least the same functional scope as existing SAP ERP. However, with the new product SAP will also implement new functionalities and will change existing functions within the digital core. Those changes might require actions to be taken before any move onto S/4HANA. Just one small example: existing WM will not be maintained anymore with S/4HANA and is to be replaced by eWM. So all customers still using WM should move onto eWM now – but at least before an upgrade onto S/4HANA.

On the other hand, with S/4HANA SAP is renovating their existing Business Suite products besides SAP ERP as well. Some other core products such as APO will not stay the same in future. Parts of APO – the planning components – will be integrated into S/4HANA digital core. Some other parts will be shifted to the cloud. Particularly for customers using parts of SAP APO only, this gives the opportunity to get rid of the separate APO system and bring back all relevant processes into the digital core system.

One important aspect of the overall SAP ecosystem is extending the Digital Core, the S/4HANA. SAP is changing their product strategy from on-premise to the cloud, as in the case of traditional Business Suite CRM and Cloud for Customer. SAP Hybris, SuccessFactors, and other new-wave products are extending the SAP Digital Core. HANA Cloud Platform is the de-facto extension platform of S/4HANA.

When the Awareness about all impacts and strategic changes of S/4HANA is reached, the next step is to plan and define the scope of the S/4HANA upgrade roadmap. In this step, questions how, when and into which future landscape the upgrade shall be done. The upgrade project or program to S/4HANA may also fit other already planned and running IT projects. As a result, there will be a future Roadmap with all relevant information about projects over the next years including S/4HANA upgrade and with definitions about the approach, timeline, and rough cost estimation.

Moreover, last but not least the transition itself may start. The Transition does contain all relevant projects for the preparation of the S/4HANA migration such as housekeeping projects, data cleansing, newGL implementation, landscape transformation and consolidation projects, etc. and – of course – the S/4HANA migration project itself. The transition phase is usually not only one single project but many smaller projects affecting each other.

Stay here on this blog to learn more about the single steps and phases for your individual move to S/4HANA. Our next blog will uncover the first step, Awareness, in a detailed fashion.

 

This Blog is co-authored by Lorenz Praefcke and Janne Vihervuori.

 

 

Lorenz Praefcke

‎Director, Business Development

cbs Corporate Business Solutions GmbH

M +49 174 3438585, lorenz.praefcke@cbs-consulting.de

Lorenz Praefcke - cbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janne Vihervuori

Business Lead, Business Applications

Bilot Consulting Oy

M +358 40 5212444, janne.vihervuori@bilot.fi

Janne Vihervuori - Bilot


7.03.2016 / Janne Vihervuori

Full Stack Development

Who is the most sought-after digital service project team member? The answer: a Full Stack Developer. Why is this role so important? The various IT layers, like frontend design, backend programming, database and virtualization can be straightforward and manageable as individual components, but mastering them as Full Stack is a virtue of rare talent. Heroes of Full Stack development are behind the many internet services we use daily.

SAP Commerce

The early SAP Commerce solutions +15 years ago were mainly custom product search and basket applications. Then, SAP developed Internet Sales that evolved into an acronym called WCEM. When the Web Channel of the WCEM turned into the power word Omni-Channel, SAP purchased the leading Commerce solution provider hybris a couple of years ago. Omni-Channel has now evolved into delivering individualized, meaningful and valuable customer engagement experiences across every Touchpoint, and the current SAP Hybris suite contains products e.g. Profile and Merchandizing for intelligent and real-time user profiling and maximizing turnover. SAP Commerce 2016 is about monetizing digital transformation in novel ways.

Implementing SAP Commerce

Like building a house, you have to have a solid foundation to build on top the SAP Commerce. The superior SAP Commerce customer experience is provided by a Full Stack of layers. In SAP ecosystem, one of the foundation layers is always the trustworthy ERP, or nowadays the new S/4HANA Digital Core. The SAP Hybris suite products are located above the foundation layers. Moving up the layers; analytics provides insight for data scientists, and predictive analytics automates the online personalization functions. Integration, Product Information, and Master Data services glue these layers together. The top layers create the various customer-facing touchpoints for delivering the wow moments.

Full Stack SAP Commerce

Full Stack SAP is very different from generic Full Stack. The heroes in the first chapter would be lost in the world of corporate enterprise solution stack, mainly because of the context that hides yet still contains so much complexity and all its layers. Let’s take just one thing out of the context: pricing is one of the most crucial elements of any Commerce solution. Sometimes it is required to revamp the good ole’ ERP pricing to support the Commerce business without harming the ongoing business. There are not too many players in the SAP Commerce vendor field who can honestly claim to master Full Stack SAP Commerce and, more importantly, adapt the Full Stack to market demands. Bilot has been implementing Full Stack SAP Commerce solutions to their clients from day one.


3.03.2016 / Janne Vihervuori

Full Stack -kehittäminen

Kuka on halutuin digitaalisten palvelujen kehittämisen projektiryhmän jäsen? Vastaus: Full Stack -kehittäjä. Miksi tämä rooli on niin tärkeä? IT-ratkaisut koostuvat eri kerroksista, kuten käyttöliittymän suunnittelu, palvelinohjelmointi, tietokanta ja virtualisointi. Yksittäisen kerroksen hallinta voi olla parhaimmillaan jopa triviaalia, mutta koko pinon – Full Stack – hallitseminen on harvinaista osaamista. Tällaiset Full Stack -sankarikehittäjät ovat monen käyttämämme jokapäiväisen nettipalvelun taustalla.

SAP-verkkokauppa

Ensimmäisen aallon SAP-pohjaiset verkkokaupparatkaisut vuosituhannen vaihteen jälkeen olivat pitkälti räätälöityjä haku- ja ostoskorisovelluksia. SAP:n ensimmäinen verkkokauppatuote oli Internet Sales, joka kehittyi myöhemmin lyhenneviidakoksi nimeltään WCEM. Sitten kun WCEM:n kahden ensimmäisen kirjaimen (Web Channel) merkitys muuttui monikanavaksi (Omni-Channel), SAP osti johtavan verkkokauppasovelluksen, hybrisin, pari vuotta sitten. Nykyään monikanavaisuus ei enää riitä. On tuotettava yksilöllisiä, merkityksellisiä ja asiakkaalle arvoa tuottavia kokemuksia jokaisessa kosketuspisteessä (Touchpoint). Nykyinen SAP Hybris vastaa tähän huutoon mm. uusilla Profile and Merchandizing -tuotteilla, jotka mahdollistavat asiakkaan älykkään profiloinnin reaaliajassa ja sen kautta taloudellisten täsmähyötyjen maksimoinnin. SAP-verkkokauppa v. 2016 on digitaalisen murroksen kaupallista hyödyntämistä uusin keinoin.

SAP-verkkokaupan pystyttäminen

Aivan kuin taloprojektissakin, perustan pitää olla kunnossa myös SAP-verkkokauppaa rakentaessa. Täydellinen SAP-verkkokauppakokemus rakentuu monista kerroksista. Yksi perustan kerroksista on perinteinen ERP, tai nykyään uuden ajan digitaalinen ydin (Digital Core) S/4HANA. SAP Hybris -tuoteperheen toiminnot ja sovellukset rakennetaan perustakerroksen yläpuolelle. Näitä seuraavat kerrokset pitävät sisällään mm. tietopalvelut datatietelijöille ja ennustavan analytiikan reaaliaikaisen personoinnin tuottamiseen. Integraatio, tuotetieto- ja muut perustietopalvelut liimaavat kerrokset yhteen. Ylimmät kerrokset tuottavat asiakkaille wau-efektit kaikissa eri kosketuspisteissään.

Full Stack SAP-verkkokauppa

Täyden pinon SAP-verkkokauppa eroaa hyvin paljon geneeristen palvelujen täydestä pinosta – Full Stack. Ensimmäisen kappaleen sankarikehittäjä olisi hukassa suurten yritysten kaupallisten tietojärjestelmäpinojen kanssa, koska ne sisältävät kompleksisuutta ja sisäisiä kerroksia joiden konteksti pitää ymmärtää. Nostetaan kontekstista yksi oleellinen toiminto esille: hinnoittelu. Se on yksi jokaisen verkkokaupparatkaisun kulmakivistä ja SAP-kontekstissa sen läpikäyminen ERP-kerroksessa on välttämätöntä. Joskus hinnoittelua pitää myös muuttaa – ilman että olemassa oleva liiketoiminta häiriintyy. Harva SAP-verkkokauppatoimittaja voi todeta kokemuksen syvällä rintaäänellä hallitsevansa SAP-verkkokaupan täyden pinon – Full Stack – osaamisella. Bilot on toimittanut täyden pinon SAP-verkkokauppoja ja mukauttanut tarjoamaansa markkinan vaatimuksiin toimintansa alusta lähtien.