Role of Sap Data Lake – What Can It Do For Your Business

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( — April 27, 2021) — Data lakes are seen and perceived to be a one-stop solution for all data problems in any organization and have created quite a buzz in recent times. 

Before diving into the role of SAP data lake, it is necessary to understand the concept of a data lake and what it brings to the table.

A data lake is a repository for all types of data – unstructured, semi-structured, and structured – that can be accessed and processed to take leading-edge business decisions. This is just the basic feature and a modern data lake like SAP data lake is capable of much more as will be seen later. Deploying a modern data lake will help your business to improve performance, lower costs, and get quick access to data for generating insights. 

Many people often confuse a data lake with a data warehouse but in reality, one does not replace the other. While a data lake allows data to be stored in a raw form, a data warehouse can only be used to store data that has been cleaned, processed, and structured. Hence, the two complements but do not substitute each other. 

Further, a data lake is not one generic architecture and its designs vary with businesses and use cases. An SAP data lake set up and design will, therefore, be quite different from a Snowflake data lake even though both fall in the same classification of data lakes.

SAP HANA data lake Cloud-based

SAP announced HDL (HANA Data Lake) as an integral part of its affordable cloud services in April 2020. It provides low-cost storage options that include a built-in relational SAP data lake as well as SAP HANA native storage extension and is a unique advantage for businesses. You can keep current and critical data in memory for real-time processing and move data that is not used daily to the SAP HANA Native Storage Extension (NSE). 

Very old data that is not used frequently need not be deleted, the HANA Data Lake (IQ) may be used to access it whenever required. Once you tier the data according to its importance and frequency of use, costs of data storage are significantly reduced. 

SAP IQ database is implemented in the cloud and offers excellent capabilities that are comparable with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In effect, it means that the SAP data lake is a relational data lake offering 10x compression of existing data, thereby reducing costs. 

As with other cloud-based data lake platforms, it can store both structured and unstructured data and the SAP data lake can be run either in the current HANA Cloud instance or optimized in a new one. In both cases, storage spaces can be added at any time. Other features include enhanced security, audit logging, tracking of data access, encryption, and more, all that is generally associated with cloud-based data storage systems. 

SAP Data Lake Architecture

If you want to get a clear understanding of the SAP data lake, think of it as a pyramid. 

At the top layer of the pyramid is the data that is very important for your business and comprises data that is accessed almost daily and often required immediately. This slab of data is hot data that is most valuable for your organization and stored in-memory. Therefore, the storage costs are the highest here and operationally most expensive. 

The middle of the pyramid has the critical SAP data lake. While it was treated in the past as typical cold storage, all that has changed with the introduction of SAP HANA data. The structure of the relational database improves acceleration and simplification of data analysis and can also provide rapid access to massive volumes of data.

Finally, what is left is the bottom tier that holds raw data that cannot be accessed as speedily as that in the top tier. However, though the speed of access is low, large volumes of data can be stored here and accessed at substantially lower costs.  

Summing up, it can be said that SAP data lake offers optimized data management through a reasonable life cycle. Vital and comparatively new data that is urgent is available in real-time or almost real-time and the same holds for old data. The pyramid-tiering architecture keeps costs down and you have the option to choose which location you want to store your data based on how quickly and frequently you want to gain access to it. 

Performance Enhancing Features of the SAP data lake 

SAP HANA data lake is today the much-preferred option among organizations as a data repository because of its several high-performing features. Here are some of them.

  • Flexible and not dependent on HANA DB. Storage volumes can be quickly scaled up to petabytes of data on demand and businesses need not invest in additional hardware or software in case of a sudden spike in storage requirements. 
  • Quick and seamless access to other cloud storage services like AWS S3 and Google Cloud platform
  • Based on SAP IQ technology
  • High performing capacity for data analysis
  • High-speed ingestion
  • Can automatically complement and be administered with HANA Cloud 

These cutting-edge features of SAP data lake result in a host of benefits for businesses.