Workday Tackles Big Data in the Cloud

At the recently held Workday Rising 2012 conference, Workday unveiled big data analytics for its users in human resources (HR) and financial departments. Workday plans to deliver big data capabilities (with no hardware required) to map and process external data sources and streams.

One of Workday's design principles was to provide embedded contextual (relationship-aware) and fast in-memory business intelligence (BI) throughout the product. The product performs analysis on transactional data—with no need for replication, extract, transform, load and (ETL), and resulting latency, while being on a single security model; this is similar to SAP HANA, but for SAP users it comes with an extra price, whereas it comes included in the regular Workday solution and therefore has a  lower cost of ownership. In addition, no coding is required for business users to build dashboards, and there is a mobile BI deployment.

But sometimes even all those impressive capabilities are not enough—customers might need external data, too, to come to some conclusions.

Workday gave the example of determining insurance agents’ profitability per policy (based on the claims against them). An insurance company needs the agent data and order data from, say, Sales Cloud and also some policy rules data from some legacy insurance product to be mapped with Workday HR and Workday Financial Management data. The customer would need to perform the following steps:

  • Collect and store—petabytes (PB)/terabytes (TB) of data

  • Map, reduce, and analyze—to TB/gigabytes (GB) of data using Hadoop in the cloud; Workday also embeds the Datameer solution for mapping data

  • Consume and act—on megabytes (MB) of data, which is the familiar built-in BI Workday experience

Workday Big Data Analytics is scheduled to be generally available (GA) to Workday customers in the second half of 2013 as an add-on application, sold separately. Except for the biggest big data implementations, good software design like the one by Workday should eliminate the need for specialized hardware

TEC blog post (Nov 2012): Workday Becoming a Global Financial Management Software Provider
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