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Here is a brief interview with Alvaro Tejada Galindo aka Blag who is a developer working with SAP Hana and R at SAP Labs, Montreal. SAP Hana is SAP’s latest offering in BI , it’s also a database and a computing environment , and using R and HANA together on the cloud can give major productivity gains in terms of both speed and analytical ability, as per preliminary use cases.
Ajay- What made the R language a fit for SAP HANA. Did you consider other languages? What is your view on Julia/Python/SPSS/SAS/Matlab languages
Blag- I think “R” is a must for SAP HANA. As the fastest database in the market, we needed a language that could help us shape the data in the best possible way. “R” filled that purpose very well. Right now, “R” is not the only language as “L” can be used as well (http://wiki.tcl.tk/17068) …not forgetting “SQLScript” which is our own version of SQL (http://goo.gl/x3bwh) . I have to admit that I tried Julia, but couldn’t manage to make it work. Regarding Python, it’s an interesting question as I’m going to blog about Python and SAP HANA soon. About Matlab, SPSS and SAS I haven’t used them, so I got nothing to say there.
Ajay- What is your view on some of the limitations of R that can be overcome with using it with SAP HANA.
Blag- I think mostly the ability of SAP HANA to work with big data. Again, SAP HANA and “R” can work very nicely together and achieve things that weren’t possible before.
Ajay- Have you considered other vendors of R including working with RStudio, Revolution Analytics, and even Oracle R Enterprise.
Blag- I’m not really part of the SAP HANA or the R groups inside SAP, so I can’t really comment on that. I can only say that I use RStudio every time I need to do something with R. Regarding Oracle…I don’t think so…but they can use any of our products whenever they want.
Ajay- Do you have a case study on an actual usage of R with SAP HANA that led to great results.
Blag- Right now the use of “R” and SAP HANA is very preliminary, I don’t think many people has start working on it…but as an example that it works, you can check this awesome blog entry from my friend Jitender Aswani “Big Data, R and HANA: Analyze 200 Million Data Points and Later Visualize Using Google Maps “ (http://allthingsr.blogspot.com/#!/2012/04/big-data-r-and-hana-analyze-200-million.html)
Ajay- Does your group in SAP plan to give to the R ecosystem by attending conferences like UseR 2012, sponsoring meets, or package development etc
Blag- My group is in charge of everything developers, so sure, we’re planning to get more in touch with R developers and their ecosystem. Not sure how we’re going to deal with it, but at least I’m going to get myself involved in the Montreal R Group.
|Name:||Alvaro Tejada Galindo|
|Company:||SAP Canada Labs-Montreal|
|Instant Messaging Type:|
|Instant Messaging ID:||Blag|
|Professional Blog URL:||http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/u/252210910|
|My Relation to SAP:||employee|
|Short Bio:||Development Expert for the Technology Innovation and Developer Experience team.Used to be an ABAP Consultant for the last 11 years. Addicted to programming since 1997.|
SAP HANA is SAP AG’s implementation of in-memory database technology. There are four components within the software group:
- SAP HANA DB (or HANA DB) refers to the database technology itself,
- SAP HANA Studio refers to the suite of tools provided by SAP for modeling,
- SAP HANA Appliance refers to HANA DB as delivered on partner certified hardware (see below) as anappliance. It also includes the modeling tools from HANA Studio as well replication and data transformation tools to move data into HANA DB,
- SAP HANA Application Cloud refers to the cloud based infrastructure for delivery of applications (typically existing SAP applications rewritten to run on HANA).
R is integrated in HANA DB via TCP/IP. HANA uses SQL-SHM, a shared memory-based data exchange to incorporate R’s vertical data structure. HANA also introduces R scripts equivalent to native database operations like join or aggregation. HANA developers can write R scripts in SQL and the types are automatically converted in HANA. R scripts can be invoked with HANA tables as both input and output in the SQLScript. R environments need to be deployed to use R within SQLScript
More blog posts on using SAP and R togetherDealing with R and HANA
HANA meets R
When SAP HANA met R – First kiss
Using RODBC with SAP HANA DB-
SAP HANA: My experiences on using SAP HANA with R
and of course the blog that started it all-
Jitender Aswani’s http://allthingsr.blogspot.in/
So I picked up more Sanskrit on my stay at Goa at the Tantra http://www.decisionstats.com/tantra-anjuna/-
Things to do- or Aims of Human Life
Dharam- Planning, Duty and Responsibilities
Karam- Executing Actions
Artha-Monetary Gains through Planning and Executing
Kama-Desires and Pleasure Seeking
Moksha- Achieving Self Actualization
Things to Control-
instead of 7 sins in Western thought, there are only 5 evils in Sanksrit. Also these evils are correlated, if you control one too much, the other evils will rise.
Kam – Your Lusts or Desires
Lobh-Your Greed for Monetary Satisfaction
Moh-Your affection and love and attachments
Sanskrit for Motivation
Indian Societal Hierarchy
Here is an interview with JJ Allaire, founder of RStudio. RStudio is the IDE that has overtaken other IDE within the R Community in terms of ease of usage. On the eve of their latest product launch, JJ talks to DecisionStats on RStudio and more.
Ajay- So what is new in the latest version of RStudio and how exactly is it useful for people?
JJ- The initial release of RStudio as well as the two follow-up releases we did last year were focused on the core elements of using R: editing and running code, getting help, and managing files, history, workspaces, plots, and packages. In the meantime users have also been asking for some bigger features that would improve the overall work-flow of doing analysis with R. In this release (v0.95) we focused on three of these features:
Projects. R developers tend to have several (and often dozens) of working contexts associated with different clients, analyses, data sets, etc. RStudio projects make it easy to keep these contexts well separated (with distinct R sessions, working directories, environments, command histories, and active source documents), switch quickly between project contexts, and even work with multiple projects at once (using multiple running versions of RStudio).
Version Control. The benefits of using version control for collaboration are well known, but we also believe that solo data analysis can achieve significant productivity gains by using version control (this discussion on Stack Overflow talks about why). In this release we introduced integrated support for the two most popular open-source version control systems: Git and Subversion. This includes changelist management, file diffing, and browsing of project history, all right from within RStudio.
Code Navigation. When you look at how programmers work a surprisingly large amount of time is spent simply navigating from one context to another. Modern programming environments for general purpose languages like C++ and Java solve this problem using various forms of code navigation, and in this release we’ve brought these capabilities to R. The two main features here are the ability to type the name of any file or function in your project and go immediately to it; and the ability to navigate to the definition of any function under your cursor (including the definition of functions within packages) using a keystroke (F2) or mouse gesture (Ctrl+Click).
Ajay- What’s the product road map for RStudio? When can we expect the IDE to turn into a full fledged GUI?
JJ- Linus Torvalds has said that “Linux is evolution, not intelligent design.” RStudio tries to operate on a similar principle—the world of statistical computing is too deep, diverse, and ever-changing for any one person or vendor to map out in advance what is most important. So, our internal process is to ship a new release every few months, listen to what people are doing with the product (and hope to do with it), and then start from scratch again making the improvements that are considered most important.
Right now some of the things which seem to be top of mind for users are improved support for authoring and reproducible research, various editor enhancements including code folding, and debugging tools.
What you’ll see is us do in a given release is to work on a combination of frequently requested features, smaller improvements to usability and work-flow, bug fixes, and finally architectural changes required to support current or future feature requirements.
While we do try to base what we work on as closely as possible on direct user-feedback, we also adhere to some core principles concerning the overall philosophy and direction of the product. So for example the answer to the question about the IDE turning into a full-fledged GUI is: never. We believe that textual representations of computations provide fundamental advantages in transparency, reproducibility, collaboration, and re-usability. We believe that writing code is simply the right way to do complex technical work, so we’ll always look for ways to make coding better, faster, and easier rather than try to eliminate coding altogether.
Ajay -Describe your journey in science from a high school student to your present work in R. I noticed you have been very successful in making software products that have been mostly proprietary products or sold to companies.
Why did you get into open source products with RStudio? What are your plans for monetizing RStudio further down the line?
JJ- In high school and college my principal areas of study were Political Science and Economics. I also had a very strong parallel interest in both computing and quantitative analysis. My first job out of college was as a financial analyst at a government agency. The tools I used in that job were SAS and Excel. I had a dim notion that there must be a better way to marry computation and data analysis than those tools, but of course no concept of what this would look like.
From there I went more in the direction of general purpose computing, starting a couple of companies where I worked principally on programming languages and authoring tools for the Web. These companies produced proprietary software, which at the time (between 1995 and 2005) was a workable model because it allowed us to build the revenue required to fund development and to promote and distribute the software to a wider audience.
By 2005 it was however becoming clear that proprietary software would ultimately be overtaken by open source software in nearly all domains. The cost of development had shrunken dramatically thanks to both the availability of high-quality open source languages and tools as well as the scale of global collaboration possible on open source projects. The cost of promoting and distributing software had also collapsed thanks to efficiency of both distribution and information diffusion on the Web.
When I heard about R and learned more about it, I become very excited and inspired by what the project had accomplished. A group of extremely talented and dedicated users had created the software they needed for their work and then shared the fruits of that work with everyone. R was a platform that everyone could rally around because it worked so well, was extensible in all the right ways, and most importantly was free (as in speech) so users could depend upon it as a long-term foundation for their work.
So I started RStudio with the aim of making useful contributions to the R community. We started with building an IDE because it seemed like a first-rate development environment for R that was both powerful and easy to use was an unmet need. Being aware that many other companies had built successful businesses around open-source software, we were also convinced that we could make RStudio available under a free and open-source license (the AGPLv3) while still creating a viable business. At this point RStudio is exclusively focused on creating the best IDE for R that we can. As the core product gets where it needs to be over the next couple of years we’ll then also begin to sell other products and services related to R and RStudio.
In 1995 Joseph J. (JJ) Allaire co-founded Allaire Corporation with his brother Jeremy Allaire, creating the web development tool ColdFusion. In March 2001, Allaire was sold to Macromedia where ColdFusion was integrated into the Macromedia MX product line. Macromedia was subsequently acquired by Adobe Systems, which continues to develop and market ColdFusion.
After the sale of his company, Allaire became frustrated at the difficulty of keeping track of research he was doing using Google. To address this problem, he co-founded Onfolio in 2004 with Adam Berrey, former Allaire co-founder and VP of Marketing at Macromedia.
On March 8, 2006, Onfolio was acquired by Microsoft where many of the features of the original product are being incorporated into the Windows Live Toolbar. On August 13, 2006, Microsoft released the public beta of a new desktop blogging client called Windows Live Writer that was created by Allaire’s team at Microsoft.
Starting in 2009, Allaire has been developing a web-based interface to the widely used R technical computing environment. A beta version of RStudio was publicly released on February 28, 2011.
JJ Allaire received his B.A. from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) in 1991.
RStudio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for R which works with the standard version of R available from CRAN. Like R, RStudio is available under a free software license. RStudio is designed to be as straightforward and intuitive as possible to provide a friendly environment for new and experienced R users alike. RStudio is also a company, and they plan to sell services (support, training, consulting, hosting) related to the open-source software they distribute.
SAS Institute has release it’s financials for 2011 at http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2011financials.html,
Revenue surged across all solution and industry categories. Software to detect fraud saw a triple-digit jump. Revenue from on-demand solutions grew almost 50 percent. Growth from analytics and information management solutions were double digit, as were gains from customer intelligence, retail, risk and supply chain solutions
AJAY- and as a private company it is quite nice that they are willing to share so much information every year.
The graphics are nice ( and the colors much better than in 2010) , but pie-charts- seriously dude there is no way to compare how much SAS revenue is shifting across geographies or even across industries. So my two cents is – lose the pie charts, and stick to line graphs please for the share of revenue by country /industry.
In 2011, SAS grew staff 9.2 percent and reinvested 24 percent of revenue into research and development
AJAY- So that means 654 million dollars spent in Research and Development. I wonder if SAS has considered investing in much smaller startups (than it’s traditional strategy of doing all research in-house and completely acquiring a smaller company)
Even a small investment of say 5-10 million USD in open source , or even Phd level research projects could greatly increase the ROI on that.
Analyzing a private company’s financials are much more fun than a public company, and I remember the words of my finance professor ( “dig , dig”) to compare 2011 results with 2010 results.
The percentage invested in R and D is exactly the same (24%) and the percentages of revenue earned from each geography is exactly the same . So even though revenue growth increased from 5.2 % to 9% in 2011, both the geographic spread of revenues and share R&D costs remained EXACTLY the same.
The Americas accounted for 46 percent of total revenue; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 42 percent; and Asia Pacific 12 percent.
Overall, I think SAS remains a 35% market share (despite all that noise from IBM, SAS clones, open source) because they are good at providing solutions customized for industries (instead of just software products), the market for analytics is not saturated (it seems to be growing faster than 12% or is it) , and its ability to attract and retain the best analytical talent (which in a non -American tradition for a software company means no stock options, job security, and great benefits- SAS remains almost Japanese in HR practices).
In 2010, SAS grew staff by 2.4 percent, in 2011 SAS grew staff by 9 percent.
But I liked the directional statement made here-and I think that design interfaces, algorithmic and computational efficiencies should increase analytical time, time to think on business and reduce data management time further!
“What would you do with the extra time if your code ran in two minutes instead of five hours?” Goodnight challenged.