In part two of the scalability blog series, we’re taking a closer look at the first important tenet—modeling that spans multiple use cases. Before we dive deeper, let’s recap what differentiates Anaplan from other planning technology offerings.
Anaplan combines elements of spreadsheets, databases, and online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. It is all of them—and none of them—at the same time. Anaplan has the flexibility of a spreadsheet, the scale of an enterprise database, and the slice-and-dice capabilities of OLAP cubes. It’s a single platform built for collaboration in the cloud to enable Connected Planning.
Model for a Variety of Use Cases, Across Any Function
Planning occurs across the entire business, in all departments, and is performed by many different people at different times. A successful Connected Planning platform must allow teams to seamlessly work together across functions to model and solve for a variety of ever-expanding use cases including sales, finance, supply chain, human resources, and more.
Anaplan was designed to fulfill all of these planning and modeling needs for all employees across the business, solving for any type of problem statement. Purpose-built as a unified platform that spans across multiple use cases, Anaplan is designed with certain considerations to support Connected Planning at scale:
No programming or scripting: Formulas and constructs use simple business terms and logic without requiring tedious coding and processes to perform calculations.
Uniform access time: Retrieval time is consistent, regardless of role or value viewed.
Consistency: A unified single source of truth for data means that all values are the same at any given time.
Frequency of updates: Optimization supports small, frequent changes by many users across the organization.
Complex calculations: Calculations can be as complex as particular business processes need.
The other primary consideration to achieve Connected Planning at scale is performance. As the use case footprint expands within an organization, Anaplan needs to perform increasingly complex calculations, fast. This is where the Hyperblock calculation engine helps to power modeling capabilities at scale.
Hyperblock High Performance Unlocks Scalability
The Hyperblock is an in-memory engine that can index and understand the dependencies between the model objects and calculations, based on the connections they share. When a user enters or changes a value, the Hyperblock understands which calculations need to be updated and in what sequence. In addition, the Hyperblock can perform calculations in parallel, meaning large, complex calculations can be performed within mere seconds.
For example, picture a traffic jam full of cars waiting to pass through a single toll booth, one at a time, as a representation of the set of calculations that need to be performed. If the toll booth can only process one car at a time, it could take hours to process the long line of backed-up cars. However, if there were 100 booths available, 100 cars could be processed together. This is similar to how the Hyperblock works. By processing a large number of calculations simultaneously, it drastically speeds calculation time even as business needs and data scale.
Another Hyperblock performance characteristic uses the sequencing of the underlying technology. Since Anaplan models share common dimensionality, users can link different structures together. Hyperblock indexing capabilities automatically understand the sequence of the common structures, allowing the calculation to be prepared for processing faster, massively improving calculation performance.
Easily Expand With Efficient, Flexible Models
It is not just the Hyperblock engine that allows Anaplan to scale. Part of Anaplan’s flexible model building capabilities is rooted in the principle to only calculate necessary data. Anaplan models don’t require a uniform structure, giving model builders the flexibility to configure parts within a model with different structures or designs that best fit their needs.
The P.L.A.N.S. modeling standard supports this Best Practice with capabilities that let modules with different structures within a model collect and manipulate shared data. Two fundamental modeling constructs at the heart of Anaplan models are SUM and LOOKUP. These allow the transformation and aggregation of data between modules with different structures. This means that parts of the model only run calculations when necessary, effectively reducing the scale of the required calculations while increasing processing efficiency.
The Anaplan platform is also described as a consequence engine that seamlessly integrates plans and applications. It is designed for users to both develop and host business applications, meaning the more applications built within Anaplan, the more connected the business becomes. Further, when new use cases are added to Anaplan, they’re developed with the same building blocks as other similar use cases, easily connecting plans and data in a unified platform
Together, the Hyperblock and modeling efficiency allows Anaplan models to process billions of cells of calculations in real time. Users can see the results of their plans and build what-if scenarios in seconds.
Navigate Complexity at Scale With HyperModelsTM
With Anaplan HyperModel, users can extend the power of the Hyperblock engine to solve more use cases and scenarios at a significant scale. Customers can seamlessly integrate more historical data to plan and forecast for more years into the future and explore more what-if scenarios.
Users can model their business problems simply and efficiently using the same constructs as they do today—with more of them! HyperModels can handle billions of calculations in real time, so organizations can leverage robust modeling capabilities to easily scale alongside the needs of the business while adapting to changing markets and pivoting with highly informed decisions, fast.
Model the Use Cases That Matter Most With Connected Planning
Anaplan’s powerful Hyperblock and modeling capabilities, organizations across the globe can easily connect and solve for a number of new use cases at scale. For example, HyperModels can help unify retail planning and reporting models, integrate long-range historical data for better sales and operations planning analysis, and help HR teams anticipate future staffing needs.
Anaplan is a Connected Planning platform unlike any other. It is a single platform that enables organizations to solve complex problems and use cases in real time and unify disparate business planning processes for greater agility and efficiency. Backed by Hyperblock and HyperModeling technology, teams can scale plans and models as their organizations expand, make faster decisions, and anticipate future market needs.
In the coming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the remaining two tenets to give an insider’s view of how Anaplan meets the challenge of sustainable scalability—one tenet at a time. What questions do you have about scalability? Tell us in the comments below.