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SAS analytics platform adds native support for AWS, GCP

SAS unveils cloud-native support for AWS and Google Cloud during SAS Global Forum, the vendor's virtual user conference. SAS introduced similar support for Microsoft Azure in 2020.

SAS on Tuesday unveiled cloud-native support for its analytics platform in AWS and Google Cloud.

SAS customers who store their data in AWS or Google Cloud will now be able to work with data where it's housed rather than have to extract, transform and load it into SAS for transformation and analysis and then return it to their cloud data warehouse. Previously, SAS enabled customers to store their data in AWS and Google Cloud, but the data had to be sent back and forth between environments for use.

The new integrations were revealed during the keynote address at SAS Global Forum, the vendor's virtual user conference.

SAS, founded in 1976 when it was part of North Carolina State University and based in Cary, N.C., has an existing close partnership with Microsoft under which Microsoft is the preferred cloud provider for SAS' analytics products and includes a go-to-market strategy.

The partnership, revealed in June 2020 just before that year's Global Forum, however, is not exclusive and SAS supports customers' desires to store data in their location of choice, whether that's a cloud data warehouse, on premises or a hybrid of the two. In addition to the native integrations with Azure, AWS and Google Cloud, another with Red Hat OpenShift is under development and expected to be ready in fall 2021.

Each of the new cloud-native integrations is as seamless as SAS' integration with Microsoft, according to Jay Upchurch, executive vice president and CIO of SAS.

"Our software is cloud agnostic," he said during an interview. "We want to enable our customers to have control and choice over where they choose to run it and how they choose to run it -- that's at the heart of our strategy. Data has gravity in our world, and we want to make sure we're enabling that capability."

Jay Upchurch, executive vice president and CIO of SAS, speaks during a virtual press conference.
Jay Upchurch, executive vice president and CIO of SAS, speaks during a virtual press briefing before SAS Global Forum, SAS' virtual user conference.

Upchurch added that when customers choose to have SAS run their cloud analytics platforms as a SaaS offering, SAS uses Azure, but that customers choosing to maintain full control over their analytics are free to use the cloud of their choice, including multiple clouds.

"From a tech support standpoint and in terms of operational capability, it should not be any different," he said. "We know we have to give our customers choice, [and] we want to enable access to data by bringing our technology closer to it."

SAS offers SAS 9.4, an enterprise analytics platform for the on-premises users that still make up more than half of the vendor's 17,000 customers, and Viya 4, a platform first introduced in 2016 that was overhauled in 2020 to become fully cloud native.

And while new integrations don't add new features to the SAS analytics platform, they represent a substantial advancement for customers, according to Mike Leone, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

Our software is cloud agnostic. We want to enable our customers to have control and choice over where they choose to run it and how they choose to run it -- that's at the heart of our strategy. Data has gravity in our world, and we want to make sure we're enabling that capability.
Jay UpchurchExecutive vice president and CIO, SAS

They enable customers to more quickly easily work with their data, and that is significant, he said.

"SAS is enabling their customers to take advantage of modern software architecture tightly aligned and integrated with the cloud," Leone said. "That includes delivering on all the promises of the cloud. Elasticity and real-time scalability, on-demand availability, improved resiliency and improved agility all are seamlessly delivered and available without much, if any, lift from operations teams."

Leone added that by offering native support for multiple clouds, SAS is not only making data analysis faster and easier but also reducing risks such as data loss and costs associated with moving large amounts of data from its storage location into SAS and back again.

"The inherent risk of something going wrong, the time it takes to move the massive data volumes and cost to manage and maintain all the underlying technologies that enable that movement are preventing organizations from achieving their desired levels of data success," he said. "SAS is bringing the right tools and services to where the data lives today."

In addition to cloud-native support for AWS and Google Cloud, SAS unveiled a new chatbot built with the Identity Theft Resource Center designed to help fraud victims, and free data literacy assets, including a data literacy course for professionals and K-12 resources, to educate people about how to interpret and understand data.

Meanwhile, with new cloud-native integrations for AWS and Google Cloud now available, SAS is focused on delivering a similar integration with OpenShift next. In addition, SAS' roadmap includes consolidating its various tools so customers can more easily migrate from SAS 9.4 to Viya and offering more industry-specific solutions.

"There's a theme there of making [analytics] easy," Upchurch said, "and driving down the time to value."

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) is a division of TechTarget.

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