Taking Your Analytics Into the Cloud


If you've been itching to serve up your SAS analytics software from the cloud, you won't have to wait much longer.

This week at SAS Global Forum 2013, the company (this site's sponsor) announced the June shipment of SAS 9.4, the latest version of the foundational SAS Business Analytics platform. With 9.4 comes a variety of new capabilities, including the ability to deploy SAS software in private or public clouds.

Keith Collins, CTO, SAS
Keith Collins, CTO, SAS

At the conference in San Francisco, I caught up with SAS CTO Keith Collins to talk about where the company was headed with its technology -- including into the cloud. "If you're not doing something in the cloud, you're nobody," he said. "And we want to be somebody, and so we have developed a cloud-friendly architecture."

In building the cloud-friendly architecture, SAS focused on the ease of deploying a virtual analytics application and managing and monitoring the app, as well as "driving innovation." A major goal, he said, is to make the cost of building and deploying an application in the cloud so cheap that the app becomes disposable.

"Disposible?" I asked.

"That's right," he said. "We want it to be so cheap you can just throw it away if you want."

This kind of innovative development work is taking place within the SAS hosted cloud environment. Three companies (which Collins did not name) are running analytics innovation labs, trying new algorithms, and using High-Performance Analytics to "see if they can find something new that changes their business." Absent the cloud, commissioning the internal resources needed to conduct such experiments would be cost prohibitive or otherwise infeasible for most companies.

If the analytical innovators that Collins mentioned do find something worth putting into production, their deployment options now include a virtual app they can use in a private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid cloud environment. "We want to be as IT friendly as possible, driving down cost of ownership for IT and driving up time to value."

Reluctance among enterprises to conduct mission-critical analytics in the cloud is "falling away fast." Collins sees a fair amount of comfort with the idea of virtual private clouds extending out to the public cloud. Concerns about security, storage, and capacity are diminishing, and Amazon's recently announced Redshift (still in beta) is a potential game changer. Redshift is a petabyte-scale data warehouse delivered from the Amazon cloud as a service. "This will impact where people will build data warehouses for data that's [made anonymous] but is readily available. It'll be an important play."

SAS Visual Analytics, which supports advanced data exploration and visualization, will be among the first SAS 9.4 products available for cloud deployment. Others will be master data management and the classic SAS Analytics Pro suite, Collins said.

Do clouds have a place in your company's analytics strategy? Share below.

Beth Schultz, Editor in Chief

Beth Schultz has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor.  Most recently, she brought her expertise to bear writing thought-provoking editorial and marketing materials on a variety of technology topics for leading IT publications and industry players.  Previously, she oversaw multimedia content development, writing and editing for special feature packages at Network World. In particular, she focused on advanced IT technology and its impact on business users and in so doing became a thought leader on the revolutionary changes remaking the corporate datacenter and enterprise IT architecture. Beth has a keen ability to identify business and technology trends, developing expertise through in-depth analysis and early adopter case studies. Over the years, she has earned more than a dozen national and regional editorial excellence awards for special issues from American Business Media, American Society of Business Press Editors, Folio.net, and others.

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Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/6/2013 8:50:01 AM
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Hi Kicheko -- absolutely, SAS offers a wide variety of analytics software as a service under the SAS OnDemand label. Offerings include those for campaign management, customer experience analytics, marketing operations management, social media analytics, and more. 

Re: Not only the cloud
  • 5/5/2013 11:36:26 PM
NO RATINGS

That's a funny observation Seth. And yes I do - pour baking soda down the drain!

Re: Not only the cloud
  • 5/5/2013 7:26:33 PM
NO RATINGS

Disposable apps?  That kind of reminds me of how Arm & Hammer Baking Soda convinced people to buy their product and pour it down the drain.

However, if they could make apps that cheap, that would encourage companies to experiement with analytics, without the fear of making investment mistakes. 

Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/4/2013 8:21:20 AM
NO RATINGS

Beth, - I am wondering if SAS has a SaaS offering. I read something like that and thought instead of one buying SAS to deploy to the public cloud why can't they go for the SaaS offering. Unless they strictly want to deploy on private cloud.

Not only the cloud
  • 5/3/2013 11:46:39 AM
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We need solutions that not only use the cloud ( like the new SAS solution), but also use mobile technology. Ideally you should be able to view data and add data easily through mobile devices. The concept of seperate apps for each device and a constatnt need to update will not make it. Now that we are using IPv6, it is also time to embrace web based solutions using HTML5.

Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/3/2013 10:29:06 AM
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@bulk, so true -- the big carriers have done their part!

Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/2/2013 4:27:51 PM
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Beth, it depends on which end you look at it from. I work on the service provider side so I am seeing much more of it on what would be considered the backbone of the internet and in core routing. so from that perspective its getting there much quicker than the LAN side where office buildings are still primarly IPv4. So, as an example. A large company might have a pretty big network in their office which uses IPv4 but their link out to their service provider is IPv6, a setup like that gives them the flexability to make the migration at a slower pace. 

Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/2/2013 4:23:35 PM
NO RATINGS

Ah, good old IPv6. That's been a long time in coming... and we're not totally there yet, are we? Even in the US.

Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/2/2013 4:02:46 PM
NO RATINGS

Beth, I would think so and I think IPv6 will be a big part of what drives it. IPv6 has security features built in that were not avalible in IPv4 which is something "the cloud" will benefit from a great deal. I generally see regulation lags behind technology by a few years, but as IPv6 is deployed in more networks security will become less of an issue and then it will be time for compliance regulations to catch up. 

Re: Head in the Clouds
  • 5/2/2013 3:49:45 PM
NO RATINGS

@buik, is that to say you think we'll see compliance reforms that account for data being stored and served up off premises?

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