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.
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.
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