SAS selects Microsoft as preferred cloud platform

Expect to see a lot more SAS in Microsoft Azure’s cloud portfolio in the coming months and years.

The enterprise data management and analytics company today announced a technology partnership with Microsoft, a move with short term outcomes such as the optimization of SAS’s cloud offering Viya for Azure, as well as far-reaching integrations of SAS solutions within Microsoft Azure and Dynamics. SAS already boasts dozens of Fortune 1000 companies among its customers, helping each of them turn data into actionable analytics. Many of those companies also have relationships with Microsoft.

In essence, SAS is going where the data is located, and nowadays, data is being pushed to the cloud, a trend that’s increasingly evident during the remote work era ushered in by COVID-19. But SAS didn’t choose Microsoft as its preferred cloud provider without getting the nod of approval from its partners, executives told IT World prior to the announcement.

From left: Doug McLaren, director of alliances for SAS Canada and Steve Holder, head of strategy & innovation for SAS Canada, discuss the partnership with Microsoft.

“We’ve selected Microsoft as our preferred cloud partner and our customers have selected Microsoft as well,” said Doug McLaren, director of alliances for SAS Canada, adding that 60 per cent of SAS Canada partners are Microsoft Azure partners, too. “That’s going to help us scale this partnership quickly.”

Microsoft’s corporate vice-president Ulrich Homann says the partnership will help certain companies rapidly inject value into data that’s been sitting around in spreadsheets, collecting dust.
“That data loses value over time,” he said.

Steve Holder, head of strategy and innovation for SAS Canada, said the problem persists because some companies are still stuck in their old ways, and as a result, improperly configuring their cloud computing requirements. “Some organizations aren’t adapting,” Holder said.

The partnership opens up strong opportunities for joint solutions between SAS and Microsoft, which is also good news for Canadian channel partners who deal with thousands of customers running applications belonging to both vendors, according to IDC’s Steve White.

“The partnership between SAS as a leader in the analytics space, and Microsoft as a leader in cloud makes for an interesting strategic alliance. With SAS planning to build integrations across Microsoft’s entire cloud portfolio (Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 & Power BI) it opens up a lot of joint solution potential,” said White, program vice-president, channels and alliances at IDC.



SAS announces $1 billion investment in AI over 3 years 


A new set of solutions combining the best of SAS and Azure should make it a lot easier for large businesses struggling to combine any meaningful machine learning to their data. But this partnership is going to require a bit of an adjustment for Holder and his team of architects, he told the publication. In addition to a renewed understanding of the business around cloud and SaaS products, Holder says his team will have to double down on containers and Kubernetes.

“It’s a whole other language we’ll have to focus on,” he said.

Today’s announcement is in conjunction with the Virtual SAS Global Forum 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s conference is being held virtually.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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