SAS takes aim at SAP with in-memory analytics

SAN FRANCISCO – When is in-memory analytics not really in-memory analytics? According to business intelligence software vendor SAS Institute, when it’s delivered via an in-memory database instead of an in-memory server.

SAS took the wraps off several high-performance analytics products leveraging in-memory computing at its annual SAS Executive Forum conference, and took pains to differentiate its offerings from those of rivals such as German business software vendor SAP AG, which is already in the in-memory analytics game with its HANA appliance and data centre offerings.
Jim Davis, SAS senior VP (Photo by Jeff Jedras)

“There’s not a company out there that doesn’t say they have in memory analytics and a really nice user interface, but they’re not all the same,” said Jim Davis, SAS senior vice-president and CMO. “They can’t do predictive analytics.”

The difference is in the in-memory technology, said Davis. SAP’s HANA is an in-memory database, which Davis said is bound by the limitations of SQL processing. So, while queries will run faster, he said it’s still reactive, not predictive – making it business intelligence, not true predictive analytics. SAS’s in-memory solution, on the other hand, is server-blade based, which Davis said allows for both faster queries and true predictive analytics unrestrained by SQL.

“SAP will sell HANA to lots of current SAP customers. They’ll tell them this is the future, and you’ve got to buy it,” said SAS president and CEO Jim Goodnight. “But HANA is just a SQL database. It doesn’t change anything except it goes faster.”

SAS announced six new high performance analytics that will be available in June, designed to quickly perform analytical tasks in-memory across big data to meet specific business needs. The solutions are focused on data mining, statistics, text mining, optimization, econometrics and forecasting. They’re each designed to run on a dedicated industry standard blade, and are compatible with Teradata, Greenplum, Hadoop and Oracle.

Due to launch in May is SAS Customer Intelligence 6, designed to provide advanced analytics tools to marketers and allow to be more accountable for and strategic with their marketing spend.

“There’s a new user interface, and marketer can quickly move from data analysis to insights in real time, thereby improving marketing efficiency,” said Goodinight.

The suite includes SAS tools designed for marketing automation, marketing optimization, digital marketing and real-time decision-making, integrated into one web-based application. Among the new features is the ability to quickly switch between inbound and outbound campaigns, enhanced e-mail design capabilities with templates and digital asset management, and enhancements to the optimization algorithm, reducing execution times while increasing optimization complexity.


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Finally, version 9.4 of SAS Business Analytics will ship in June with new support for public and private cloud deployment and extended Hadoop integration. It will also include an enhanced version of SAS Visual Analytics, with enhancements around reporting, mobility, security and support for additional server platforms.

The new visual analytics capabilities caught the eye of Andrea Johnson, executive director of customer relationship marketing at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International in Toronto.

“Visual analytics is really important. Even five years ago we were just wanting to know everything, but it’s not all useful and visualization allows is to demonstrate what the value is of certain key performance indicators,” said Johnson. “It’s no longer just reporting; it’s a key performance indicator of what’s going on. It’s something we’re committed to most completely.”


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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
As an assistant editor at IT World Canada, Jeff Jedras contributes primarily to CDN and, covering the reseller channel and the small and medium-sized business space.

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