SAS updates its high-performance analytics offerings

SAS Institute Inc. is adding polish to its High Performance Analytics portfolio, announcing a range of product updates at the SAS Global Forum in Orlando on Monday.

The SAS LASR Analytic Server, software that can run rapid analytics on data in memory on commodity hardware, has been incorporated into SAS Visual Analytics and will soon be added to other SAS products, the company says. The product was developed due to an increasing demand in many different sectors for lightning-fast analytics, says SAS CEO Jim Goodnight. 

By “flattening” the data and dispensing with a database structure altogether, LASR Analytic Server has the capability to examine billions of rows, he says.
Gartner Inc. research VP Hung LeHong says the “secret sauce” in SAS’s in-memory technology is the structure of the underlying data.
“It is in a construct that’s easily accessible. It may not be like a relationship database-type structure, for example,but it is something that can be accessed very quickly,  manipulated very quickly.”

LeHond also says SAS High Performance Analytics is powered by “a very distributed environment, which allows you to get access to it extremely quickly. Before, even four years ago or something like that, it was just unheard of,” he says.

SAS joins a number of other analytics companies that are optimizing their products to perform in-memory calculations, such as SAP’s HANA, though the latter is technically a database located in memory. But SAS says their product is further differentiated by its sophistication.

“There’s a huge jump from simple BI to advanced analytics,” says Goodnight.
SAS LASR’s architecture makes use of “hundreds and hundreds of CPUs that own part of the data,” stacked in commodity blades, adds Goodnight. He said SAS was “responding to this big data problem by using inexpensive blades.”
SAS says complex analyses that used to take hours or days can now be performed in seconds. The software will have wide application in marketing, retail, financial and government sectors, according to the company
SAS also announced improvements to its SAS Enterprise Case Management software., including centralized reporting, improved event notification and faster Web performance. The system is used to detect financial crime and keep track of fraud investigations.
It also announced the latest version of a related product, SAS Fraud Framework for Insurance,  which now comes with improved social network analysis capabilities and SAS’s new Financial Crimes Monitor, an engine that measures and tracks fraudulent activity.
Stu Bradley, director of fraud and financial crimes practice at SAS, says the new updates to the company’s financial services offerings will allow for more efficient detection of unusual patterns in customers’ data. For example, the social network analysis tool allows clients in financial services to detect patterns of organized fraud.
“Whatever we do within the financial services space, it’s all about speed, accuracy and total cost of ownership,” says Bradley.

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