Sunday, March 29, 2009

SAS, analytics and the cloud

SAS got a lot of press coverage when it announced it would invest $70M in a new data center. There is no doubt SAS is a world class company, clear market leader. In a 2008 survey by Rexer Analytics, 45% of respondents reported they use SAS. Almost 1 in 2 data miners? not bad.

I did not know SAS had a hosting service. As they said, their hosting business has grown with almost no advertising but late last year I heard they were pitching to one of the top media companies. I was surprised at first but it really makes a lot of sense and their recent announcement confirms the solid traction that business is getting.

After thinking about it a little more I'm very curious to see how their SaaS offering will play out. I believe the Analytics market is prime for a big disruption. The market is dominated by a handful of companies with relatively closed technology (at least in one direction) and significant profit margins. Open Source projects like R have shaken the game a bit but nothing earth shattering yet. I believe the Cloud -with its limitless storage and cpu power- will bring a more disruptive wave.  Will SAS take the lead? Can they embrace the power of Hadoop and in-memory databases to take their business to the next level? Or will they play conservatively, milking their current cash cow and using their market dominance to crush their smaller competitors? 

This will be a fascinating race.

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