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SAS Partners With Microsoft Azure To Bring Its Analytics to the Cloud
by Daniel Newman | June 18, 2020

The News: Microsoft Corp. and SAS today announced an extensive technology and go-to-market strategic partnership. The two companies will enable customers to easily run their SAS® workloads in the cloud, expanding their business solutions and unlocking critical value from their digital transformation initiatives. As part of the partnership, the companies will migrate SAS’ analytical products and industry solutions onto Microsoft Azure as the preferred cloud provider for the SAS Cloud. SAS’ industry solutions and expertise will also bring added value to Microsoft’s customers across health care, financial services and many other industries. This partnership builds on SAS integrations across Microsoft cloud solutions for Azure, Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365 and Power Platform and supports the companies’ shared vision to further democratize AI and analytics. Read the news release on Microsoft.

Analyst Take: For the past two years I have been outspoken about SAS having an important decision to make in making its world-class analytics platform more cloud friendly.

While the large, privately held company has gone about its business as one of the staples for analytics, we have seen a massive migration of workloads move to the cloud in order to enable companies to be more nimble and have greater accessibility and agility with vast data and applications across geographies.

The decision to partner with Microsoft, a company that has seen a rocket like trajectory was one of what I would have considered only two options for a market leading cloud offering. While AWS would have been the other, the selection of Azure will provide equal, if not greater opportunity for SAS given Microsoft’s broader portfolio of software for productivity, business applications, collaboration and business intelligence. Put SAS in the engine room of a Dynamics 365 and/or Power BI deployment and you have instantly generated an exponentially more powerful analytics solution.

Integration and Democratization is What the SAS and Microsoft Partnership is All About

Perhaps what excited me most is the future of SAS + Microsoft. With SAS alluding to plans to build integrations across Microsoft’s entire cloud portfolio (Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 & Power BI) it has the potential to be so much more than just running SAS’ in the cloud. It becomes symbiotic and both companies and their respective users stand to benefit.

I also believe the two companies having such a deep bench in verticals such as financials, manufacturing, healthcare and other industries will prove critical in advancing the utilization of next generation analytics and visualization. This leads to better decisions and also a bigger shared goal that exists between the two companies–democratizing AI, ML and Advanced Analytics.

It’s also worth a further mention of synergy that will be created in the IoT and Edge space as both Azure IoT and SAS Edge to Cloud IoT analytics have been focal points for the two companies. Both recognize the scale that IoT and Edge will have in terms of volumes of data and the need for collection, enrichment, and utilization across a wide swath of industries including retail, manufacturing and also public sector such as smart city engineering.

Overall Impressions on SAS + Microsoft Partnership Announcement

Running SAS in the cloud theoretically isn’t something new, but until this point, the company hadn’t really put a stake in the ground as to a preferred partnership. With SAS and Microsoft making it official, this should serve as an opportunity for SAS’ powerful analytics platform to scale and for Microsoft to offer this best in class solution to its broad vertically focused customers.

As the integrations deepen, I expect this to be a big win for both companies. It will be important to track and continue to watch the partnership and see how it develops. Based upon the depth of thought and the use cases shared by the companies it looks very positive, but follow through will be key. Given that I’ve long thought SAS needed to expand its cloud offerings and simplify its path to cloud, a partnership with Microsoft represents one of the best possible options. Leaving users of both Microsoft and SAS to have a lot to be encouraged by.

Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice. 

Additional Disclaimer: Futurum Research received remuneration for attending SAS Global Forum Online. All opinions are that of the author.

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Image Credit: SAS/Microsoft
Daniel Newman
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