Less than a decade ago, analytics was a solution in search of a problem, but today, the problem is that there are too many possibilities. Big data and the Internet of Things alone combine to provide ample reasons for making use of analytics. And that has led to an explosion of products from vendors old and new.
Cary, NC-based SAS Institute has been creating analytics software since 1976. This year’s 40th anniversary celebration at the company’s recent Global Forum user conference featured the launch of a new architecture and new tools to meet today’s needs.
SAS Viya, announced by SAS founder and CEO Jim Goodnight during his keynote, is an open, cloud-ready architecture that allows anyone to access the power of analytics while still providing the scalability to address big problems.
“What we’re unveiling is a quantum leap forward in making analytics easier to use and accessible to everyone,” Goodnight said. “SAS Viya is a cloud-based system that employs massively parallel computing. All the computing algorithms and smarts are up there in the cloud.”
Customers can use it in conjunction with existing versions of SAS, for example prepping data in SAS 9, then uploading it to SAS Viya for processing. Goodnight said that although there are fewer procedures in SAS Viya, what’s there is more powerful. Current SAS 9 customers can connect from SAS 9 to the SAS Viya environment.
Unlike other SAS products, which require the use of a proprietary programming language, the Viya platform contains open APIs, so users can access it through computer languages such as Lua, Java, or Python, or using REST APIs. The platform is self-healing; if one node goes down, the system reassigns its tasks to another node, and it is also able to add nodes as required by the workload.
“SAS has embarked on a major effort to build for the future of analytics with its SAS Viya architecture,” said Nicole Engelbert, Director of Research and Analysis at Ovum, in a statement. “This is an ambitious, aggressive undertaking that incorporates the key innovations that can take its customers where they want to be. It’s critical that analytics users can quickly integrate and exploit new technologies.”
SAS is offering its Visual Analytics, Visual Statistics, Visual Investigator, and Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning on the Viya platform to begin with.
Said SAS Analytics Server Research and Development VP Oliver Schaberberger, the platform’s chief architect, who assisted Goodnight with the announcement, “It is built for the cloud, but it does not require the cloud. Cloud is a concept, it’s a way of building software that can be deployed anywhere, so you can take SAS Viya into your datacentre, bare metal or virtualized, or you can run it in the cloud.”
“It’s not SAS 10. Viya is its own beast,” added Mike Frost, senior product manager, cloud and platforms. “When you think about the history of SAS, when we’ve released a new version of our software, the first thing that we’ve done is say, you have to turn off the lights on your previous version and migrate to the new thing. This is an ‘and’, not an ‘or’.”
“Right now, there’s no plan for us to transition customers to onto Viya on a schedule that we provide,” he went on. “It indicates a transition point, a smooth move from where people are at to where they’re going to be.”
SAS Viya will be available to select early adopters in May, with general availability in Q3 2016.
At the conference, SAS also launched two new products: SAS Analytics for IoT, and SAS Customer Intelligence 360.
SAS Analytics for IoT combines streaming technology with analytics to capture and make sense of the data from sensors, allowing customers to make decisions based on that data in real time. It is currently in use in energy, manufacturing, healthcare, and other domains.
SAS Customer Intelligence 360 is a digital marketing hub, delivered as a cloud service, that pulls together data from multiple sources inside and outside an organization to allow marketers to glean insights into how best to engage customers. Its first two modules, SAS 360 Discover and SAS 360 Engage, were released two weeks ago; more capabilities will follow later this year. SAS 360 Discover looks at the behaviour of customers or prospects across digital properties, and provides reporting and insights based on that information. SAS 360 Engage uses the information from Discover, plus other sources, to improve interactions. The initial release will focus on the Web, with other inputs such as social media and email to follow.
By: Lynn Greiner