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Software // Information Management
Commentary
3/25/2009
09:48 AM
Curt Monash
Curt Monash
Commentary
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SAS Enters Its Own Cloud

The Register has a fairly detailed article about SAS expanding its cloud/SaaS offerings. I disagree with one assertion; namely, I fail to see why SAS's campus would be better than leading hosting companies' data centers for either data privacy/security or data upload speed...

The Register has a fairly detailed article about SAS expanding its cloud/SaaS offerings. I disagree with one part, namely:

SAS may not have a choice but to build its own cloud. Given the sensitive nature of the data its customers analyze, moving that data out to a public cloud such as the Amazon EC2 and S3 combo is just not going to happen.

And even if rugged security could make customers comfortable with that idea, moving large data sets into clouds (as Sun Microsystems discovered with the Sun Grid) is problematic. Even if you can parallelize the uploads of large data sets, it takes time.

But if you run the applications locally in the SAS cloud, then doing further analysis on that data is no big deal. It's all on the same SAN anyway, locked down locally just as you would do in your own data center.

I fail to see why SAS's campus would be better than leading hosting companies' data centers for either data privacy/security or data upload speed. Rather, I think major reasons for SAS building its own data center for cloud computing probably focus on:

  • Choice of hardware. SAS works hard with hardware engineers to optimize its software for specific platforms. Also, last I looked, it was still pretty SMP-oriented, SAS's deal with Teradata notwithstanding, but that speaks more against the Amazon cloud than it does against some of the more classic SaaS hosts.
  • Why not? (Part 1) Yes, bigger SaaS vendors than SAS have chosen to outsource their hosting, notably Salesforce.com. Still, SAS's effort seems big enough to get reasonable economies of scale.

  • Why not? (Part 2) To the extent SAS finds hosting difficult - well, even that's a benefit. It informs the development operation what it needs to do to make the software more manageable. True, Oracle, SAP et al. don't seem persuaded by similar reasoning - but SAS has always marched to the beat of its own drum.

  • Return to its roots. Unless I'm terribly mistaken, SAS started out in the 1970s as a time-sharing vendor just as Information Builders did. (And unlike IBI, SAS has never gotten away from focusing o recurring revenue.)
The Register has a fairly detailed article about SAS expanding its cloud/SaaS offerings. I disagree with one assertion; namely, I fail to see why SAS's campus would be better than leading hosting companies' data centers for either data privacy/security or data upload speed...

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