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SAS puts ML and analytics suite on Azure Marketplace

50-year-old software project provides a button the boss can click

Analytics stalwart SAS is making its cloud-based Viya platform available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace in the hopes users will be tempted by a clickable, pay-as-you-go option for its ML, data management, and analytics tools.

The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) software was first developed at North Carolina State University for analysis of agricultural data. The company that grew out of the project, the SAS Institute, was founded in 1976, and went on to benefit from growing interest in analytics across a broad set of industries during the client-server era.

Back in 2016, Forrester noted that SAS had been slow to embrace features such as public cloud deployment; open, API-enabled architectures; and support for other programming languages.

With more marketplace news to follow, SAS will be expecting to put the laggard tag behind it.

In May, SAS announced support for Python in its proprietary analytics studio. It also announced an on-premises version of its "cloud-native" AI, analytics, and data management platform Viya. It expects to be able to deploy in Kubernetes on-premises in Q3 of this year. The fully containerized service was released on Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and Red Hat OpenShift last year.

Bryan Harris, SAS CTO, told The Register Viya was already available in its container registry to download and deploy on AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. But the move to offer the software via Azure's marketplace would speed up deployments, he said.

"What's different about this is this it is out of the public marketplace. Through the cloud console subscription within Microsoft Azure, users can, with the click of a button, be up and running within an hour," he said.

The offer promises the "full analytics lifecycle" including data management, exploration, data visualization, and data reporting. It also offers the SAS Model Studio, which allows users to build machine learning model pipelines and model tournaments, and Model Manager, which registers those models and deploys them into the organization to score their performance, Harris said.

But keen observers of the cloud analytics and machine learning market might have noticed Microsoft sells its own Machine Learning Studio.

SAS promises users can pick and choose the elements they want from Microsoft and the tools they want from SAS. For example, role-based access to data can be set with the Microsoft environment and carried over to SAS. The same applies to data management, visualization, and model tournaments, Harris said.

"When you log into Viya you can see those assets in the existing tenant inside Azure, as if it's seamless to them. So that was one of the big efforts for the engineering team over the last few years [of the Microsoft] partnership," he said.

SAS also integrates with PowerPoint and Excel, with Word integration soon to follow, Harris added.

"We can take outcomes from SAS Viya and then drive them straight into the office products so that customers can communicate like they do naturally with their office products around the business."

SAS started with the Azure Marketplace because of its Microsoft partnership but aims to announce similar moves for AWS and Google cloud, Harris said. ®

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