SAS expands cloud analytics on back of 35% annual revenue spurt

SAS opens a new building at its headquarters to support cloud analytics

SAS founder and CEO Jim Goodnight (pictured) was joined by North Carolina state governor Pat McGrory in the opening of a new building at the analytics provider’s headquarters in Cary.

The company is expanding its cloud analytics service on the back of a 35% increase in cloud revenue, said Goodnight. The new building will house the SAS OnDemand team, headed by John Brocklebank, who also heads the supplier’s lead advanced analytics lab in Cary.

Brocklebank has worked for SAS since 1981, and has led the supplier’s “as a service” activity since 2000, when he set up its application service provider (ASP) business.

“We’re looking for unusual behaviour,” said Brocklebank, explaining the core of the supplier’s analytics in fraud detection and other disciplines. “The cloud enables us to be cost efficient, but my main concern is security. We handle the most sensitive data on the planet, so we do lots of monitoring.”

SAS Cloud Analytics is a service that provides access to analytics, whether data lives in a customer’s own cloud, the SAS cloud or a third-party cloud, such as Amazon Web Services. SAS reports more than 400 customers in 70 countries.

One customer cited at the opening ceremony was Dignity Health, a US healthcare provider. Dignity is working with SAS to build a cloud-based, big data analytics platform to optimise patient treatment through better data analysis. The project aims to reduce re-admission rates, improve methods of addressing congestive heart failure and sepsis, and manage pharmacy costs.

The building is an example of how closely SAS works with the US government sector. It will house the firm’s Analytics Lab for state and local government. 

“In 2011, we promised to add 100 highly qualified professionals dedicated to helping our state and local government customers. We did better, growing it another 90% by hiring 224 people in that area,” said Goodnight.

The company said the lab’s data analysis had led a local healthcare provider, Wake County EMS, to change its recommendations for how long to continue CPR on cardiac-arrest patients. As a result, 100 people who would have died under the previous guidelines are alive today because of the new standard, the company said.

The cloud enables us to be cost efficient, but my main concern is security. We handle the most sensitive data on the planet, so we do lots of monitoring

John Brocklebank, SAS

Goodnight said SAS has delivered 27 new data management and analytics products and added features to another 160 in the past year. 

SAS’s data visualisation tool, Visual Analytics, launched two years ago, is now licensed at more than 2,600 customer sites. 

Goodnight added that the company will expand its portfolio that supports the Hadoop Distributed File System, which he characterised as “resilient” and well suited to analytic exploration by SAS technology.

“It’s a great combination. We are working with Hadoop distributors Cloudera, HortonWorks, and so on,” he said.

The European region, however, is performing less well than the Americas and Asia-Pacific, according to Goodnight. 

“It is still an uncertain economy, with a lot of hesitancy about spending. Europe was not hit that badly [by the recession from 2008 onwards], but it seems to have caught up with it. There seem to be some concerns with oil and gas supply, given the relationships with Russia,” he said.

Some 70% of the contracting firms behind the building’s construction are based locally in North Carolina and more than half the artists whose work is displayed throughout the building live in the state.

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