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SAS Goes International With Reseller Efforts

Nine months after launching its domestic reseller program, SAS Institute is expanding its channel efforts beyond the United States into 13 countries and adding more business-intelligence software bundles tailored for small and midsize companies.

Nine months after launching its domestic reseller program, SAS Institute is expanding its channel efforts beyond the United States into 13 countries and adding more business-intelligence software bundles tailored for small and midsize companies.

Under SAS's latest plans, announced Tuesday, the channel program will be expanded to resellers in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, South Africa, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and India. The company already has enlisted more than a dozen solution providers internationally, including Syncer and Odesys in France, Morse in the United Kingdom, Prowerks in Canada, DiSo in Switzerland, and BPS and Octoplus in South Africa.

"It's a global challenge and a global opportunity," says Miles Mahoney, vice president of SAS' global alliances and channels group.

As the company builds up its infrastructure to support channel partners in countries like China and India, Mahoney says those efforts will also lead to new enterprise accounts for SAS. "Therein lies a greenfield opportunity for us," he says.

SAS also has increased the number of preintegrated software bundles it offers for sale to SMBs exclusively through the channel. Tuesday the company said its of nine SMB-focused packages includes SAS Data Integration for Midsize Business, SAS Enterprise BI for Midsize Business, SAS Statistical Pro for Midsize Business, SAS Desktop Data Mining for Midsize Business, and SAS Forecasting for Midsize Business. Pricing for the bundles start around $2,000.

The bundled applications are the biggest attraction for channel partners like Miami-based Qualex. The packages allow resellers to offer SMB customers sophisticated business-intelligence applications at costs 40 percent to 50 percent lower than typical enterprise-class BI software, says Ray Bower, business relationships manager at Qualex.

SAS also announced that it's assembling an on-demand demo center that channel partners can use to access SAS-hosted applications via the Web and to demonstrate them to potential customers. Work on the center is scheduled for completion in June.

Selling its sophisticated data analysis and information management applications to SMB customers through indirect channels is a big change for SAS, a privately held company with 2006 sales of $1.9 billion. While sales generated through the program remain a tiny piece of that, channel partners and industry watchers say the reseller program is expanding according to plan.

To date, SAS has recruited 62 resellers in the United States, Mahoney says, and those channel partners are servicing more than 100 customers. The company continues to target VARs that work with other business-intelligence software vendors, such as Business Objects and Cognos, and platform vendors, like IBM and Hewlett-Packard. The company hopes to boost its reseller roster to 160 by the end of this year, with about 100 in the United States and 60 split between Europe, the Middle East and Asia/Pacific.

SAS' goal is to have between 250 and 350 resellers generating 15 percent of new license revenue by the end of 2008, and 20 percent of new license sales by the close of 2010. The company ultimately expects 50 percent of its channel sales to come from outside the United States.

"I think they've started out on a good footing," says Paul Edwards, a software channel strategies analyst at International Data Corp.

He says the challenge for SAS will be keeping costs in line as it expands the program beyond North America, the United Kingdom and France, where the company has less supporting infrastructure. But, he says, devoting resources, such as free training for channel partners, as well as letting resellers keep a share of subscription renewal fees -- which account for 80 percent of SAS's revenue -- the company's commitment to its channel strategy.

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