SAS Teams With Microsoft To Offer Viya Analytics On Azure

SAS debuts a new containerized release of the Viya analytics and data management platform that, for the first time, is cloud-native and cloud-portable.


Big data analytics software developer SAS says its flagship Viya artificial intelligence, analytics and data management platform is now available as a cloud-native, cloud-portable system running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, integrated with Azure services.

SAS said Tuesday that the new containerized edition of Viya is available on Azure immediately with support for other cloud platforms, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Red Hat OpenShift, coming later this year.

“We’ve started with Microsoft Azure, given our strategic partnership with Microsoft, to ensure that we have deeper integrations with Azure,” said Bryan Harris, SAS chief technology officer, in an interview with CRN. “Microsoft is our preferred cloud provider because we believe there is a lot of value in the combination of both companies’ technologies,” he said.

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SAS also has integrated Viya with other Microsoft software, including Office 365 and the Microsoft Azure Synapse data warehouse system, making it possible for Viya to feed analytical results into those applications.

The Viya support for Azure is part of development work the two companies have been pursuing to support analytical workloads in the cloud, Harris said.

The two companies unveiled a broad strategic alliance in June 2020 to integrate SAS and Microsoft software. That alliance also includes making SAS software such as the Predict & Plan Consumer Demand analytical application, which runs on Viya, available through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

“For us, this is a massive effort to ensure that we can provide our core analytics platform with the ability to leverage all the cloud-native properties,” Harris said, noting that while 93 percent of SAS customers are still running their data analytics in on-premises data centers, many are looking to move those workloads to the cloud.

Businesses and organizations that use both SAS and Microsoft technologies have been asking for the two vendors to develop more interoperability between their products, said Casey McGee, Microsoft vice president of global ISV partner sales, in the interview with CRN.

“We are a platform company, first and foremost, so we look to companies like SAS to deliver IP [intellectual property] and innovation at the edge. SAS is bringing deep experience in analytics, deep customer relationships and industry expertise that 44 years of experience has brought the company.”

While Microsoft does market its own business analytics software, McGee said the SAS-Microsoft alliance is an acknowledgement that many customers use software from both companies and that “SAS’s solutions are leading the industry.”

The availability of Viya on Azure and extended integrations will benefit channel partners – especially systems integrators such as KPMG and Accenture – that work with both vendors, McGee said.

“If you take your typical systems integrator, they are looking for value-added engagements that go from cloud to the edge and this is the type of partnership that systems integrators and services partners will value,” he said. “They’ll be in a better position to deliver value to the customer and, I think, those engagements are more strategic in nature.”

SAS is also working to unify Viya with the company’s older SAS 9 platform, allowing the company’s vast portfolio of analytical software to run on Viya. (Viya is SAS’ newer generation analytics platform with the company’s latest AI and machine learning capabilities while SAS 9 is the vendor’s original statistical analysis platform.)

“That’s a larger story of unification for us,” Harris said.