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Analyse this! SAS and Microsoft in analytics and AI partnership

As corporate treasury becomes more data-driven, the data analytics market is becoming increasingly important to keep an eye on. In light of that, the recent announcement that Microsoft and SAS have announced an extensive technology and go-to-market strategic partnership is of particular interest. The two companies will enable customers to run their SAS workloads in the cloud, which is designed to allow companies to expand their business solutions and unlock value from digital transformation initiatives. 

As part of the partnership, the companies will migrate SAS’ analytical products and industry solutions onto Microsoft Azure as the preferred cloud provider for the SAS Cloud. SAS’ industry solutions and expertise will also bring added value to Microsoft’s customers across health care, financial services and many other industries. This partnership builds on SAS integrations across Microsoft cloud solutions for Azure, Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365 and Power Platform and supports the companies’ shared vision to further democratise artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics.

“Through this partnership, Microsoft and SAS will help our customers accelerate growth and find new ways to drive innovation with a broad set of SAS Analytics offerings on Microsoft Azure,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud and AI at Microsoft. “SAS, with its recognised expertise in analytics, data science and machine learning, is a strategic partner for Microsoft, and together we will help customers across dozens of industries and horizontals address their most critical and complex analytical challenges.”

Real life benefits

Organisations around the world are moving to the cloud to innovate and move faster toward their business goals. As part of this transition, many customers, like St. Louis-based health system Mercy, are migrating their SAS analytic workloads to Azure to improve performance and cost-efficiency.

“At Mercy, we’re focused on how to continuously improve patient care and outcomes, and realise the role of data analytics and machine learning in bringing that focus to light," said Curtis Dudley, vice president of Data Analytics at Mercy. "Working with SAS and Microsoft, we can capitalise on analytics software and the Azure cloud platform to strengthen our ability to harness Real World Evidence for improved outcomes and more informed care. We’re excited about the potential for increased speed, scalability and an expanded catalogue of analytics solutions the SAS and Microsoft partnership brings in helping us deliver a new care model.”

A powerful combination

To provide a seamless experience and help organisations accelerate their cloud transformation initiatives, SAS and Microsoft are working together to ensure that SAS products and solutions can be successfully deployed and run effectively on Azure.

“SAS and Microsoft have a shared vision of helping customers accelerate their digital transformation initiatives," said Oliver Schabenberger, chief technology officer and chief operating officer at SAS. "We both understand that it is about enrichment of data and improving lives through better decisions. Partnering with Microsoft gives customers a more seamless path to the cloud that provides faster, more powerful and easier access to SAS solutions and enables trusted decisions with analytics that everyone - regardless of skill level - can understand.”

This will include optimising SAS Viya, the latest release of the company’s cloud-native offering, for Azure as well as integrating SAS’ deep portfolio of industry solutions, from fraud to risk to retail, into the Azure Marketplace to provide improved productivity and enhanced business outcomes for customers.

“The partnership between SAS as a leader in the analytics space, and Microsoft as a leader in cloud makes for an interesting strategic alliance," commented Steve White, program vice president, Channels and Alliances at IDC. "With SAS planning to build integrations across Microsoft’s entire cloud portfolio (Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 & Power BI) it opens up a lot of joint solution potential.” 

Capturing IoT data

Additionally, through the partnership, Microsoft and SAS will explore opportunities to integrate SAS analytics capabilities, including industry-specific models, within Azure and Dynamics 365 and build new market-ready joint solutions for customers that are natively integrated with SAS services across multiple vertical industries. This further integration is designed to enable SAS customers to capitalise on the scalability and flexibility of the cloud for their analytics and AI workloads. For example, Microsoft and SAS are already providing customers with solutions that help them capitalise at scale on the vast amount of data being generated by the Internet of Things by combining Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform with SAS’ edge-to-cloud IoT analytics and AI capabilities. Currently, the town of Cary, North Carolina, in the US is using a joint IoT offering from Microsoft and SAS to power a critical flood prediction solution.

"Localised flooding is something all communities experience, and ours is no exception," said Nicole Raimundo, Cary's chief information officer. "Using sensors, weather data, SAS IoT analytics and the Azure IoT platform, we expect to increase situational awareness of rising stream levels, predict where flooding might occur, and improve our emergency response through automation. Cary is also proud to be able to share this data with our neighbouring communities to help them better serve their citizens."

Supported with joint co-selling and go-to-market activities, additional SAS products and solutions will begin rolling out later this year. This will enable SAS and Microsoft customers to address some of their most critical and complex analytical challenges while fostering continuous innovation. SAS is also committed to using Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 to power its internal operations.

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