Analytics industry mainstays SAP and SAS took a page from business books about the concept of “co-opetition,” announcing an alliance the companies said would bring high-performance analytics from SAS to SAP’s HANA in-memory computing platform.
“Aren’t SAP and SAS competitors?” asked Russ Cobb, a SAS executive, during a briefing session for reporters on October 22. In fact, while SAS in the past 18 months has advanced its own in-memory analytics and partnered with Teradata on an in-memory analytics appliance, Cobb said the move to collaborate with SAP was a continuation of its long-term strategy to drive the performance of its offerings.
The two companies are calling their agreement a strategic partnership “to create a joint technology and product roadmap” designed to incorporate the HANA platform into SAS applications, and enable SAS algorithms to run on HANA.
“It’s really about moving analytics to the data,” said Cobb, vice president of global alliances at SAS. “We have been doing that in a heavy way” over the past several years, he added. By pushing analytical processing to the data, without moving it or replicating it from one data store location to another, application developers can improve the performance of their systems and speed the time it takes to get answers to questions. “When you think about the large volumes of data customers work with, moving that data is a bad idea. You want to move calculations toward where the data sits,” added Ingo Brenckmann, a senior development manager at SAP.
The partners are working to identify four or five application areas to focus on in the next 90 days. Interesting potential use cases include marketing analytics, such as analyzing the effectiveness of customer campaigns, and customer service analytics, risk management, and asset optimization.
Customers, notably global consulting firms and system integrators like Deloitte and Accenture, were driving voices for this new partnership, executives from SAS and SAP said. Cobb noted that in September, Accenture signed on to sell marketing analytics systems running on SAP HANA, a symbol of growing interest in the field.
With consultancies engaged in analytics projects, and many large enterprises using both SAP and SAS products, it suggests opportunities for the companies to expand their business.
Indeed, the SAP-SAS partnership gives both vendors the opportunity to cover more bases for enterprises—and especially, system integrators and consultants—that choose to assemble optimal analytics systems, said Madan Sheina, lead analyst for Ovum’s information management practice. Sheina note that SAP continues to have other initiatives, and it recently purchased predictive analytics vendor KXEN to flesh out is portfolio.
“Both of these companies are competitors in the same space, both have analytics platforms that overlap. But this is more about co-opetition and co-innovation,” Sheina said, adding that it will be worth revisiting later to see how the companies follow through on execution.