SAS Releases Long-Awaited Version 9

SAS Institute calls its new technology the "most significant" software release in its history.

CARY, N.C.—SAS Institute Inc. announced Tuesday the release of its SAS 9 platform, nearly three years after company officials first began to preview the technology.

Buffeted by increasing competition in the predictive analytics software space, the companys new technology is designed to be easier to use than previous versions of the business intelligence and analytics platform. SAS officials here called SAS 9 the "most significant" software release in the companys 28-year history.

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, speaking at a launch event here Tuesday morning, conceded that there was a lot of "confusion" in the business intelligence market and accused other BI software vendors of "defining business intelligence to meet their needs.

"Intelligence is one of the most strategic assets companies have," said Goodnight. "Competitors are calling themselves leaders, when their software only helps companies to see the past."

Goodnight said SAS 9 gives companies the ability to "learn from the past, manage the present and predict the future, then make that intelligence available to everybody in the organization."

He added: "Weve been doing predictive analytics longer and better than anyone else."

SAS 9 moves the technology "beyond the back office into mainstream business," Goodnight said. "The needs of power users vary greatly from the needs of information consumers. Information can be delivered in just the right context. Employees at every level have access to information that no [other vendor] can produce."

All SAS technologies will be unified on this platform, Goodnight said, providing a "single version of the truth."

Usability is only one part of the story. Performance enhancements are also key to this release. SAS 9, first unveiled nearly three years ago, was initially known as Project Mercury because it was designed to increase performance of the technology, giving users faster access to information through multi-threaded processing. SAS 9 includes the Intelligence Platform for data integration, business reporting and analytics plus enhanced optimization and predictive analytics designed to specifically address ease-of-use issues.

Enhanced analytics include predictive and descriptive modeling, forecasting, simulation, optimization, design of experiments, support for PMML scoring code to ease deployment, and a Web-based repository for reuse of predictive models.

SASs core data mining and text mining products—Enterprise Miner and Text Miner—get new Java interfaces in this release and continue to feature cross-integration between the two applications, also designed to improve ease of use, SAS officials said.

Company officials promised that the software, traditionally the province of highly skilled workers with advanced statistical analysis and data mining backgrounds, will "turn every employee into a knowledge worker," with business users being able to run complex analyses without special training. SAS officials estimate that more than 80 percent of the users in an organization will have access to SAS 9 technologies.

"Quite simply, [SAS 9] is our future," said Art Cooke, president of SAS International. "Its the most important release SAS has ever had."

SAS plans to deliver seven software solutions on the SAS 9 Intelligence Platform this year, including SAS Marketing Automation, Risk Dimensions, Strategic Performance Management, Financial Management, Supplier Relationship Management, Activity-Based Management and IT Management.

All of these software solutions have been previously released on prior versions of the SAS platform. They will be released on SAS 9 throughout the second and third quarters.

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