SAS targeting SMB market and considering a channel program

SAN FRANCISCO – While business intelligence and data analytics vendor SAS Institute is primarily focused on the enterprise market, company executives told CDN the company is moving into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market and is considering launching a channel program to help it capture that market opportunity.

In an interview at the annual SAS Executive Forum conference, SAS president and CEO Jim Goodnight told CDN that the vendor’s internal sales team is now targeting the SMB space.

“For $10,000, you can buy a single blade that allows you to handle just about all the data you’d need for am SMB, and we’re encouraging that,” said Goodnight.

While the hardware is now at least affordable for the midmarket, Jim Davis, SAS senior vice-president and CMO, told CDN that the SAS-hosted model for its big data and visual analytics products, and the soon to launch cloud versions, make SAS offerings affordable to a wider swath of the SMB market.

Licensing can be constrained by hardware, based on the number of cores, and departmental licenses are also available beginning at 10 users.

“We’re selling closed deals for visual analytics on Amazon Web Services, for instance,” said Davis. “We can do this in a public or private cloud or we can host and add analytics.”

With a move into the SMB opening up a much larger addressable market for SAS, along with the growing interest in big data and analytics, it’s unclear how much of the market SAS could hope to capture with a direct selling model. Particularly when competitors such as IBM and SAP all utilize the channel as a route to market. Davis said SAS is currently considering a change in its route to market to address this.

“We’re looking at a channel model right now,” said Davis. “We’re not ready to announce or commit to a direction right now. Demand is coming our way and we’re trying to decide how to best address that market, whether it’s an additional tier or more inside sales. But the demand is definitely there.”

If SAS does go to the channel it won’t be with an appliance, as SAP has done with HANA, its own in-memory analytics solution, to help simplify the offering for the SMB space. Goodnight and Davis said SAS will definitely not be getting into the hardware business.

“IBM is trying to sell its x86 business. There’s not a lot of money in hardware,” said Goodnight. “We can have HP or Dell pre-install everything on the hardware, so it’s completely installed and ready to run.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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