Local Tech Wire

CARY, N.C. – SAS is rolling out a new service in a move seeking to capitalize on the growth of collaborative computing and ever-increasing amounts of data.

Titled , the SAS offering includes proprietary, patent-pending technology called SAS In-Memory Analytics.

The intent is to provide answers to what SAS describes as “complex business questions” in real time.

SAS spokesperson Steve Poililli described the advance as "an innovative architecture that takes a massive problem, breaks it into little pieces on different processor cores within a server, runs them all in paralell and achieves a remarkable increase in speed.

"And the really cool part," he added, "is that it happens on a computer made up of commodity processors, not some specialized super computer."

According to SAS, its new system computed a portfolio of financial information in three minutes instead of the 18 hours that would be required by processing on a single server.

SAS says tests for retail processing enabled “store-specific merchandise plans” for millions of what it called “product-location combinations.”

Early users include Macy’s and United Overseas bank, SAS said in announcing the service at a conference in Berlin. (At the same event, SAS also of a security intelligence firm in the U.K.)

SAS also rolled out a new product for enterprises called Governance Risk Compliance that is designed to enable company leaders share information, better manage risk and ensure regulatory compliance.

The SAS high-performance solution utilizes HP BladeSystem Infrastructure servers in a private grid to deliver the service.

Running on the Linux operating system, HP will ship the servers loaded with the SAS software.

The servers will use Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Polilli told Local Tech Wire.

"One server is required but can be sized by HP to each customer’s requirements," Polilli explained. "The processors are on rack-mount blades in that server.

"For example, the risk management application in the release that used to take 18 hours and now runs in three minutes, that configuration involved 1,664 processors (x86 architecture) distributed on 196 rack-mount blades. But it was all a single server configuration."

Specific offerings include risk, performance assortment planning and markdown optimization.

“The unique method by which SAS is distributing complex workloads is allowing us to perform even the most complex analysis in a fraction of the time,” Larry Lewark, chief information officer at Macy’s, said in a statement from SAS’ announcement. “We view this as a major breakthrough for quickly analyzing and modeling color/size intensive product data across hundreds of store locations concurrently.”

SAS also offers other high-performance solutions, include what it calls “in-database computing” as well as a grid computing offering.

The new offering is scheduled for availability later this year.

"The solutions we are delivering that use in-memory analytics are specific for the risk management and retail applications noted in the release," Polilli said. "This is not really something where a third-party service provider would be involved.

"As for these solutions being delivered as a service by SAS, that is technically possible, but we haven’t made plans to deliver it that way," he added. "To date, the customers who are evaluating the solutions have indicated that they would install the software on-premise."

Pricing has not been determined, Polilli said.

“Our customers face growing problems that challenge current computing techniques,” said SAS Chief Executive Officer Jim Goodnight. “SAS High-Performance Computing breaks down highly complex tasks into groups of much smaller problems, distributing those across many processors with the data in-memory. Rapid analysis delivers better answers faster, and a boost to competitiveness and profitability.”

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