Competitors in the growing business intelligence and analytics marketplace, Cary-based SAS and SAP (NYSE: SAP) have decided to join forces for a suite of products that incorporates technology from both firms and will be jointly sold by them in a pilot program.

The companies disclosed their plans Tuesday afternoon at an event in Las Vegas and also as part of SAS’ international media day at its Cary headquarters. the deal pairs up the world’s largest privately held software firms in SAS and one of the biggest in SAP. 

A SAS spokesperson confirmed that the partnership is the first between firms that pride themselves on analytics.

The deal is the latest in recent moves made by SAS in attempts to capitalize on the growing market for “big data” analytics – analyzing huge amounts of data from disparate sources at faster speeds. On Friday, SAS announced a partnership with Hortonworks, a leader in so-called Hadoops technology for use in handling large amounts of information at data centers.  

“SAS and SAP can help companies manage the massive volumes of information they are constantly dealing with and make sense out of it,” said Jim Goodnight, chief executive officer at SAS. “Between our two companies, we have the expertise and the products to help ensure that our customers can see and act on the power of performing advanced data analysis within their database and not outside of it.”

SAS and SAP say they will launch a “strategic partnership” that includes technology from SAS analytics and SAP’s so-called HANA program. They plan to work on the project through 2014.

“The collaboration between SAS and SAP is expected to harness the power of combined platforms while helping to eliminate data movement, duplication and reconciliation,” SAS said in a statement. “It will also enable massive parallelization of computationally intense workloads, all in-memory, enabling new big data [i.e. data across disparate locations] solutions that could not previously be delivered.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The companies believe they can capitalize together on in-memory functionality, which enables faster processing and analysis of data.

Here’s how SAS defines in-memory:

“SAS In-Memory Analytics divides analytic processes into easily manageable pieces with computations distributed in parallel across a dedicated set of blades [servers]. With SAS In-Memory Analytics, you can use big data and sophisticated analytics to tackle complex problems quickly, and solve dedicated, industry-specific business challenges faster than ever before.”

According to SAP, “SAP HANA converges database and application platform capabilities in-memory to transform transactions, analytics, text analysis, predictive and spatial processing so businesses can operate in real-time.”

“Combining the power of SAP HANA platform with SAS advanced analytics applications is the first wave of innovation we plan to deliver to our joint customers,” said Bill McDermott, co-CEO and member of the Executive Board of SAP AG. “With the powerful capabilities that the two companies plan to deliver jointly, the opportunities are endless.”

SAP is based in Germany and generates more than $20 billion in annual revenues. It offers enterprise application software and software-related services worldwide with a growing emphasis on analytics, cloud computing and mobile applications.

SAS could generate $3 billion or more this year.

[SAS ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of SAS stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]