Big Data

SAS bets on cloud and machine learning with new Viya analytics architecture

At the 2016 SAS Global Forum, the company unveiled its new, high performance analytics architecture and updated support for IoT analytics.

Image: Conner Forrest/TechRepublic

On Tuesday, analytics company SAS announced Viya, its new analytics and visualization architecture. A SAS spokeswoman said Viya would become the "foundation for all future SAS products."

The goal of Viya is to make analytics more accessible to all users and to better support cloud-native apps and data stored in the cloud.

The announcement came at the 2016 SAS Global Forum, the company's annual conference for SAS users and executives, which took place in Las Vegas. Viya will be available as part of an early adopter program in May, but it will reach general availability sometime in Q3 of 2016.

SEE: Quick glossary: Business intelligence and analytics (Tech Pro Research)

Scalability is a big part of the potential value of SAS Viya, as SAS is marketing it as being able to answer a wider variety of analytics questions, and usable by a larger audience.

"The open SAS Viya architecture makes analytics accessible to anyone, and we want to build upon that openness by creating a community for knowledge sharing," said SAS CMO Randy Guard. "Our users will be able to contribute code, procedures, visuals and services, and collaborate on ideas."

It's also flexible in that it can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises, and it's accessible through many popular public REST APIs, as well as programming languages like Python, Lua, And Java. Mike Frost, a senior product manager at SAS, said that it is available on any cloud and will also work in heavily regulated industries as well.

In data analytics, time is money—and SAS seems to address this with Viya. In the official announcement, SAS said Viya will "minimize the time between early-stage analytical exploration and the end result of business value."

As an architecture, SAS Viya is really a platform to provide other products and services. At the start, Viya will be available as a point-and-click interface or a programming interface, and will deliver four key tools:

  1. SAS Visual Analytics - A data discovery and visual analytics tool that lets users explore their data, do forecasting, build reports, and offers text analysis, among other tools.
  2. SAS Visual Statistics - A GUI tools that allows for predictive and descriptive modeling, as well as provides collaboration on analytics.
  3. SAS Visual Investigator - A new product that allows users to better manage and investigate their business intelligence and analytics in an effort to help combat fraud and get better results. According to the press release: "SAS Visual Investigator supports search, query and visualization of data, regardless of format, size and location, as well as investigations using geospatial, network, and temporal visualizations."
  4. SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning - Another new product that helps users source and prepare structured or unstructured data, and build machine learning models that can be deployed multiple times over.

At the Global Forum, SAS also announced SAS Analytics for IoT, a new software package that hopes to help enterprises better analyze and make use of the data coming from their sensors and connected devices. The software package filters data so users know what to store, finds patterns in the data, and offers real-time action based on signals received from connected devices.

SEE: Jim Goodnight: SAS CEO. Statistician. North Carolinian. (TechRepublic)

SAS Analytics for IoT is initially being marketed toward the energy, retail, and manufacturing industries. For example, Finnish crane manufacturer Konecranes uses the software to predict when maintenance is needed on specific machines.

As to why SAS is bringing a new architecture to market, it's two-fold. Frost said that, with Viya, the company wants to help innovative and disruptive companies become more stable and, conversely, its wants to help established organizations better compete against new startups.

SAS has long been considered one of the founding companies of the modern "big data" movement. However, as the enterprise continues to whet its appetite regarding data, the tools will need to change to accommodate those needs. SAS has been working to provide new tools that speak to how big data is evolving with last years predictive analytics tool Factory Miner, and now machine learning, it's clear that SAS is fighting to remain one of the key analytics providers for the enterprise.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. SAS recently announced Viya, a new architecture focused on cloud-based data and applications.
  2. SAS Viya brings two new products with it: SAS Visual Investigator for further investigating data analytics, and SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning.
  3. SAS also announced Analytics for IoT, a set of software to help SAS users better utilize data from their connected devices and sensors.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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