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New SAS, SingleStore integration boosts speed, efficiency

The integration between the longtime data and analytics vendor and the upstart database vendor enables users to work with data in-database, which increases speed-to-insight.

SAS Institute, Inc., and SingleStore unveiled a new integration that will let joint customers work with their data where it's stored, leading to what the vendors say is increased speed and efficiency.

SAS is a data and analytics vendor founded in 1976 as part of North Carolina State University and now based in Cary, N.C. Its primary BI platform is SAS Viya, which was redesigned in 2020 to make it cloud native. In addition, the vendor offers SAS 9.4 to serve the needs of its customers that still deploy on premises.

SingleStore, meanwhile, is a database vendor founded in 2011 based in San Francisco whose database lets customers store data both on premises and in the cloud. The vendor was named MemSQL until 2020, and its database is known for the speed of its data ingestion and both query and transaction processing.

The integration

Historically, data analysts and data scientists have had to extract, transform, and load (ETL) data from of its database and into a data and analytics platform for modeling and analysis. And once they finished using the data for insight generation, they had to return it to its database, again going through the time-consuming ELT process.

The integration between SAS and SingleStore, revealed on Aug. 22 during the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Orlando, Fla., will let customers of SAS' data and analytics platform who use SingleStore's database to house their data prepare and model their data directly in SingleStore.

The results are reduced costs and complexity, increased productivity and faster time to insight, according to the vendors.

"As far as the customer is concerned, there is no SAS and SingleStore," said Raj Verma, SingleStore's CEO. "It's a very [seamless] environment."

SAS and SingleStore developed a strategic partnership in December 2020, and the new integration is a result of that partnership, he said.

Meanwhile, though both SAS and SingleStore have integrations with other vendors -- for example, SAS and Microsoft have a partnership under which Azure is the preferred cloud provider for SAS' products -- the integration between the two goes beyond what either has with any other vendor, according to Verma and SAS senior vice president, corporate programs Gavin Day.

"We have lots of technology partnerships with other database vendors … but nothing to this scale, nothing to this level of co-innovation and co-engineering," he said. "We have standard access into other databases, but that's from a connectivity perspective to get data from A to B. This is about changing the compute landscape from SAS' perspective."

We have lots of technology partnerships with other database vendors … but nothing to this scale, nothing to this level of co-innovation and co-engineering.
Gavin DaySenior vice president of technology, SAS

Similarly, Verma noted that SingleStore's platform works with other data and analytics vendors, but not with the same speed and efficiency it now works with SAS.

"We have standard connectors, but this is an … integrated and thought-out vision we have together with SAS," he said.

SAS and SingleStore first began developing an integration based on customers' needs, according to Day.

But the depth of the partnership resulted when the companies realized they had a shared vision for data and analytics and had similar corporate cultures.

"There were absolutely customers who came to us with a problem to solve, but then we looked out at the market and started our conversations with SingleStore," Day said. "There were two things that stood out. One was the technology capabilities and Raj's vision of where he wants the technology to go, which matches our vision, and there was also a cultural fit between our two organizations."

Specifically, the two vendors have a similar go-to-market strategy and share certain organizational ideals, Day continued.

Another reason for the depth of the integration may be the presence of Oliver Schabenberger at SingleStore, according to Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research.

Schabenberger, who is now CIO at SingleStore, spent 19 years at SAS -- including three years as COO and CTO -- before moving to SingleStore in February 2021.

Meanwhile, the integration will significantly benefit joint customers of SAS and SingleStore, Henschen continued.

"Joint customers will enjoy the benefits of a tight, out-of-the-box integration that is maintained by the vendors rather than cobbled together and then maintained by these customers," he said. "The integration enables them to run SAS analytics directly against high-scale data in SingleStore, avoiding costly, time-consuming data movement."

A sample SAS dashboard
A sample SAS dashboard shows how an organization is using the vendor's BI tools to analyze scientific data.

The integration is not unique, however, according to Henschen.

While it may be the deepest integration for both SAS and SingleStore, other vendors have similar deep integrations. Henschen noted that SAS peers offering advanced analytics capabilities include Alteryx, Databricks, Dataiku, DataRobot and H20.ai, and all have significant arrangements with database vendors.

For example, Alteryx recently unveiled new integrations with Databricks, Snowflake and Google BigQuery, each of which lets users work with their data directly in its database.

Tech giants including AWS and Google also offer advanced analytics capabilities and integrate with their own database services.

Future plans

Now that SAS and SingleStore have made their integration generally available, the vendors plan to keep working together to develop and release new capabilities, including monthly SAS Viya releases that will include SingleStore.

"This release is the first," Day said. "This is the tip of the iceberg for the integrations we're planning."

SAS and SingleStore plan to work with joint customers to build tools that will benefit other users of both platforms.

"We are working with marquee customers to do some sort of innovation in this space," Verma said.But despite partnering with a rising vendor like SingleStore -- the database vendor recently raised $116 million in funding despite a difficult market for technology companies -- and despite the quality of its capabilities, SAS is having trouble attracting new customers, according to Henschen.

In a fractured field, it had the biggest market share as of 2020, according to research by Apps Run the World, but its growth declined by almost 5%.

"SAS is perceived as the legacy incumbent," Henschen said. "Sales have been flat in recent years, and the company has struggled to attract a younger generation of data scientists who have embraced open source options in a big way."

Perhaps its partnerships with SingleStore, Microsoft and other vendors whose tools are attracting new users can alter that trajectory.

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