IBM and SAS Extend Partnership

IBM and SAS Institute (Cary, N.C.) have reached a new level of partnership with the latest expansion of their decades-old business relationship.

The world’s largest IT company and the world’s largest privately held software company announced at PartnerWorld 2000 that they have entered into a strategic agreement which calls for the creation of a specialized consulting practice and closer integration among their respective products. Under the three-year agreement, IBM and SAS will engage in both joint development and joint marketing efforts for their business intelligence solutions.

The new businessrelationship betweenIBM and SAS “willallow us toimplement newsolutions faster andmake existingsolutions morerobust,” says BenBarnes, generalmanager, IBM GlobalBusiness IntelligenceSolutions.”
A key component of the agreement will be the establishment of a specialized consulting practice within IBM Global Services specializing in SAS solutions. IBM consultants will work with mutual customers to integrate SAS solutions with existing systems and IBM e-business applications.

“What that means is that we’ll have a number of people now in IBM Global Services who understand and have knowledge of SAS solutions in a way that has never been possible before,” says Ben Barnes, IBM general manager for global business intelligence solutions.

In the development sphere, the new agreement means closer integration of SAS solutions and IBM’s DB2 to enhance performance on all IBM server platforms. IBM Global Services will provide analytical services and systems integration, and SAS will provide software solutions. This collaboration, Barnes says, will allow both companies to “implement new solutions faster and make existing solutions more robust.”

According to John McIntyre, SAS director for global marketing, the companies’ initial joint effort will be focused on Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, solutions.

“Both of us see the growing need to provide solutions for people who really are reinventing their whole business strategy,” McIntyre said.Bob Moran, VP of Decision Support Research at Aberdeen Group, says both business intelligence leaders stand to benefit from the agreement. Moran says that in the future the most successful e-businesses will not be the upstart “dot-coms” but rather what he referred to as “click-and-mortars.” That is, “brick-and-mortar” businesses that have an extensive Web presence. Those companies, which will need to find efficient ways to relate and integrate all the components of their business channels, will look to suppliers who can provide end-to-end solutions and services like those IBM and SAS hope to produce through their partnership.

“That requires experts in every aspect, and I think that’s really the stuff behind this announcement,” Moran explains. “Here, you’re taking the DB2 that’s the crown jewel of IBM, and decision support—with data warehousing, data mining—that’s the crown jewel of SAS, and they’re going into the same chest.”

SAS has been an IBM business partner for about a decade and a solution provider for IBM platforms for over 20 years. Last year, the two companies created an organization called the International Competency Center, which was designed “to help customers understand how to size and configure and test-drive SAS products on an IBM server,” according to Barnes.

“We’ve had a working relationship with SAS for some time in the server division, and we felt it was the right point in time to start a relationship with some of the other IBM divisions,” Barnes says of the latest announcement.

Mike Reed, an analyst with technologyevaluation.com, said in a Jan. 31 published analysis that customers should consider taking advantage of the new agreement, but cautioned users to be mindful of the possibility that it could be no more than a new marketing tool.

“We believe that the combination of SAS’ strong business intelligence solutions and IBM’s global sales and consulting forces will make a powerful combination,” Reed wrote. “The question for customers will be whether this is just a marketing alliance or an actual combination of powerful products at the code level, allowing customers to seamlessly integrate the products.”

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