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Performance, Analytics and Governance Key Benefits of Teradata and SAS Partnership

Originally published June 28, 2016

This BeyeNETWORK article features Ron Powell’s interview with Tho Nguyen. Tho is the director of technology at Teradata, and Ron is an independent analyst and expert who works with the BeyeNETWORK and the Business Analytics Collaborative. Tho and Ron discuss the eight-year partnership between Teradata and SAS and the benefits this relationship brings to their joint customers.

What do you do at Teradata?

Tho Nguyen: My role at Teradata is to manage and support the SAS relationship. SAS and Teradata have been partners for 8 years now, and we have completely integrated the SAS analytics portfolio into the Teradata platform family.

The partnership has been very strategic for both companies as well as our joint customers who asked us to come together to optimize the environments to run faster, to make SAS analytics run more effectively and efficiently inside a data warehouse, and also to look at ways to optimize the data processing and analytics.

We have dedicated resources from both sides. Both Teradata and SAS have dedicated alliance teams. We also have a joint road map and R&D resources. SAS is based in Cary, North Carolina. We have a host of folks from Teradata who reside on the SAS Campus. That includes the alliance team and also the R&D team. They work side by side with the SAS engineers to help us deliver solutions to the market based on customers’ feedback. 

In addition to all of that, we have a Center of Excellence (CoE) team, consisting of subject-matter experts in both SAS and Teradata. They evaluate how customers are using SAS and Teradata to determine what can be done to streamline the processing of data within an assessment workshop. These experts are not only well-versed at the business level, but they are also very knowledgeable from the IT side. So the Center of Excellence is more like a marriage counselor. They go in and bring together the IT and the business side of a company to talk about the issues and pains that they have so that they can solve the problems and, of course, look at ways to optimize SAS running inside of Teradata. 

There are a lot of challenges that enterprises are facing with regard to big data. How has this relationship been able to address these big data challenges and how important has it been in delivering value to the business?

Tho Nguyen: Both sides are committed to big data and beyond big data. Big data has high volume, high velocity and variety. But regardless of whether data is big or small, we see the value in integrating data management and analytics. What SAS and Teradata have done is look at ways of integrating and streamlining what an IT person would do and what a business person would do.

On the IT side, they are very heavily focused on data management. So we have streamlined the process to make sure the data is cleansed, integrated and available for the business analyst to do analytics. 

The partnership is centered around three pillars: performance, economics and governance. For example, with regard to performance, you don’t have to duplicate the data, you don’t have to move the data, nor do you need to create a silo or a data mart for the business analyst to take advantage of and use data outside the data warehouse.  

The in-database processing, what I call it, is a way for analysts to look at ways to analyze data where data resides – which is mostly in data warehouses or databases. In-database cuts the data movement as well as eliminates the data copying to a separate server for analysis. That’s one way that we tie IT and the business together  the strategy is to apply analytics where the data resides.

On the other hand, we also incorporate in-memory, which is very complementary with in-database. In-database has certain functions – analytics and data preparation. In-memory is all about accelerating analytics. SAS and Teradata have been pioneers in looking at ways to improve the in-memory analytics.  SAS has created a number of products that are exclusively for Teradata. On the Teradata side, we have produced a Teradata appliance for SAS – all for in-memory analytics. It can be connected to a Teradata platform, such as a data warehouse, data mart or data appliance, and via BYNET the memory is allocated only for SAS. Data is lifted through BYNET from a data warehouse into in-memory to do the analytics. 

Customers may need both in-database and in-memory, depending on their business. If they have numerous models to build that require scoring capabilities, they would want an in-memory dedicated appliance just for SAS as it’s much faster. Or, on the other hand, when you have some bottlenecks through the network or a large amount of data you need to analyze, in-database would be the best choice. We have customers using both due to the fact that they want to prepare the data in-database, do some analysis of the data in-database, and then do some data exploration in-memory using SAS Visual Analytics on the Teradata Appliance for SAS (Model 750), build the models there and then push back to the database for scoring.

Are there certain industries or regions where this partnership is providing the greatest value?

Tho Nguyen: We have horizontal adoption globally across various industries – financial, banking, telecommunications, retail, even government. We have developed specific vertical industries around banking, telco and retail. Verticals are starting to pop up but because our horizontal offerings are in such high demand, it can be applied to any industry. We are seeing adoption in North and South America and also in EMEA – Europe, Middle East and Africa – and also Asia Pacific.

SAS and Teradata have been partners for more than eight years and have expanded our portfolio to not only the mature industries, but also emerging industries. 

Teradata has also developed a next-generation appliance for SAS analytics. I believe you call that the Teradata Appliance for SAS High Performance Analytics. Can you explain how this differs from the SAS Managed Server and give us an example of its benefits?

Tho Nguyen: The SAS Managed Server© is very much for the traditional SAS© products such as BASE SAS, Enterprise Miner, Enterprise Guide, SAS STAT, and so on. That’s the traditional side that can be enabled in SAS Managed Server. The Teradata Appliance for SAS is for the in-memory products, which are the newer technologies such as Visual Analytics, Visual Statistics, high performance analytics products that have six domains such as high-performance data mining, text mining, econometrics, statistics and so on. The Teradata Appliance for SAS has specific nodes that run the in-memory analytics. When you purchase this appliance, the nodes are available to run the analytics from SAS for the in-memory side and all the nodes are dedicated to processing the in-memory using the embedded processing and the laser server.  So you can have in-memory running the high-performance analytics on the Teradata Appliance for SAS and then you can have SAS Managed Server in the same box to run the traditional SAS products. That gives you the entire capability of SAS inside Teradata.

From a customer perspective, is the importance of this integrated portfolio strictly performance?

Tho Nguyen: Performance and economics with minimal process changes or training to adopt a new approach for doing analytics. And there is also governance. So the three pillars resonate very well with SAS and Teradata – performance, economics and governance. Governance is highly critical due to the fact that IT is able to measure the data – what’s being used and when it’s being used – and the business side can access it when they need to.

How does the SAS Managed Server and the Teradata Appliance for SAS integrate with Teradata’s Unified Data Architecture?

Tho Nguyen: SAS sits in the center of the Unified Data Architecture. The Unified Data Architecture (UDA) has the data platform very much like Hadoop, the integrated data warehouse, and then the discovery platform. Picture those three and then SAS sits in the middle. Data can go from the data platform, data warehouse and discovery platform into SAS for analysis and can then distribute those results back to the various platforms as well.
We have customers where it is being used exactly that way, where SAS is the analytics platform to analyze the various data points from the individual UDA – whether from Hadoop, the data warehouse or the discovery.   

Give us some specific examples of how Teradata and SAS and delivering ROI for your customers.

Tho Nguyen: As a result of the partnership between SAS and Teradata we have reduced the typical analytics cycle from hours or weeks down to minutes and seconds. For example: There is an e-commerce company that uses in-database that took them from weeks down to hours for processing their analytics. We have another customer on the retail side that utilized in-memory to develop their models reducing their time from weeks and months to just several hours. Now they’re able to score thousands of models overnight.

Combining in-database and in-memory, we have another customer that is preparing their data in-database, and then they develop the data models in-memory, and then push it back out in-database for scoring. That has not only gained them performance, but also ROI in thousands of dollars looking at the ways that more customers are purchasing things through the retail side. The tangible benefits we talked about are the performance and the integration. The intangible benefits, to me, are more important. People are excited about these technologies. They’re able to retain talent at their organization because they’re doing strategic things – not the tactical things. And they’re able to do the things with analytics they were hired to do and not just prepare the data, push it around and wait for results.

What’s next?

Tho Nguyen: We’re very excited. There are lots of new offerings that SAS and Teradata are working on. One of the new offerings that we’re looking at is streams – event-stream processing and integrating that with Teradata Listener, which is new as well. That’s one perspective. The other offering is with services. So we’re looking at expanding the services provided by our Center of Excellence team to include in-cloud delivery. The third offering that we’re looking at is the ways analytics is evolving. So we talk about the predictive analytics and we talk about descriptive analytics. Combining them together now is called prescriptive analytics. These are just some of the future offerings being provided as a result of the partnership.

If you had to highlight an example of tremendous ROI, what would it be?

Tho Nguyen: In the financial industry, there is a bank that used in-memory analytics before they were running a regression model that took 167 hours to process. And with in-memory analytics, they’re able to run it within 84 seconds. And that is an example just for one model. Just imagine how much it can benefit your organization if you have many more models that can take advantage of in-memory. 

Thanks for taking the time to discuss the Teradata and SAS relationship. 

  • Ron PowellRon Powell
    Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at rpowell@powellinteractivemedia.com. 

    More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

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