To help close the analytics skills gap, SAS is offering a free version of its software via Amazon Web Services (AWS) for students, educators, researchers and anyone who wants to learn about SAS's offerings.

The move, announced at SAS Global Forum, arrives one week after Amazon announced impressive AWS cloud growth figures that included strong operating profits.

Shfting Business Model

SAS University Edition, launched in May 2014, originally was a free download for standalone PC, Mac and Linux workstations. That platform is now available on-demand through AWS Marketplace. The software runs in Amazon's cloud, meaning no download is required.

Like many analytics companies, SAS has been working more closely with AWS in recent months. SAS in August 2014 announced offerings that work on Amazon Redshift, Amazon Elastic MapReduce and AWS Test Drive. Moreover, customers such as Lenovo and FANCL run SAS on AWS, SAS says. In 2014, SAS' revenue from cloud offerings grew 24 percent worldwide -- though the company did not disclose actual revenue figures.

Bigger Picture

Many on-premises analytics software providers have been working overtime to introduce cloud versions of their wares. For instance, 95 percent of Oracle's software will be available via the cloud by October 2015, according to CEO Mark Hurd. Similarly, IBM has been launching cloud versions of its BI, analytics and Watson software offerings.

At the same time, cloud companies have been introducing a range of big data and analytics services that are available on-demand for customers. For instance, dozens of companies now offer Hadoop on demand as cloud service. Plus, major public cloud providers are building big data and analytics services directly into their platforms. In recent weeks Amazon recently introduced a machine learning tool to take BI mainstream; Google Cloud Platform gained more big data capabilities; and Microsoft Azure emerged as the fastest-growing public cloud -- thanks at least in part to big data, analytics and SQL capabilities.

For its part, SAS is making a range of strategic moves this week at the SAS Global Forum Conference in Dallas. In addition to the cloud effort, SAS has also introduced IT security research and a new SAS Cybersecurity platform that's slated to ship in the fall of 2015.


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