SAS Institute Preparing SaaS Channel Strategy

When you hear a name like SAS Institute, casual listeners may assume you compete in the SaaS (software as a service) market.

The VAR Guy

April 29, 2009

3 Min Read
SAS Institute Preparing SaaS Channel Strategy



When you hear a name like SAS Institute, casual listeners may assume you compete in the SaaS (software as a service) market. In reality, the folks at SAS run one of the world’s largest business intelligence software providers. Looking ahead, SAS Institute is preparing some SaaS surprises — and channel partners will be welcome to join the party. Here’s the scoop.

The VAR Guy got a brain dump Karl Schlatzer, SAS’ director of global business development & channels. Before diving into the SaaS portion of the discussion, Schlatzer offered some updates on SAS Institute’s partner program.

During its most recent quarter, SAS Institute’s channel business in the US grew 15 percent year over year — pretty impressive, considering most software companies are striving just to maintain their sales levels during the recession. Overall, SAS’s objective is to drive 15 percent of its revenue via the channel — not a huge figure but the company is pretty darn selective when it recruits and trains channel partners.

“We’re a high-touch company,” says Schlatzer. “Our founder [CEO Jim Goodnight]  has certain expectations for how customer is going to be treated. We work carefully to make sure our partners meet those expectations.”

While Oracle and IBM have gobbled up BI software providers, SAS remains independent and privately held. Sound dangerous? Too niche? Apparently not: SAS has delivered revenue growth every year since launch, and annual revenues hit $2.26 billion in 2008, up from $2.15 billion in 2007.

SAS on SaaS

Most of SAS’s sales involve on-premise deployments. But the company has hundreds  of customers quietly running SAS software in a hosted manner. Two years ago, partners and end-users did the bulk of the hosting. But increasingly, customers (and partners) depend on SAS’s own SAS Solutions OnDemand business, notes Schlatzer. “That business has been ramping rapidly,” he crows.

To be sure, SAS is making deep financial investments in SaaS, note the folks at ChannelWeb. In the months ahead, it’s safe to expect SAS to introduce customer intelligence and campaign management type solutions to the SaaS model, Schlatzer adds.

Where will partners fit into the mix? “It won’t be a ‘pure direct’ model,” says Schlatzer, “What the final models will be and how we intertwine everything with partners is still being sorted out. But the message we’re delivering is clear: Partners who have truly differentiated skills will be just fine in the new world [of SaaS]. As some software moves from on-premise to the cloud or SaaS, the partner value remains. We just need to figure out the economics.”

Translation: SAS plans to find a way to reward partners that bring SaaS engagements to the software company. But the terms of that potential bounty remain a work in progress.

With that challenge in mind, Schlatzer says he has three top priorities for SAS’s partner program:

  1. Arrive at a formula that aligns the partner community with SAS’s growing SaaS business.

  2. Keep the drumbeat going in terms of product and partner quality.

  3. Continue to try to be more standardized across the globe — ensuring that partners and customers have similar experiences with SAS worldwide.

The VAR Guy will regroup with Schlatzer in a few months to see how SAS is performing against those objectives.

The VAR Guy is updated multiple times daily. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe to his newsletter, RSS feed, Twitter feed , Webcasts and Resource Center.

Read more about:

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like