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SASĀ® innovation revolutionizes agile decision-making

by Steve BogdonWednesday, June 23, 2010

High-performance computing innovation reduces complex calculations from hours to minutes

The Premier Business Leadership Series-Berlin  (Jun. 23, 2010)  –  SAS, the leader in business analytics, is introducing advanced high-performance computing technology to help enterprises harness the astronomical growth of raw data for quick and accurate business decisions. In this increasingly turbulent economy, better, faster decisions can tip the balance between growth and extinction.

New SAS High-Performance Computing offerings make full use of private compute grids and new, patent-pending SAS In-Memory Analytics, creating a single system to analyze massive amounts of data in parallel and answer complex business questions in real time. Customers exploring the new technology include United Overseas Bank and iconic retailer Macy’s.

“We are very excited with the early benchmark results of SAS High-Performance Computing,” said Larry Lewark, Chief Information Officer at Macy's. “The unique method by which SAS is distributing complex workloads is allowing us to perform even the most complex analysis in a fraction of the time. We view this as a major breakthrough for quickly analyzing and modeling color/size intensive product data across hundreds of store locations concurrently.”

For financial services companies, the new high-performance computing technology holds similar promise for attacking very large risk management problems in parallel and for real time portfolio stress-testing, creating detailed cash-flow projections and running other complex calculations.

“As the saying goes, time is money and there is a huge competitive advantage when organizations reduce the time in making business decisions – as long as the insight one has is valid,” said TowerGroup Senior Research Director Rodney Nelsestuen. “The ability to process complex risk calculations at a faster speed without sacrificing accuracy is critical to supporting enterprise risk strategies at financial institutions.”

For SAS, the recognized leader in technologies that improve analytical performance and scalability, SAS In-Memory Analytics are the latest innovation in the SAS High-Performance Computing portfolio, which also includes in-database computing and grid computing.

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight called the new technology “a game changer” for enterprises seeking to use analytics for maximum competitive advantage.

“Our customers face growing problems that challenge current computing techniques,” said Goodnight. “SAS High-Performance Computing breaks down highly complex tasks into groups of much smaller problems, distributing those across many processors with the data in-memory. Rapid analysis delivers better answers faster, and a boost to competitiveness and profitability.”

The new SAS High-Performance Computing solutions will be generally available in late 2010, beginning with risk management, followed by retail and other solutions.

SAS in-memory computing solutions operate on HP BladeSystem with Linux, greatly reducing analysis times, lowering provisioning times and decreasing energy costs. To decrease implementation time for clients, HP Factory Express will ship the SAS High-Performance Computing solutions on HP BladeSystem infrastructure along with HP Insight Control software to simplify and automate management.

Advantage for financial services

Today’s market volatility and economic uncertainty require financial services firms to make quick and agile decisions. SAS High-Performance Risk helps rapidly answer complex questions in areas including firm wide capital optimization, liquidity management, portfolio valuation, stress-testing and scenario analysis.

United Overseas Bank (UOB), a early evaluator of SAS High-Performance Risk, asked SAS to assist in the integration of its credit, market and liquidity risk frameworks. The goals were to integrate exposures, value complex portfolios and solve several other international banking issues.

“As we grow regionally, we need to be able to make timely strategic investment decisions,” said Tham Ming Soong, Chief Risk Officer at UOB. “With SAS, the results of complex calculations are made possible on a more timely basis. This means that products can be taken to market, or markets exited much faster. With the speed of market changes today, the ability to understand and take advantage of market changes well before your competitors is a powerful advantage.”

“The SAS solution is a powerful enabler to develop better risk and business analytics, which are the foundations of greater financial and economic stability. SAS High-Performance Risk was what we hoped for when we asked SAS to help,” he said.

In a recent public demonstration, a complex portfolio of 44,583 financial instruments – bonds, foreign exchange contracts and more – was valued over 100,000 market states and two time horizons. Computing portfolio Value at Risk (VaR) typically takes 18 hours or more on a single server.

SAS High-Performance Risk completed the 8.8 billion VaR computations in less than three minutes using in-memory analytics. From there, portfolio stress testing on the effects of interest and foreign exchange rate changes could be done in real-time, helping bank analysts and executives better predict and manage risk exposure and fine-tune their responses to changing market conditions.

Big benefits for retailers

SAS In-Memory Analytics for the retail industry include markdown optimization and assortment planning.

In tests, SAS High-Performance Markdown Optimization generated optimal markdown prices on 200 million product-location combinations over 26 weeks, an impossible task with first-generation systems. Previously, retailers marked down seasonal or slow-moving products identically for all stores without considering store-level demand and inventory. SAS innovations let a retailer protect margins and turn seasonal merchandise faster.

The SAS In-Memory Analytics solution for retail assortment planning will let retailers plan and replan without compromising results or user experience. The solution will make store-specific merchandise plans a reality for a top-50 US retail company now evaluating it.

The latest developments in the SAS High-Performance Computing strategy were unveiled at The Premier Business Leadership Series – Berlin, an international conference held three times a year. Presented by SAS, The Series brings together hundreds of public and private sector attendees to share ideas and knowledge on critical business management issues. The next conference will be Aug. 10-11 in Hong Kong.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps customers at more than 45,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .
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