SAS starts building for the cloud

The company is investing in two 10,000-square-foot server farms in an effort to establish a cloud base

SAS, the world's largest vendor of business-intelligence software, is planning to spend $70m (£50m) on a cloud-computing facility to expand its on-demand applications.

Operations will be based at its Cary, North Carolina headquarters, the company said on Thursday.

SAS is privately held and competes with companies such as IBM, SAP and Oracle.

In a statement, SAS's founder and chief executive Jim Goodnight detailed the company's plans for a 38,000-square-foot cloud-computing facility. The cloud centre will have two 10,000-square-foot server farms, with the first one to be completed in 2010 and a second to be built when the first reaches 80 percent capacity, the company said.

The cloud facility will be built under the US Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) standards for water and energy conservation, according to the statement.

 In a recent report, analysts Forrester said business intelligence will be one of the harder markets to move to an on-demand software model.The report put business intelligence in the "minimal success" category for the on-demand/cloud model.

"SaaS BI [software-as-a-service business-intelligence] is a relatively new category within SaaS, and numerous vendors have appeared on the market with solutions," the report said."There are a few offerings from established vendors like Business Objects (now part of SAP), but many of these vendors are smaller, potentially riskier."

However, the report noted that "the potential of SaaS BI is strong, particularly its potential to improve the end-user experience and access to analytics as well as its ability to enable collaborative or benchmarking-type reporting scenarios."

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