SAS chief dismisses Teradata merger speculation

Hardware barriers effectively block any union with Teradata, Dr Jim Goodnight has said, adding that he's losing no sleep over rival business-intelligence 'mega-vendors'
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

SAS chief executive Dr Jim Goodnight has poured cold water on speculation that the business-intelligence company might merge with its former rival, data-warehousing-software company Teradata.

The two companies announced a strategic alliance a year ago that aimed for better integration, and joint marketing and sales efforts for the pair's products.

With Teradata's data-warehousing platform and the SAS applications that sit around it, industry watchers have thought a merger between the two could be a marriage made in heaven.

However, that is not a view Goodnight shares.

"We don't want them on the hardware and they couldn't afford me," Goodnight quipped to ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com at the company's Premier Business Leadership Series event in Las Vegas.

According to Goodnight, it's hardware barriers that effectively block a union with Teradata.

"You take vendors like HP, Sun, Dell, IBM — there's just lots of hardware that we need to run on and some of our alliances are very strong. Our alliance with HP — there's probably 20 go-to-market situations with them. We're working very closely with HP to deliver solutions to mutual customers," he said.

"If we buy Teradata, those kind of alliances would be frowned upon. I would prefer to stay vendor-neutral or at least have the ability to be vendor-neutral," Goodnight said.

Since the alliance between Teradata and SAS, the business-intelligence (BI) space has seen some big-name consolidation, including IBM's $5bn (£3bn) acquisition of Cognos and SAP's purchase of Business Objects for $7bn. The moves leave SAS competing with a number of large vendors.

The consolidation trend has brought new pressure to bear on SAS, according to Andreas Bitterer, Gartner's lead analyst on BI.

"The market has undergone a lot of changes in terms of mergers and acquisitions. These four large mega-vendors [Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Oracle] certainly have now a lot of market share overall… and it has certainly pushed everyone more into niches. That doesn't mean that it's a small market in that niche but SAS certainly feels some of the pressure from the large mega-vendors," he told silicon.com.

Bitterer added: "SAS has always had the luxury of having technology really nobody else has... in terms of breadth, from simpler reporting to warehousing to dashboards and all the vertical application from banking and retail and life sciences and pharmaceutical. No other player in the BI space really has that breadth."

Despite now having to compete with these 'mega-vendors', Goodnight claimed he's not losing sleep over his new rivals.

"We have always competed against IBM; competed against Cognos; we've competed against SAP for many years. We have over 400 companies we come up against every day because of the broadness of our products," Goodnight said.

"There is little that could happen out there that could keep me awake at night," he added.

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