IBM and the SAS Institute have signed a joint deal to sell and market data mining software, but denied that will lead to conflict between their rival offerings.
At the SAS User Group meeting in Madrid today, Nick Coutts, IBM's vice president of global distribution channel strategy, admitted the companies would compete but said there were more areas of agreement than disagreement.
He said: "We have some strong storage solutions for SAS customers. We can help SAS to cover more of the market. We can provide finance for the end users to build their systems." He said Intelligent Data Mining was the only IBM software product that came into conflict with the new partner. But the companies have different marketing and sales strategies, with IBM using channel partners and SAS going direct, adding to potential conflict in the future.
A senior source at SAS suggested that the reason the deal was signed was because Big Blue needed badly needed its partner's multi-platform data warehousing technology.
Dr Wolfgang Martin, programme director for analysts Meta Group, believes the alliance will scare many rivals. He said: "This will give a hard time to the 50 other companies who are doing data mining. On the tools side there will be nice competition between IBM and SAS. IBM's mission statement is to be the number one company in data mining by the year 2000 and that means a fight."
Also at the conference, SAS chief executive Jim Goodnight said the company is having to develop parallel strategies for NCs and PCs. One development, codenamed Pandora, is thin client software while the other, called Jazz, is aimed at Microsoft client/server solutions.
He said: "We don't know which desktop will be the winner. ActiveX systems also have a good chance of dominating the desktop."
The company also introduced Web-based software that can access SAP data. Over 40 per cent of SAS sales are on PCs.
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