Tuesday, 8 October 2013

NOTE: More on 9.4

I had the pleasure of attending the SAS professionals Roadshow in Marlow last week. It was a good event: well organised, and informative. I'm looking forward to attending the similar event in London on December 11th so that I can join alternative information streams.

The event started with a detailed summary of SAS V9.4's new features. I'll repeat what I consider to be the highlights here.

  • New ODS destinations include HTML 5 (a strategic direction for many SAS customers) and PowerPoint (so that you can create a sequence of slides with charts and tables)
  • PROC ODSLIST, ODSTEXT and ODSTABLE can be used to make the creation of your ODS output simpler and neater
  • PROC JSON is useful for those who want to read data from a SAS data set and write it to an external file in JSON representation. Java Script Object Notation (JSON) is a text-based, open standard data format that is designed for human-readable data interchange
  • SAS/ACCESS includes support for SAP's HANA in-memory, MPP database
  • The HPxxxx procedures are part of SAS/BASE, SAS/STAT, etc. They use all available threads (albeit, the number of threads can be limited if required). In the vast majority of cases, you can simply edit your code and place "HP" on the front of the name of your compute-intensive PROCs to deliver multi-threaded processing
  • Visual Analytics reports can be delivered via the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office
  • In the area of security, metadata bound libraries are a huge boon, but 9.4 also brings more encryption for data in flight and at rest
  • DS2 and FedSQL are two new languages introduced by 9.4. DS2 allows SAS syntax (including first. and last.) to be used and deployed within your multi-threaded database; FedSQL can break open a query and send it to multiple databases. The idea of executing FedSQL within DS2 makes my mind boggle - but it is possible
  • Metadata clustering brings increased resilience
  • 9.4 brings a new proprietary SAS mid tier, i.e. a mid-tier supplied and supported by SAS whihc replaces the rag-tag collection of 3rd-party components previously required for web servers, load balancing, app servers, content servers, etc. The new mid-tier is produced by VMware and branded by SAS. This is a recognised industry standard, but lighter in weight than the previous collection of components - reflecting SAS's actual use of the mid-tier. 
  • Since the introduction of V9, the SAS architecture has been a smorgasbord of 3rd party mid-tier products. SAS have steadily brought it all back in house. It's good to see this reach a conclusion
  • SAS Environment Manager (SEM) takes a bow and provides in-browser control of key SAS components. Ultimately, by the time V9.5 arrives, Environment Manager will have replaced SAS Management Console (SMC), but for the moment SEM and SMC will co-exist in our V9.4 environments. SEM is a single, pluggable architecture that is scriptable 
  • On the thorny subject of SAS metadata migration, SAS are offering a direct migration path from 9.2 and 9.3 to 9.3, but if you're still on 9.1 then you'll need to migrate to 9.2 or 9.3 before migrating to 9.4
So, there's something for everyone in V9.4, and there was something for everyone at the SAS Professionals Roadshow. Will I see at the London Roadshow in December?