Friday, 13 December 2013

just been to sas professionals road show in the new sas office in London

A couple of days ago I attended a sas professionals ( event focusing on sas V9.4 which is due to be launched in Europe in January 2014 (with statistics 12.3, 13.1 to follow towards the end of the year) . As usual there is so much new terminology to learn and new paradigms to get one's head around. Naturally I concentrated on what really interests me - Analytics. But there are some non-analytics things that might interest analysts such as myself:
  1. Sas has significantly hardened the security
   2.  There are a few new ODS destinations that are aimed at the mobile device world. But the one that is to me the game changer is the ODS to MS PowerPoints completing the  suit of preferred delivery platforms. Let me spell this out a good sas programmer can create automatically sleek pdfs, excels, PowerPoints. Now it all can also be ziped automatically with an ods option.
  1. Sas has introduced two new scripting languages: FedSQL and DS2. The latter, DS2, is something every sas programmer who respect his-self should know. It harks back to the AF object oriented SCL (oh the good old days) so sas dinosaurs like my self will feel at home. The power, according to the presenters, is the ability to truly harness parallel programming and code objects that a truly portable to other environments. We are just facing a case where we could have benefited for the latter feature - we created an amazing solution and now the client wants the beautiful data steps dumbed down to SQL. In the new world we can just hand over the DS2 and it will work as is in say Oracle.
  1. The IT oriented people will be thrilled with the new embedded web-server (save some licencing money there) and the shinny new sas environment manager

On the analytics side the most interesting development I noted was the High Performance procedures. They are designed for MPP environments doing true parallel-in-memory processing. They come in bundles focusing on: statistics, econometrics, optimisation, data mining, text mining, forecasting. It seems that the re-written engines also perform significantly better on SNP environments (you know the pcs and servers we are using). In essence the technology uses the hardware better than ever as long as you have more than one core and a enough memory assigned to you. A small, but useful, HPxxx procs will be included in sas base if one licences other statistically oriented packages (stat, or, ets, miner …) . It would be interesting to stress test them on a SNP environment and figure out the optimal settings.

It seems to me that most of the new features that were discussed for the EM 12.3 are features that were there in 2.0 till 4.0 but disapeared in the move to the thin client in 5.0 such as Enhanced control over Decision Trees. A new and interesting additions is the Survival data mining introducing time varying covariates.

I will defiantly have to look deeper into
  • Sas Contextual Analysis
  • Recommendation engine

One interesting observation is the not many chose to go to the analytics session but to the BI and Enterprise Guide ones. Am I of a dying kind? Or is it that all the sas statistical programmers are so busy they do not have time to come to events such as this?