Transitioning from programming in SAS 9 to SAS Viya


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles to help current SAS programmers add SAS Viya to their analytics skillset. In this post, SAS instructors Stacey Syphus and Marc Huber introduce you to the new Transitioning from Programming in SAS 9 to SAS Viya video library, designed to show SAS programmers how they can apply their SAS 9 knowledge in SAS Viya. Read additional posts in the series.

SAS Instructor Stacey Syphus

Change…  It can be exciting.  It can be intimidating. It can be both! In my years as a SAS instructor, I have encountered many students who are expert SAS programmers, attending class with the objective of learning some new aspect of SAS that extends their current area of expertise. In these situations, they’ll either ask the following two questions aloud or at least be thinking them:

  • Can I still use all of the SAS programming expertise that I have worked so hard to gain?
  • What will be different compared to my previous experience and what new things will I have to learn?

A big change is coming in the world of SAS. SAS Viya is our new open, cloud-based platform designed to take analytics to the next level. Your data is increasing in volume and complexity, and SAS Viya provides the power, speed and agility you need to keep up.

In this series of videos, my fellow instructor, Marc Huber, and I guide you through the transition from SAS 9 to SAS Viya. In the first five videos, I introduce SAS Viya and discuss familiar data management and manipulation concepts, such as accessing data, using the DATA step and creating and applying user-defined formats. In the remaining videos, Marc focuses on statistical procedures, comparing familiar procedures in SAS 9 with their counterparts in SAS Viya.

We know you have worked hard to become an expert SAS programmer, and he hope these videos will show you that your SAS knowledge, combined with the new powerful SAS Viya platform, will be a thrilling change!

SAS Instructor Marc Huber

Recently, my wife came to have lunch with me at SAS. As we ate, she unveiled her plans for an upcoming vacation we plan to take. This summer, for our ten-year anniversary, we are headed to the Philippines. She has been busy working with a travel agent for weeks and finally came up with a great idea to go to Sagada in the Mountain province in the Philippines. We needed to book a hotel as soon as possible, so I needed to approve of the plan in a hurry. The lodging?  A government-managed hotel on, I kid you not, Mount Data. How can any self-respecting SAS employee turn down the opportunity to scale Mount Data?

All of which brings me to the real reason for writing this post. Several weeks ago I was asked to write and record some videos to help "traditional" users of SAS migrate to our new and expansive platform, SAS Viya.  There were rumors that this request came from "the top," although I don't exactly know how high that top was. I’m still not sure why they asked me, but I’m guessing it’s because I’m one of those "traditional" users.  For months, even before there was a name for it, I had heard about this new platform, I didn’t know much about it. I did know it was going to be faster, stronger, and more agile than the SAS I already knew, but how could that be possible?

Frankly, I couldn't grasp how it was going to be different. Worse yet, I didn't know if I'd be able to manage the change. Would I know how to use the new software? I was worried that I'd be like some grandpa in a cartoon who kept yearning for the good old days when I used dinosaur teeth to calculate likelihoods.

Of course, I couldn't turn down this request. Still, accepting the challenge meant facing my fears and learning how to use SAS Viya. I quickly realized that maybe I was, in fact the perfect person to write about how to move from SAS 9 to SAS Viya. Heck, I was the target audience. Sure, there were some conceptual keys that I needed to learn, like what it meant to have in-memory processing of calculations and what cloud-based analytics was. I also learned that multi-threaded operations weren't just what my wife does with that serger I bought for her last birthday. And I learned about CAS (Cloud Analytic Services) and CAS "actions" (essentially, procedures, but without necessarily having to be called through PROCs).

But, in the end, I realized SAS is still SAS. If I want to write SAS programs to perform logistic regression, it's no big deal to use PROC LOGSELECT in SAS Viya instead of PROC LOGISTIC in SAS 9. I’m sure that by watching these videos you’ll agree it’s not as intimidating as it might seem.

And, now that I know how to use SAS Viya, I told my wife that I’m ready to climb Mount Data. She's booking us a room at the hotel right now​.

View the entire Transitioning from Programming in SAS 9 to SAS Viya video library.



About Author

Larry LaRusso

Principal Communications Specialist at SAS

Larry LaRusso is the editor of the SAS Tech Report and SAS Learning Report newsletters and the SAS Users, Learning Post and Analytics U blogs. He has worked at SAS since 2000 in marketing, communications, customer experience and management roles for both the Education Division and External Communications. You can follow him on Twitter @lalaru102.

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