Maybe you’re a SAS®9 programmer in the insurance industry who stores her analytics projects in a local desktop folder, or in a Git library. Or maybe you’re a data scientist who specializes in aviation forecasting and loves the no-code environment of SAS® Viya®. Or maybe you’re a Python devotee at a multinational bank who needs to deploy machine-learning models in SAS for regulatory reasons.

These are just a few of the millions of possible reasons why you might use SAS, and I’m here to tell you, we support every one of you. We know that you need technical stability and flexibility in the face of increasingly complex decisions. And it should also go without saying that SAS intends to continue providing that stability, speed and flexibility as we’ve done for the past 45 years.

Indeed, SAS is in the midst of planning for SAS Explore, a virtual technology conference for SAS users. Our latest SAS Viya capabilities designed for data practitioners, analysts, scientists and engineers will be on full display along with key product announcements. As we gear up for SAS Explore, I wanted to take a minute to discuss product strategy as it relates to you, including:

  • How you code and build your models.
  • What platform you use for analytics.
  • Where you deploy models to streamline and optimize your analytics practices.

Read on for a deeper look at our product strategy and how it affects you.

Your code, your choice

Over the years, SAS has given our customers a number of options for how they choose to code in order to do their best work. Whether your preference is using SAS code or an open-source language, you have options without needing to rewrite your applications.

    1. SAS®9 users – we have you covered. The SAS programming language, along with the SAS®9 platform, will continue to be supported for many years to come.
    2. Minimal need to recode from SAS®9 to SAS Viya. You rarely need to recode from SAS to another language in order to use the Viya platform. You can run your Viya code as well as your existing SAS code within the Viya environment. If you’re considering using Viya but don’t know whether your current architecture will be supported, use this assessment tool to examine the characteristics of your current SAS®9 system. Within the "code check” application, you can scan your SAS code for any incompatibilities with Viya. We consistently find that a significant portion of SAS jobs written in SAS®9 are compatible with SAS Viya.
    3. Code in any language. Viya supports many languages. Whether you need to develop an API-first strategy, fuel a data preparation routine with machine learning or want to improve interoperability, Viya provides full open-source integration and utility. For those who have used SAS coding, SAS Viya supports using Python or R directly with SAS or integrating SAS into applications using REST APIs. For developers, SAS repositories on GitHub provide code examples, libraries and tools.

Your platform, your choice

Today, many of our existing customers remain on the SAS®9 platform, while others are using the SAS Viya platform. The reasons for the mixed use of each platform varies widely by industry, use case and distinct business need.

Many customers use SAS®9 because it’s a high-quality, stable platform with expansive documentation and top notch, global technical support. The latest release of SAS®9 will be fully supported for many years to come. SAS®9 core capabilities continue to be fantastic solutions for simple data manipulations, data exploration and powerful analytics to support decisions and discover insights.

SAS Viya gives customers a cloud-native environment with a comprehensive set of built-in modules and functions for data mining, predictive modeling and advanced AI techniques, and a simple visual user interface critical for those who do not program. Whether you’re building or accessing simple reports or developing advanced analytics solutions to critical business questions, you can scale your analytics and innovate more quickly with SAS Viya. Plus, Viya updates roll out seamlessly every month instead of requiring major platform changes a few times a year.

Additionally, Viya supports various coding languages and open source in a structured, unified framework for orchestrating all your analytics projects. Many organizations rely on Viya as a robust data science and machine-learning platform that every developer can personalize to their preferred language with their favorite software, tools and libraries.

Think of SAS Viya as a superset of SAS®9: More advanced capabilities, more flexibility, more expansive AI techniques, more opportunity to code in the language you prefer. The choice of when to leverage the Viya incremental value is an opportunity for each customer to make when the time is right.

Your environment, your choice

Traditional on-premises SAS deployments will remain a key strategy for many SAS customers. For others, deploying models developed in SAS or open source to different environments, such as cloud, containers, streaming or on-site edge devices, is critically important – and this is exactly what Viya provides.

When it comes to cloud portability, it’s important to not just move around your models, but also to move your entire platform and SAS estate as you deem necessary. With Viya, you can do this without worry. When delivered on Red Hat OpenShift, for example, Viya supports analytics on-premises, within public and private cloud environments, and at the edge. Regardless of where you are in your cloud journey, you can absolutely build and scale analytics on a consistent and stable infrastructure.

When it comes to pricing and licensing, SAS Viya has moved away from pricing by CPU cores to a flat, user-based annual fee irrespective of whether it is run on-premises or on cloud infrastructure. The number of containers and the size of the containerized architecture is not a factor in Viya licensing and pricing, and there are no restrictions on the number of production or nonproduction installations.

Worried about what it might cost to deploy analytics on a public cloud, like Microsoft Azure? SAS and Microsoft recently commissioned a Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) study to share the tangible ROI our customers have experienced since implementing Viya on Azure. The composite organization saw a 204% ROI over three years, with the initial payback period being just over one year.

 Your compliance, well … not your choice

Regulations governing the responsible use of AI and analytics are in motion around the world, and the consequences for noncompliance can be steep. For example, the EU AI Act contemplates fines of up to 6% of annual revenues for multinational tech companies. Bottom line, it’s becoming more and more likely that you’ll be asked to “show your work” to regulators, customers and the public.

We’re getting a lot more questions about responsible AI from our customers, and words like “transparency” and “explainability” are frequently seen in requests for proposals/information. Fortunately, SAS has a great response, grounded in our commitment to responsible innovation.

Viya has governance and accountability capabilities that can help you maintain oversight of models and AI outcomes. Viya has automated privacy, bias detection and fairness assessments that identify and protect sensitive data and help ensure diverse populations are represented. For explainability, every model explains how a variable  affected model prediction and why a prediction was made. With decision auditability, a user can trace the lineage of data ingestion and preparation, modeling, reports and decisions. Model monitoring ensures that predictions remain valid, reducing the risk of bias and inequities arising over time.

As a creator of powerful AI technologies SAS understands the promise and risks of AI. Guided by the SAS Data Ethics Practice, we are integrating the capabilities our customers need to navigate the turbulent compliance waters.

Explore with us

Choosing the right analytics vendor is no easy task. You have a plethora of choices, coupled with bold and often inaccurate claims from some analytics vendors. Experiencing software firsthand, stepping through demonstrations and hearing from other customers helps to cut through much of that noise.

To that point, again consider yourself invited to SAS Explore where I will be joined by my co-hosts SAS Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Bryan Harris and SAS Head of Research and Development Jared Peterson. You can see SAS technology firsthand and dive into our analytics, data management, AI/ML and intelligent decisioning capabilities in much more detail. We look forward to seeing you there, and we look forward to continuing to earn your business.

Onward.

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About Author

Shadi Shahin

Vice President of Product Strategy

As vice president of product strategy, Shadi Shahin is responsible for leading Product Management, Price and Offering Management, as well as the Enterprise Excellence Center teams. His background as an IT professional began at IBM more than 25 years ago eventually leading Wolters Kluwer, and most recently, RedHat. Along the way, Shahin’s teams pushed the boundaries within data, analytics, and next-generation technologies. This included creative integrations of SAS into an open architecture ecosystems. His guiding principle is to infuse both a customer and practitioner perspective into a pragmatic and collaborative SAS roadmap.

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