Adding SAS Viya to your SAS 9 programming toolbox


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 our new Introduction to SAS Viya Programming for SAS 9 Programmers video library, designed to show SAS programmers how they can apply their SAS 9 knowledge in SAS Viya.

For more information, read the technical whitepaper Getting your SAS 9 code to run multi-threaded in SAS Viya 3.3 and additional posts in the series.

SAS Instructor Stacey Syphus

Learning something new can be exciting.  It can be intimidating. And 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 designed to take analytics to the next level and well into the future. Your data is increasing in volume, complexity and speed, and SAS Viya provides the power, integration and agility you need to keep up.

In this series of videos, my fellow instructor, Marc Huber, and I show you how your current SAS 9 programming skills will work with 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 we hope these videos will show you how SAS Viya, added to your existing SAS knowledge, will prove to be a thrilling combination!

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 learn more about our newest release of 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 it, but 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. 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 combine my current SAS knowledge with the new capabilities of 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).

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 Introduction to SAS Viya Programming for SAS 9 Programmers 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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  1. This sounds like a very interesting tool, I am looking forward to hearing more about it, especially in the way of updating the speed of information flow.

  2. I worked with cloud-based solutions before with no problem. Looking forward to use SAS Viya.

    • Larry LaRusso on

      You'll find a good deal of SAS Viya information/resources here:

      A couple of places you might want to give extra attention:
      1) The brochure, which provides a good overview.
      2) The videos under the "Get to Know SAS Viya" header.

      Explore this page and let me know if you have any questions.

  3. Learning something new is often scary, but that's the way of life. After reading this article, I feel more comfortable in transitioning from SAS9 to SAS Viya.

  4. Rodger Zhang on

    This looks fantastic. I am looking forward to learning more around how we can transition from current state to Viya. I have some concerns, although, around the data security as we are dealing with highly sensitive data on a daily basis.

  5. Mathieu Gaouette on

    So glad to see some specific information on how Viya will change our life!
    I will look in details the video library.

  6. Jean-François Ducré-Robitaille on

    Very promising. It will depend of the cost and ease of use, since using Base SAS for a simple analysis is already an easy and quick solution.

  7. I think SAS Viya is an interesting solution to providing enterprise wide SAS but maybe a hard sell to desktop users.

  8. this will be very interesting...good to know that we can still use what we know now...

  9. Peter Timusk on

    This looks like an excellent resource and I will put these in my learning plan for my boss to approve.

  10. Estela Tavares on

    This is quite exciting. It opens a door to a multiverse. I am wondering as a federal gov employee how the cloud platform will be adapted.

  11. Thanks for sharing this. Transitioning from programming in SAS 9 to SAS Viya could be considered as a great move, but there is need to consider the price or sacrifice to be made by users. These sacrifices could include retraining of staff since there is the likelihood of the traditional SAS 9 syntaxes being changed and the introduction of the new ones. The second sacrifice could be the cost of installing SAS Viya. Yes, it is true that people always desire changes but they themselves are not ready to change, not because they don’t want but mostly because of the sacrifices to make.

  12. I've only watched the first two videos, so still don't know whether I will or won't like the new platform. My SAS Studio experience is limited to SAS UE and I don't know if it is representative of the full experience. I miss not having a command line and other features I'm used to with base SAS. And, since I don't work with really big data, I'm not sure if in-memory analytics will provide much of a benefit. However, I'll watch the rest of the videos before making any decisions.

  13. Larry
    Your post is the first I have heard of SAS Viya . I haven't watched the videos you provided yet. As a government employee with health care data my first thought is data security. Won't my data have to move to the cloud-based platform?

    • Stacey Syphus on

      SAS definitely understands how critical security is for our customers, so we provide many options for securing data at rest or in flight. And customers can also choose to implement SAS Viya in the cloud or on premise on local, private hardware.

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