SAS deployment: what's the right size?

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This is a continuing topic of the SAS Administration and Performance blog series. In the last edition, I discussed why you need to do a technical assessment prior to planning your SAS deployment.  Yes, this step takes time, but you’ll find it far easier to implement the suggested tuning guidelines when setting up your computer system infrastructure, as opposed to implementing them after the system is in place and running—likely with undesired performance.

The next question often becomes what methods and steps are associated with doing a technical assessment.  One recommended method is to work with your SAS Account Team to have a computer system infrastructure sizing done by the SAS Enterprise Excellence Center (EEC). 

The EEC bases its sizing recommendations on information that you provide them via answers to their sizing questionnaire. The more detailed the answers to the questions, the more accurate the output from EEC sizing will be. In this questionnaire, you list information such as:

  • the types of SAS applications that will be used
  • the number of concurrent SAS users/sessions
  • the size of the data files you will use as input to the SAS applications 

Additional questions in the EEC questionnaire have to do with your plans for your complete computer system infrastructure.  For example, are you planning on having a development and test environment along with your production environment?  Having this additional environment enables you to test new hardware, operating system and SAS patches or changes in a non-production environment. There are many unexpected “emergencies” that occur because this test environment is not in place, and “fixes” or “alterations” have been applied to the SAS production system that puts it into a poorly performing or non-usable state. No one wants this to happen, so putting a Test environment in place and following standard administration practices to test before pushing to production should be strongly enforced.

Other questions that are discussed via the EEC questionnaire is whether or not high availability or failover or both are needed in your computer system infrastructure, along with the desire for SAS Grid Computing technology.  These are all very key decisions that need to be made up front to help ensure you properly setup your computer system infrastructure.

The output from the EEC sizing is a document that points you to the operating system tuning guidelines that we have posted on the support.sas.com site as part of a list of papers useful for troubleshooting system performance problems.  These papers are guidelines based on testing done at SAS with our hardware partners and lessons-learned frp, helping SAS customers who have run into issues with default settings of their computer system infrastructure.  These papers are updated on a frequent basis as we learn more.

One area that is not covered by the EEC sizing is how to setup the storage array with your computer system infrastructure, but there are papers on how to do this on the above-mentioned web site.   In addition to the papers, we have already done several blogs on how to properly configure storage for SAS applications.

We hope the above was helpful and encourage dialogue if you have any questions.

--Margaret

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About Author

Margaret Crevar

Manager, SAS R&D Performance Lab

Margaret Crevar has worked at SAS since May 1982. She has held a variety of positions since then, working in sales, marketing and now research and development. In her current role, Crevar manages the SAS Performance Lab in R&D. This lab has two roles: testing future SAS releases while they're still in development to make sure they're performing as expected; and helping SAS customers who are experiencing performance issues overcome their challenges.

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