SAS 9.4 Grid line mode--the past meets the future


When I worked for SAS Italy, I was considered an old SAS employee because I started with SAS 8, and I saw all SAS 9 innovations from the beginning. I can even remember using SAS 6.12 a couple of times! Then I moved to the US and I felt like a newbie, surrounded by people who have used - or developed - all SAS releases that were around even before I left my elementary school.

This sensation came around again recently when I read about a new feature that has been introduced in SAS 9.4 M1 Grid Manager: the support for interactive line mode. I've been told that in the past, when there where no interactive editors, line mode was the only interactive way to run SAS. This new life means there are still customers around who love it!

Looking from a modernization perspective, it also means that we can now bring to the grid world every kind of user, from the SAS Enterprise Guide lover who prefers not to write a single line of code, to the hard-coder who likes the efficiency that only basic tools can provide.

As I usually like to do whenever I'm facing something new, I had a look at the official documentation on Submitting SAS Programs to a Grid Interactively. Basically, it's not just line mode. You can now use the SAS Grid Manager Client Utility -SASGSUB - to start an interactive session on the grid or watch the output from a batch submission while it is running. This is a new feature that came from customer requests and was extended to support not only SAS, but also arbitrary OS commands.

If you have security concerns over running arbitrary commands, be reminded hat traditional grid security still applies, and there are at least three levels of security:

  • SAS metadata authorization - If I'm not allowed to use the grid, I can't start SASGSUB.
  • OS authorization - I need to have OS-level permission to execute any command.
  • LSF policies - Everything submitted to the grid can be controlled by an admin, who can set limits for example on the max amount of resources a specific user can consume.

The communication protocol is secure, too, it will try AES encryption, but if not found, it will use SASPROPRIETARY. It can be forced to any SAS/SECURE protocol via options. And if you have really strict policies, the SAS admin can just selectively disable any undesired feature just following the instructions for Disabling SASGSUB Actions.

Note that there are some OS limitations:

  • The client can be either Windows or UNIX, but interactive server sessions are limited UNIX grids.
  • If you are connected to a Windows grid, you can only run batch sessions and interactively watch their output with the GRIDWATCHOUTPUT option.

I'll close with a screenshot of my first line-mode SAS on grid.  I highlighted in red the security information and in gray the grid connection information.  These features are brand new, so we are waiting for your feedback about their use

My first SAS Grid Manager session in line mode
My first SAS Grid Manager session in line mode

About Author

Edoardo Riva

Principal Technical Architect

Edoardo Riva is a Principal Technical Architect in the Global Enablement and Learning (GEL) Team within SAS R&D's Global Technical Enablement Division.

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