In trying to offer better support to SAS users, many customers’ IT departments are looking to consolidate all their SAS desktop users onto a centralized Windows, UNIX or Linux server.
This option is a very practical strategy, but implementing it satisfactorily requires a lot of assessment on how the SAS users are using SAS on their desktop--especially if you want them to be happy when they are asked to migrate to the new centralized server! Please make sure that you add time in your project planning to do a detailed inventory and analysis of how the SAS desktop users are currently using SAS. This step is critical to ensuring there are enough computer resources on the new centralized server to assure SAS users will be productive and happy with this new infrastructure.
Determine number of cores. The most important thing that you need to do is to determine how frequently and how long it takes for each desktop user to run their SAS applications. If each one of these users is submitting SAS jobs on their desktop that run for hours and consume at least one full core on their machine, then you will need to make sure the new centralized server can support all those individual SAS users concurrently.
If you find out that you will have more than 20 concurrent SAS sessions, each taking over an hour from start to finish, you should consider implementing a SAS Grid environment so that you can spread the SAS users over multiple instances of an operating system for optimal performance. Please note that setting up a SAS Grid environment will add complexity to your new infrastructure as a clustered file system will be required to share data between the multiple operating system instances.
Evaluate IO throughput. In addition to making sure you have enough cores to support all the users in this new centralized environment, you need to make sure that you have enough IO throughput on the new centralized server to support the concurrent SAS sessions. Again, understanding the IO throughput requirements of each SAS desktop user will make this task easier. For example, you’ll want to understand whether desktop SAS users are submitting jobs that are mostly reading data sets or whether their jobs involve writing or updating large volumes of data.
SAS staff will be presenting a presentation on this topic at SAS Global Forum 2015 in Dallas, TX. For those of you who have done this consolidation in the past, please share with us your “lessons learned” so that we can incorporate it into this new SAS presentation.
As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments on the above.