SAS® improves business productivity by bringing together diverse analytics into a single open platform

Hear a data scientist in the healthcare industry speak about his longtime use of SAS
and his early experiences with SAS Viya.

Businesses and IT departments are now contending with a wide variety of analytics languages, tools and skills. They are clamoring for a cohesive analytics infrastructure that is easy to manage and govern, yet allows them to use the language or tool of their choice. Analytics applications developed for the SAS 9 platform offer this cohesion. With SAS® Viya™, analytically driven organizations can extend these offerings through a robust, cloud-ready platform, open at a more granular and consistent level.

Data scientists “can break out of analytic silos and collaborate as a team regardless of their choice of programming language, sharing work with each other and boosting team productivity. The focus of analytics at Navistar is to uncover business insights that reveal the ‘why,’ and less about ‘how’ we developed them. That’s what motivates the Navistar data science team and makes a real difference to the business,” said Gyasi Dapaa, Director of Data Science at Navistar International, a SAS customer.

Oliver Schabenberger, SAS Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, said, “Open means the ability to access, and customers want the freedom to build on a platform they can access in the most productive way. We’ve always been an open platform – SAS customers can already integrate analytic efforts easily within their Hadoop cluster. Now with SAS Viya, whether that is through SAS, Python, Java or REST APIs, the SAS platform encourages customers to use the programmatic approach that best suits their needs. SAS embraces open source software and adds interoperability, utility and analytic innovation for the enterprise.”

According to Schabenberger, when users of Python or other open source languages move from a single-threaded environment to the multithreaded, distributed architecture of SAS Viya, they may see processing times shrink from hours to minutes. This is in addition to the operational benefits of using common data models, centralized administration, governance and world-leading analytics.

“SAS is an open platform that provides the ability to govern and manage the analytic life cycle,” said Schabenberger.

SAS offers existing SAS 9 customers portable code for a range of operating systems, deployment environments and data types. Recent enhancements to the SAS 9 platform connect it to the Jupyter Notebook project, deepen integration with Hadoop, and extend deployment support for container environments.

Platform for the future

SAS Viya further advances the openness of the SAS platform. Announced in March and shipping this month, the first new products available on SAS Viya take advantage of the openness of the platform including:

  • Coding options -- SAS Viya provides programming access from SAS, Python, Java, Lua and through REST APIs.
  • Infrastructure options -- SAS Viya allows programs to be deployed and run within public, private or hybrid clouds as well as on-premise.
  • Optimized processing -- The underlying multithreaded, in-memory, massively parallel processing platform of SAS Viya enables all analytics operations to be processed fast, efficiently taking advantage of existing hardware.

By adding open source programming interfaces to the SAS Viya analytics platform, organizations will be able to publish, run, manage and govern code from any analytic code base using any analytic skill set. And they can easily use existing SAS assets with the SAS Viya environment, which provides backward compatibility between platforms.

SAS recently surveyed more than 3,000 users and non-users of SAS. Over 90 percent cited the benefits they see from commercial software like SAS, finding value from product stability, lower business risk and tailored support.

A warm reception

Since the unveiling of SAS Viya in March, customers and industry analysts clearly like what they’ve seen:

“SAS is doing some interesting stuff. Moreover, it's not just developing new products and making itself more open, it is also thinking about its audience in a way that I don't hear from other vendors.”

– Philip Howard, Bloor blog: “SAS Goes Open,” June 27, 2016

“SAS Viya comes prepared for serious analytics. This includes copious data pre-processing tools, data mining algorithms and the ability to use existing SAS statistical procedures. Data analysts won’t be constrained by having to write profuse code, instead spending more time being creative. And SAS Viya is open to other languages, integrating with software such as Python, and others to come.”

“If you are new to SAS, then you’ll gleefully embrace SAS Viya. You can run sophisticated procedures without having to know much SAS code. If you’re a SAS veteran, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to test code and then store what works into a library of snippets.”

Andrew Kramer, President and co-founder, Prescient Healthcare Consulting

“SAS’ investment in SAS Viya does not mean burning existing SAS deployments. This is important. SAS Viya can communicate with existing SAS platforms and vice versa, a sign that SAS has given considerable thought to its existing customers in a way that, perhaps, other vendors have not during the wave of enthusiasm for new product launches.”

– Tom Pringle, Head of Applications Research, Ovum,SAS is loading Viya for the future, and yes, it looks future-ready,” June 14, 2016

As Pringle notes, existing SAS analytic deployments, such as 9.x versions, are interoperable with SAS Viya installations. SAS will continue development and support of both platforms to protect existing investments and enable organizations to move into the new era of analytics for which SAS Viya was designed.

Today's announcement was made at the Analytics Experience conference in Las Vegas, a business technology conference presented by SAS that brings together more than 10,000 attendees on-site and online to share ideas on critical business issues.

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