SAS Institute Inc – it likes to be called sass, not SAS as in the UK’s Special Air Service – held its tenth annual European User Group meeting, SEUGI ’92, in Vienna a couple of weeks ago. The event was primarily a homage to the long-awaited SAS Executive Information System, which hogged centre stage during […]
SAS Institute Inc – it likes to be called sass, not SAS as in the UK’s Special Air Service – held its tenth annual European User Group meeting, SEUGI ’92, in Vienna a couple of weeks ago. The event was primarily a homage to the long-awaited SAS Executive Information System, which hogged centre stage during the opening proceedings of the conference. On the evidence of its showing, SAS/EIS is certainly the kind of tool that will empower decision makers with the ability to study their companies and markets in new ways, with only minimum recall to the services of in-house software engineers – even a chief executive can use this because it only takes one finger, claims Jim Goodnight, SAS chief executive. SAS/EIS, however, is not a revolutionary departure, more a (welcome) common sense approach to the problem of coalescing disparate information sources into a practical, easy-to-use analysis and reporting environment.
Turning numbers into graphs and simple pictures, it borrows conventions from car dashboard displays and suggests the use of simple colour-performance indicators such as red, amber and green. SAS/EIS uses object-oriented techniques and offers a fourth-generation language, enabling non-tecchies to get meaningful use from the system. It’s currently at beta test sites and staggered launches will begin in the fourth quarter with a version for IBM Corp’s MVS operating system. Also previewed in Vienna was version 6.08 of the SAS System, the company’s collection of statistical, analysis and reporting packages – what it calls its information delivery system – which will be available from the fourth quarter, or the beginning of 1993 in Unix versions. Version 6.08 will include support for OS/2 2.0, Microsoft Corp Windows, IBM’s VSE/ESA and the CICS transaction processing environment, plus gateway access to AS/400 systems in client-server set-ups. SAS doesn’t run native on the AS/400 because of technical reasons, but also because users tell us its not the machine they want to run applications on, it says. In most cases AS/400s are full of data, and users want a delivery system that can access this data via OS/2 or Windows. We prefer OS/2, because it’s a better operating system, and it is becoming the preferred choice for large commercial users, but Windows is most popular for the stand-alone. SAS supports access to a range of mainframe, personal computer and Unix database managers and spreadsheets and will run from day one on Digital Equipment Corp’s Alpha RISC boxes under Open VMS and OSF/1 when they are launched. Determined not to undermine his DEC marketing team’s present offerings, Goodnight emphasises that the Cary, North Carolina company has sold some 3,500 versions of SAS System in the last three months.
One of our industry folk heroines is the girl that asked at a Lotus Development Corp press conference What’s 1-2-3 for? Fewer people these days ask What’s SAS System for? but the company has other fish to fry these days too: William Fellows reports.
SAS isn’t religious, he says and will do an implementation for to any volume environment whenever it is able to. So why a version for the NeXT Computer Inc NextStep environment? Goodnight says Steve Jobs had promised him that the NeXT boxes would sell in serious numbers, but now admits that that particular offering isn’t making us any money. Why no Apple Computer Inc Macintosh SAS System? The firm has a non-mainstream product called Jump available for the Mac, but there are no plans for a vanilla version of SAS software on that box. Goodnight discounts rumours that his company couldn’t actually get a version of SAS to work on that particular environment, saying the firm isn’t working on such an implementation now, and has no plans to do any other Motorola Inc 680X0 implementations besides the Unix one it offers currently. A version for the IBM-Apple Pink object-oriented operating system isn’t ruled out though. In the UK, SAS has been trying to build a relationship with ICL Plc for the last three or four years – with little success. However, it thi
nks some kind of contact will be forged over time and expects an implementation to the company’s DRS 6000 Unix box to materialise in the not too distant future. Future additions to the company’s product suite will include SAS Trader (for the financial markets), Geographic, Publish, Render and Image – all fairly self-explanatory developments. They’ll include a mixture of voice, graphics, video and other multi-media features. Some of this experimental technology will go into SAS System release 6.09, most will roll into version 7.0, which isn’t expected for a couple of years yet. All development is now done on Hewlett-Packard Co Precision Architecture RISC Snake workstations running Unix – SAS has taken $5m worth of the things – the SAS System as a whole now runs to over 4m lines of code.
Privately-held SAS ploughs an estimated 40% of its revenues back into research and development – its 1991 figures of $295m were 23% up on 1990, it says, with the European sector accounting for 178m Deutschmarks, up some 34% on the previous year. SAS claims 3m users and 100,000 installations worldwide – around 11,000 of them are Unix – with 35,000 European sites. Having focused on the more traditional computer environments in the past it’s no surprise that Unix is SAS’s fastest growing market – 20% of new business in the UK is Unix, it says. Sales of its Unix products will, for instance, outstrip revenues from the DEC versions that it markets over the next year or so, it reckons. SAS’s current UK base is split 35% on IBM systems, 37% on MS-DOS personal computers, 15% on DEC and less than 10% under Unix. SAS brought in Cap Gemini Consulting vice-president Patrick Amzallag to add a slightly more objective tone to the proceedings – SAS is not a Cap Gemini client, we are led to believe. Amzallag says that to be successful it is not enough to be technically good. A company must be predominant in the eyes of decision makers. And SAS? They’re doing OK, he says.