Saturday, October 03, 2009

SAS On Demand: Enterprise Miner

I am in the process of trying out SAS Enterprise Miner via the (relatively new) SAS On Demand for Academics. In our MBA data mining course at Smith, we introduce SAS EM. In the early days, we'd get individual student licenses and have each student install the software on their computer. However, the software took too much space and it was also very awkward to circulate a packet of CDs between multiple students. We then moved to the Server option, where SAS EM is available on the Smith School portal. Although it solved the individual installation and storage issues, the portal version is too slow to be practically useful for even a modest project. Disconnects and other problems have kept students away. So now I am hoping that the On Demand service that SAS offers (which they call SODA) will work.

For the benefit of other struggling instructors, here's my experience thus far: I have been unable to access any non-SAS data files, and therefore unable to evaluate the product. The On Demand version installed is EM 5.3, which is still very awkward in terms of importing data, and especially non-SAS data.  It requires uploading files to the SAS server via FTP, and then opening SAS EM, creating a new project, and then inserting a line or two of SAS code into the non-obvious "startup code" tab. The code includes a LIBNAME statement for creating a path to one's library, and a FILENAME statement in order to reach files in that library (thank goodness I learned SAS programming as an undergrad!). Definitely not for the faint of heart, and I suspect that MBAs won't love this either.

I've been in touch with SAS support and thus far we haven't solved the data access issue, although they helped me find the path where my files were sitting in (after logging in to SAS On Demand For Academics, and clicking on your course, click on "how to use this directory").

If you have been successful with this process, please let me know!
I will post updates when I conquer this, one way or another.


Unknown said...

I notice they avoided the use of SaaS to describe this offering. SaaS for SAS might not be the best marketing. SODA works only slight better in my opinion.

For its commercial applications I think SaaS for business intelligence products will struggle. They run headlong into privacy and security concerns that are often much stronger than concerns related to pricing and maintenance.

I think SAS could pick up small firms with SaaS offerings (SODA), but do small firms even use SAS? The barriers to entry are high. Strong for prediction, but SAS experts are pricey.

Galit Shmueli said...

Thanks Jason. Is SaaS the previous acronym used for SODA?

I don't know about pricing of SODA for small businesses, but I agree that if priced reasonably, such a market definitely exists. But first they have to get it to work more seamlessly with local non-SAS datasets.

Unknown said...

I'm not certain if they had a previous branding for SODA. However, SaaS is what is used across industry for Software as a Service. Just kind of funny given that it's pronounced the same way as SAS.