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Thursday, 01 August 2019 23:13

SAS and open source are bigger and stronger together, SAS executive says


Global analytics software provider, SAS, is providing its customers more and more interactivity with open source tools and platforms to work in the way they want, says Shadi Shahin, Global Vice President of Product Strategy.

Whether you prefer R or Python, or containers or serverless, or anything else at all SAS wants to fit in with you, simplifying how rapidly SAS-based solutions can be developed and deployed.

Shahin visited Australia during July to speak with SAS customers and staff, making time to speak with iTWire. Shahin came onboard SAS eight months ago after a seven-year term at Red Hat.

“SAS is transforming internally and externally,” he said and is bringing the external perspective from his Red Hat experience to augment the internal message SAS has announced, namely open source is to be embraced; there is no competition. “SAS and open source are bigger and stronger,” Shahin said.

As Global Vice President of Product Strategy Shahin is responsible for developing where the SAS platform and tools go, based on where the market is evolving.

One such direction is to provide visual tools and lower the barrier of entering analytics, in response to how highly specialised data scientist tools and skills are.

It’s here that SAS sees open-source software and the provision of choice as the right way forward.

“… by building cloud-native software and giving customers options on how to get there. Everyone has their own flavour of cloud. We’re pushing software so customers can deploy on-premise, using OpenStack, a public cloud, or somewhere in between. We’re pushing so people can run containerised, serverless, move between clouds like AWS to GCP to OpenStack,” Shahin stated.

It’s a big investment in the platform to respond and lead where the market is going, Shahin explains. “We want all languages to use the power of the platform, so people can code in R or Python, etc., coding in the ecosystem and using SAS to make it real and monetise it,” he said.

Shahin explains the shelf-life of modes is decreasing, previously deprecating within nine to 12 months but now much faster. “So, how do you deliver faster? You code wherever you like, whether inside or outside SAS and then leverage SAS,” he said.

Shahin’s parlance for this is “choice and control,” giving IT departments control in what they manage, and providing governance and structure to data scientists enabling them to feel safe in their environment.

Providence, backwards compatibility and other matters are not always assured with an open-source library or GitHub repository, as terrific as those things are. It’s this that Shahin means by governance and control, and is a significant part of the SAS value - besides its analytic strength, of course.

Just start your analytics journey

Shahin also provided ITWire with his advice for companies wishing to start their analytics journey. “Just start,” he says.

“Some people want to detail end-to-end everything they want to do. That takes longer,” he said. “Just start one high-value target. Find one business problem, one question, one goal and prove value back to the business.”

“Make sure to see it from initiation to completion to deploying and monitoring. If you never deploy it, you never get value,” Shahin said.

Consider “day two operations - what will it take for me to make and monitor this goal. Feed on that, show it to stakeholders and get re-invested to solve massive problems.”

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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