ORLANDO, Fla.--SAS Institute Inc. is hoping that its commitment to Java in Version 9 of its namesake business intelligence system will prove to enterprises that the companys complex software is becoming more accessible to a larger user population.
SAS Version 9, which was announced last week at the companys user group conference here, replaces a proprietary client interface with a Java-based front end designed to give SAS applications a more modern look and feel.
"Thats an area they need some help in," said SAS user Sharon Sibigtroth, managing director at AXA Client Solutions LLC, in New York.
Version 9, due at midsummer, also features a Java middle tier, sitting between the SAS server on the back end and any Java-based client, that is expected to make this version of SAS more interoperable with other applications, according to SAS officials.
This new Java middle tier also provides state management; user profiling and security services to the client; and load balancing and connection pooling for the server, increasing scalability.
Jim Goodnight, chairman, CEO and founder of SAS, said the company is more committed than ever to Java and open standards. "Were gong to stick with developing [JavaServer Pages]," Goodnight said. "Were a Java shop and plan to stay that way."
In addition to the interface and interoperability improvements, the new Java support will essentially turn Java developers into SAS developers.
But SAS, of Cary, N.C., also added a host of features to keep happy its large installed base that uses SAS for complex statistical analysis and data mining. For instance, the most common processes of the business intelligence software, such as sort, summary and regression analysis, are threaded across multiple processors. This will give most SAS customers significant performance improvements.
In addition, metadata management in Version 9 is automated during the extraction, transformation and loading process, easing data warehouse building. Also new is support for parallel I/O support, also expected to enhance performance, and user connection pooling that will allow SAS applications to support thousands of concurrent users.
The expanded Java support is a part of the continuing evolution of SAS as it moves beyond being a provider of application frameworks to delivering packaged applications and hosted services.
Enrique Mejorada, vice president for risk controls at energy company Calpine Corp. and a SAS user, said he has little concern about being neglected as SAS seeks to expand its user base. But he does have doubts about the companys ability to deliver new solutions as fast as it promises.
"They must deliver and deploy at the speed the market demands," said Mejorada, in Houston. "This is a very challenging task.
Information processing can be very difficult. SAS tools must evolve to a point that they are real-world-relevant to the user, easy to deploy, easy to use, easy to understand, affordable and timely."
Mejorada said he welcomes the new version of SAS but said many of the improvements of Project Mercury, slated to be released in phases over the next 18 to 24 months, are already needed.
"SAS is famous for its 35-hour workweek. But the rest of corporate America is working 80-hour weeks," Mejorada said. "I wish SAS would stay and keep up with me."
Additional reporting by Stan Gibson