Over the past few weeks I must have done about half a dozen SAS® 9.3 installations and deployments (mainly Linux 64-bit server and Windows 7 32-bit client). Not because of any problems really, just trying out a variety of options. My experiences have been very good. I must say the SAS installation and migration process is getting really streamlined now. Refreshingly easy actually. I even repeated a couple of installs because it would be easier to change some items during install than manually modify them in the new installation (something I wouldn’t have done with SAS 9.1.3). Of course, whilst SAS installations/migrations are getting more straightforward, I’d still recommend getting SAS Professional Services or one of the SAS partners to help – being businesses that install, migrate and configure SAS software on a daily basis they are very efficient and have extensive support resources at their disposal. I can’t imagine how it could be cost effective for SAS customers to acquire those skills when it’s something they might only do once or twice every few years.
My first impressions of SAS 9.3 have been very good. The installs and migrations went very smoothly. At Metacoda our installations are based on standard deployment plans and used for development and testing of our Metacoda Security Plug-ins software. Whilst our SAS installations are not very complex, we do have deployments with lots of carefully constructed, weird and wacky metadata security configurations. Deployments that, were you to see them in real-life, would have you wondering what was that administrator thinking! They are perfect for developing and testing our Metacoda Security Plug-ins software though! With SAS Migration Utility (SMU) based migrations our Lev1 and Lev2 security metadata came over perfectly from SAS 9.2 to SAS 9.3. We also did a clean empty Lev3 deployment too. I’m hoping that in future, with virtual folders in SAS 9.3, and the ability to easily export ACTs, users, groups, and roles, we could switch to using package exports and imports to promote this security metadata from SAS 9.3 to SAS 9.4 and beyond.
From our perspective SAS 9.3 seems to be very compatible with SAS 9.2 too. We were very pleasantly surprised to find our Metacoda Security Plug-ins ran in SAS Management Console 9.3 almost without change. A few minor modifications based on underlying changes in the SAS metadata model (the Login object changed its parent from SecondaryType to PrimaryType) and now we are running our plug-ins in SAS Management Console 9.3. We are so happy with it that our V2 release currently in beta will support both SAS 9.2 and SAS 9.3 when it goes live soon.
I have heard some people say they are hesitant about upgrading from SAS 9.2 to SAS 9.3 based on their experiences with SAS 9.1.3 to SAS 9.2. Personally I remember the move from SAS 9.1.3 to SAS 9.2 seemed more like a major version upgrade than a point release. I always wondered why SAS 9.2 was not SAS 10 ;). In contrast, the move from SAS 9.2 to SAS 9.3 does feel more like a point release upgrade to me. Whilst there may have been lots of improvements under the covers and a several welcome new additions, as a SAS platform administrator it still feels very similar to SAS 9.2. No huge learning curve and the users get to use almost the same clients they were using with SAS 9.2 M3 too.
I’ll certainly be recommending upgrades from SAS 9.2 to SAS 9.3 and for those currently on 9.1.3 it makes much more sense to me to go straight to 9.3 – the direct migration path is supported and why do two migrations and two rounds of testing when you can do one?
Some of the main administration oriented improvements I’m keen to look at in detail include:
- Integrated scheduled SAS metadata hot backups. Now everyone gets scheduled metadata backups out of the box with no down time for the metadata server.
- Easy SAS metadata restores with roll-forward recovery.
- SAS Management Console virtual folders for exporting and importing users, groups, ACTs etc.
- New SAS Management Console Search tab.
- Enhancements to pre-assigned libraries.
- IWA support for UNIX servers.
Keep an eye out for a few more posts from me on SAS 9.3. I’m hoping I get some time to document some of my 9.3 experiences as I investigate further.
Update 30Aug2011: Andy Ratcliffe mentions this post in his blog post NOTE: Upgrading to SAS 9.3 where he also makes some good recommendations about obtainining pre-installation architecture plans and post-installation implementation documentation.