Something I, and others, have been looking forward to for a while has been the release of SAS® 9.4 M8, and so I was excited to see Margaret Crevar’s SAS Communities post about it: SAS 9.4 M8 is now available!!. Chris Hemedinger also posted about it on the SAS Users blog: SAS 9.4 Maintenance 8 is available. I was keen to get stuck into the detail in the documentation: What’s New in SAS 9.4 Guide to Software Updates, January 2023 (SAS 9.4, Rev. 940_23w05), SAS 9.4M8 Is Released.
M8 is the latest maintenance release of SAS 9.4 and I have heard several times how it will help alleviate some of the uncertainty around the future of the SAS 9.4 platform by extending Standard Support for SAS 9.4 for another 5 years (until 2028) and, as Chris mentioned in his post, “… demonstrate the commitment of SAS to support users of the SAS 9.4 platform for many years to come.”
I find the fastest way to review the M8 changes is to search for “M8” in the large PDF documents rather than reading through each individual web page:
In my reading, I noticed how M8 differs somewhat from prior SAS software maintenance releases. Over the years I have come to expect that SAS 9.4 maintenance releases bring refreshed SAS products with some new features, updated 3rd party libraries to include the latest security patches, support for newer versions of the JRE/JDK, and support for newer operating systems. M8 seems to differ from prior “M” releases in the larger list of products that have been retired, including some that surprised me or left me with a few unanswered questions:
- SAS Information Delivery Portal: One of the key SAS Intelligence Platform web apps in the past. I have seen some extensive portal deployments in my time.
- SAS Web Report Viewer: I didn’t see any mention of SAS Web Report Studio being refreshed or retired in M8 just the viewer. As it didn’t get specifically mentioned, is it still there, or have both of them been retired? I guess I will find out soon.
- SAS/SECURE: Whilst not a high profile product, SAS/SECURE was bundled with Base SAS with SAS 9.4 which meant that extra PROC PWENCODE methods became available to all SAS customers. The documentation has “The METHOD= option supports the SAS003, SAS004, and SAS005 values, but only if you have SAS/SECURE.”, so with SAS/SECURE retired in SAS 9.4 M8, will those methods still be available in M8? I assume they must as they are probably extensively used now. This makes me wonder whether SAS/SECURE the product has been retired but the underlying SAS/SECURE software is still bundled into Base SAS 9.4 (and just not known as SAS/SECURE anymore). I will test this aspect out when I have SAS 9.4 M8 installed (currently downloading).
I can only assume that these retired products (and the others mentioned in the documentation) are no longer extensively used, or customers plan to migrate off them soon. Given the number of older SAS platforms I have seen over the years, I do wonder.
This phrase appears many times in the documentation in relation to the retired products: “If you order SAS 9.4M8, these products and features are not included in that order.” For a new installation it’s clear that would mean they do not get installed. I wonder what happens with an Upgrade-in-Place (UIP) installation? I will have to try it out and see.
In terms of what made the cut for M8 and what didn’t, I was pleasantly surprised to see SAS/IntrNet got a 9.4 M8 refresh. SAS/IntrNet is a product I used extensively in its early days, and I had a great fondness for it (hence the hat above). I haven’t used it for several years now, the product not the hat, so was intrigued to see it has lasted so long when more recent products like SAS Information Delivery Portal did not. Perhaps there are lots of critical SAS/IntrNet web apps still out there in active use?
What are your thoughts? Are there any changes that surprised you? Are you still on SAS 9.4 and looking forward to upgrading to M8, with its extended support timeframe, or have you already been able to move to SAS Viya? If you still rely on any of the retired products and need to stay on 9.4 M7, are you concerned about the support level being reduced from Standard to Limited in 2025, or do you think you will have moved to SAS Viya by then? Please leave a comment below and let me know.