SAS Data Management Review

Easy to use software with excellent technical support but connectivity can only be done through a third-party external driver

What is our primary use case?

As in any housing finance company, we have multiple source systems. 

One is on-premises and is used for loan management, and recently we implemented Microsoft Dynamics which is a cloud-based CRM.

We also have a system in place for our call center to manage their calls. It's called a CPS system. 

We require data from multiple sources to be in one central location. 

Previously we did not have any data warehousing, but now we are using SAS Data Integration Studio to get the data from multiple sources into a single location.

This is the major use case of SAS Data Integration.

How has it helped my organization?

The SAS Data Management software has enabled us to have a single source of truth for any data that was earlier being fetched from multiple source systems at multiple times

What is most valuable?

It's quite easy to use, even for a business user.

A person who does not have any background in coding, could with minimal training use this software to get any additional data elements or additional tables that they require but are not currently getting.

Also, it can connect to a variety of sources through an ODBC driver, so whether the solution is on-premises or on the cloud it can connect to all of the sources.

What needs improvement?

The installation and maintenance need to improve a lot. It's complicated.

The stability needs improvement in the tuning of the parameters, and the scalability could also be improved. Other solutions are better because they can load faster.

In the next release, I would like to have additional features that allow you to connect with other databases. For example, we are using Salesforce. If I wanted to connect to the Salesforce database, which is in the cloud, I would have to have an ODBC driver and have it configured first, even though there is direct connectivity available. You would have to purchase a third-party driver.

SAS Data Management cannot connect directly to SLBC. 

When using Tableau you enter your credentials and if you have access, there is a feature that allows you to connect directly from Tableau to Salesforce Database.

With SAS Data Management, you have to purchase an external drive, and then configure all of the tables for all of the data that you will extract from Salesforce. It's not a straightforward process.

Connectivity should be simplified, especially since it is a data management software, and it is expected that there will be multiple source systems.

For how long have I used the solution?

This solution was implemented in June, so we have been using it for six months now.

We are using the latest version of SAS Data Management.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We are still facing issues related to the stabilization because it requires some tuning, and depending on the usage you need to increase certain parameters. 

For example, RAM uses a certain process, and that customization is available, but the tuning is not done out of the box, so depending on the usage, you have to manually tune it. To manually tune it you need the help of the technical support team.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is easy to scale.

I haven't used any other Data Management Software yet, but in my opinion, I am quite sure that if the configuration of the hardware remains the same, then other software solutions might be able to perform better.

At times with SAS, simple processes can take a lot of time. If you look at other solutions such as Oracle, or SSIS which is in Microsoft, they are database solutions that can handle this kind of data and can load it faster.

For Data Management, we use only three to four people who are responsible for the ETL process, but overall there are always 20 to 25 concurrent users, who are mainly IT administrators or IT managers, and Business Analysts who are creating new dashboards or who are doing some ad-hoc analysis. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We contacted the technical support for the stabilization and for tuning the parameters.

The technical support is excellent. 

They always respond within an hour or two. 

If the issues are not resolved through email, then they arrange a Skype call or a call through WebEx, and if they are still not able to resolve your issue, they escalate it to a level two or level three-team that are available to help you 24/7.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Use used an in-house report solution which fetched reports in CSV. This was not optimal and took a lot of time to compile and analyse.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward but the installation and maintenance are quite complicated.

It took approximately one month for us to implement the entire solution and stabilize it.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented through a vendor. Their expertise was quite high as they had done multiple implementations before.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Single server setup is the easy to install and maintain but if you have a spare server for multi-server environment then it would be better

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated SSIS, Oracle, and Informatica. The reason that we went with SAS is that we have been using SAS since 2013 with an older version. We had a lot of data that was already in SAS, and we already had a team of SAS developers. 

Had we gone with a new software solution all together then we would have had to invest a lot in terms of human capital to get another team.

What other advice do I have?

If you are looking into implementing SAS you should have a team in place. Someone who has worked hands-on with SAS implementation, and someone who has SAS administration experience, otherwise it is difficult for a layman to resolve any issues that can come up during the implementation and stabilization.

This is true even with help from the technical support team because you need to understand and know how to read the log to be able to catch the errors.

Since there are multiple processes in Data Management itself, you will need to know which process is responsible for what part. So unless you have hands-on experience or have a team that has hands-on experience with SAS or any version os SAS I wouldn't recommend that they implement this solution.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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