SAS Global Forum ended two weeks ago. I thought by now someone would have written about SAS on the Mac and saved me the trouble, but since I don’t see much discussion of this in the blogosphere, here are my belated two cents.
If you have been using SAS as long as I have, then you probably know that running SAS on a Mac is nothing new. SAS Institute released SAS for the Mac lo these many years ago, but then dropped it just a couple years later because there weren’t enough users (read licenses) to justify it. And since then, of course, Mac users have gotten several different products that allow them to run Windows software. So anyone who really wants to run SAS on a Mac has had that ability for a while.
Given that history, the last thing I expected to see at the Opening Session was a demo of SAS on the Mac–much less on the iPad.
Of course, this is not the same SAS for the Mac that was dropped so long ago. This is the SAS Web Editor.
The SAS Web Editor is a nimble version of Display Manager that runs in a browser (any HTML 5 compliant browser). I learned about it just over a month ago when my husband mentioned to me, as we ate dinner, that he had read an interesting blog describing the SAS Web Editor. Thank you to AnnMaria deMars for getting the word out! Here is an official press release from SAS Institute dated March 6, 2013. The SAS Web Editor is a client-server application. The editor is the client. To use it, you must have SAS running on some server. That server can be local or remote. Considering how aggressively SAS Institute has promoted cloud computing over the last decade, it is perhaps surprising that it has taken this long to come up with Display Manager for the Web. The SAS Web Editor feels like a missing link. It makes a lot of sense.
Here are some specifics from the Opening Session. They used the SAS Web Editor in a browser on the Mac to access VMware to run SAS for Linux on the same Mac. Then they demoed the SAS Web Editor on an iPad (pictured above) which also used the Mac as its server. (Currently academic users of the SAS Web Editor use SAS Institute’s servers. Maybe for the opening session they were concerned about slow connection speeds to Cary. Given the complaints I’ve heard about the internet service at the Moscone Center, this is easy to believe.)
Of course, you can use the SAS Web Editor on Windows (which is what I am doing). So I find it interesting that they chose to demo it on Apple hardware. Not only did they show Macs and iPads in the Opening Session, but I saw a lot of iPads being used by SAS staff at the conference. I think this was a smart move for SAS Institute. Firstly, there is an undeniable Cool Factor associated with Apple hardware that can only help SAS’s reputation. At the present, SAS is loosing the battle for the academic market. Maybe this will help turn the tide. Secondly, this is a good time to distance oneself from Windows. This fact was underscored for me by an article in last week’s Economist magazine titled “Microsoft blues: Windows 8 is only the beginning of Microsoft’s problems.”
A few other interesting tidbits about the SAS Web Editor: It is not exactly the same as Display Manager, but the developers showing it in the Demo Room made it clear that they are working hard to get the kinks out. It is currently available only for academic use, but in the Opening Session it was said that it will be available as a free download–no mention of when. They also mention that it will be available for Android platforms.
You can still view the Opening Session online. The SAS Web Editor demo starts around 1 hour in.