Category Archives: Business

Tools vs a Tool Chest of Tools

Back in the day when I owned free-standing homes, I used to go to Lowes or Home Depot probably twice a week. Buying a condo where most of the maintenance is provided was the smartest thing my wife and I did. It cut my Home Depot visits down to maybe once a month and freed up my time to pursue and work on other tasks.

What made me think about this was a conversation thread where two “quants” were arguing over which software products they use. The were extremely specific about the problem they were trying to solve, and one referred to his search as looking for the best tool. That statement made me think about Home Depot, which got me to wondering… are analytical software products best viewed as independent tools or a tool chest loaded with “tools”?

It depends on the software provider and how they look at the market. I think most analytical software providers view the customer as someone who is only interested in a basic set of tools and beyond that will purchase additional tools at an additional price. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule here. Some customers are only looking to solve a problem such as a forecasting problem. They are only interested in a package that forecasts.

Other customers look at the breadth of the toolkit and are interested in applying the tools in the tool chest to other analytic problems. For example, WPS comes quite complete with a well-rounded set of tools for handling data collection, data acquisition, ETL, reporting and many of the more advanced statistical tasks. WPS tends to include all the tools in one package and is priced with heavy discounts when compared to other providers.

Our competitor on the other hand views the customer as one who should buy each tool set individually. If you want graphics, you buy the graphics package. If you want more statistically oriented procedures, you then must buy the statistics tool set. If you want to access data in a database, then you need to buy a specific tool for accessing that data.

This is one aspect that distinguishes WPS from its competitor, SAS. SAS makes sure that you pay for each tool set individually and strives to optimize the tool sets so that you must purchase multiple tool sets to do a task. Of course, this costs you a lot of money.

This practice also has another negative and that is it retards your ability to apply analytical tools to your specific problem. Many of us in the BI space are problem solvers. We are assigned a task to solve and set out to solve the problem. How often have you found the situation where the tool or library that you want, or need is not available? It’s one of these issues that profoundly impacts our ability to completes assignments in a timely fashion and within budget.

When you license WPS on a Windows or OS X Workstation or on a Windows or Linux Server the library modules and database engines that are included with the current release (v3.3) are:


If you are a small business or a startup, purchasing analytical software piecemeal is a costly headache. It is not start up or small business friendly and is designed to gouge the customer as much as possible when cash flow is a precious asset.


Which brings us to the practice of charging extremely high initial fees to acquire the software and then offering discounts for “maintenance” after the first year. I’ll go into more specifics about pricing along with real world examples in another blog post, but suffice to say, this is another excuse for the practice of gouging the customer. The argument that is often used for sustaining this practice is that the cost of bringing on the customer for the first year must include the substantial cost of support. I’m going to lay it on the line and call this a myth. It is not reality and is simply an argument set forth to price the software at the very highest levels.

Seriously, what is the added cost? The software provider still has to provide documentation to existing customers and that is in electronic format. It is the exact same documentation for new customers. So, the cost is the same.

Shipping the software is almost always done by digital download. It is the same downloaded software for existing customers as for new customers. Hence, the cost is the same.

It is well known that our competitor is very difficult to do business with. Even they know it but I’m willing to bet that the sales and marketing culture at that place is so ingrained that it cannot change.


When you and your organization are looking to add new licenses, reduce annual cost and be able to provide your employees with a tool chest that can solve a whole host of problems without having to go back to purchasing for a new acquisition, then WPS is easily the product for you.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS consulting and contract programming services and is an authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Why Microsoft? Why?

As a business user and knowledge worker, I am extremely dependent upon my workstation and laptop. Like many of my readers, we spend a great deal of time developing a work-flow for analytics as well as business processes for running our business. When I am forced to accept updates and my systems go south, I must spend time fixing this. That’s why I get so frustrated with Microsoft.

The other thing that has really gotten my goat is that ads are now starting to appear in my OS. There are ads in the file explorer window! I want a clean, non-cluttered interface and OS. I don’t want to be hampered by an OS that makes me lose concentration of crap popping up to distract me.

So, I have decided to embark on an experiment. I’m going to setup a used Dell laptop to use as my primary machine running Linux. If after 60 days or so, I will decide if I make the permanent move away from MS for my full-time machine and only use the Windows workstation for testing code.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS consulting and contract programming services and is an authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

The Application Economy

I pretty much finished up my Christmas shopping two weeks early this year. Even the wrapping and delivery completed thanks to Amazon this year. I’ve never had my shopping done so early in December and I’m darn happy about that!

That gave me time to watch some TV this weekend and since much of College Football is over for the season I ended up cruising over to Bloomberg TV. I watched a program called “Hello World” on the Russian Tech scene and it was fascinating to learn about what was being created in Russia.

The sponsor of the show was CA (aka Computer Associates) and they had an interesting and entertaining commercial titled “The Front Porch” which is about the Application Economy. We as analytical developers rarely think about software as an application the same way as consumers do. Our customers are often different departments or divisions in the corporation we work at. We don’t work at creating an application product that meets the needs of tens-of-thousands of users, or even millions. We mostly develop products used for tens of people or if we are lucky, hundreds.

A lot of the reason for that is that many of us don’t see what we do as developing an application that is consumed by users outside of our organization. The cost of commercial software is often so high that it makes it cost prohibitive to invest the hundreds of hours needed to create the application. The other issue many run into is the availability of data that can meet the needs of the consumer and is not protected by agreements.

The market has responded with software such as Python and R. However, the problem with both is the amount of data that can be processed. We live in a Big Data world and expecting data to fit into available memory is often not practical. Many of us are also dependent on using the Language of SAS for processing and displaying of data.

Obviously, WPS is a better choice than SAS when it compares to pricing, especially on the desktop. If you create an application that requires, say, WPS on a workstation, it is much easier to make a sale (your application and a WPS license) when the first-year cost is one-tenth the cost of the SAS system.

In future articles, I want to touch on creating applications for resale using WPS. I want to talk about “applications” for such things as Smart Cities, Marketing, Credit Scoring and Fraud Analytics.

We truly live in an era where we as analysts and statistical developers can contribute our skills starting a business, providing a product and doing it all with minimal cash outlay. The internet is a money pipe into the home and business. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in beautiful Tucson Arizona. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS consulting and contract programming services and is an authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Richmond, CA Hackathon – Meeting of the Minds

On the weekend of October 17-18th the Meeting of the Minds Civic Hackathon will take place in Richmond, California.  Amongst the various tools and facilities that will be available for the Hackathon, World Programming will be providing WPS software ( ) and support for any SAS programmers taking part in the event who would like to create and run programs in the language of SAS. The WPS software will be available on a server provided by Cisco and also for installation onto your own workstations running Linux, OS X or Windows.  Teams who use WPS software at this event will be given a license at no cost, and can use the product and all of its features for an additional 6 months after the event.

There will be data sets that can be used to create civic oriented applications and the data is categorized into Economic Development, Public Spaces, Health and Environment, Sustainability, Digital Divide and Education. So there is plenty of data available for a myriad of subject matter experts to use.

There is a $5,000 cash prize from Qualcomm awarded to the winner.

More information on the Hackathon can be found at:


About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Macro Catalog Compatibility

Here’s something rather interesting that I discovered earlier today. If you create and compile a macro catalog on say Windows, you can simply copy that catalog onto Linux or Mac OS X. The compiled catalog is now accessible on all the x86 WPS supported platforms.

Think about how important that can be. If you are a developer and want to be sure that your catalogs are portable across x86 platforms, then you are in good shape with WPS. Think of the cost savings. With WPS, you could create compile and distribute on x86 systems. In contrast, our competitor would require you to purchase a Linux and Windows version of there software to do the same.

‘nuff said!

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Tucson – Western Office

We’ve finally made the move to Tucson and are getting ready to move into new office space in the next few weeks. We are still finalizing some of the corporation issues but we have made some progress. Moving a business is never easy! I thought it would be interesting to share with some of my readers what we have discovered about Tucson as a place for small business and emerging technology businesses.

First, it’s pretty well known nationally that the city of Tucson, and to some degree Pima County is not very embracing and welcoming when it comes to small business and technology businesses. There are a few exceptions to this and I want to point out two of these at the very beginning. Thryve and StartUp Tucson are very hands-on and welcoming. These folks have a plan and great ideas. They deserve a lot of support.

The reputation of Tucson for not being business friendly is well known. There are lots of folks who have left the Tucson area and migrated back east. They are quick to talk about the raw beauty of Southern Arizona as well as how terrible the business climate is in the area. Much of the blame seems to be around a very welfare centric government, higher than average union memberships, highest sales taxes and property taxes in the state of Arizona and an alarming lack of good leadership.

It’s a common refrain among the folks I have met here who have migrated to the Tucson area that you either bring your job or bring your money. The meaning behind that is the job scene here is pretty poor so you need to have a job that is portable – where you can basically work from anywhere. The bring your money part of it means you need to be wealthy enough to move here as in being a retiree because it’s slim pickings otherwise. Which has some ramifications if you are married and your spouse needs to find a job.

When was the last time you saw an advertisement in Fortune, Forbes, or Bloomberg’s Businessweek on the virtues, attractions and compelling reasons for locating your business to Southern Arizona?

Issues surrounding education are enormous here. We have discovered that the politicians and ruling elite (currently a democrat majority) and specifically referring to the Mayor, City Council and Pima County board of Supervisors are anti-education. Strange as that sounds, the facts are there.

TUSD which stands for the Tucson Unified School District is generally just awful. I have not yet met anyone who sends their child to a TUSD school. The priorities expressed are so out of whack with reality that it’s kind of entertaining. Everyone we have met here sends their children to a charter school (Basis Tucson) or to a private school. TUSD is widely viewed as being inferior at every level including curriculum, teachers, superintendent and school board. Once you earn that reputation, it’s really hard to shake it. It tends to follow you for decades.

The Tucson political elite tends not to support higher education either. Even with the University of Arizona in the city, Tucson shuns any venture supporting higher education. Grand Canyon University was very interested in building a major campus in Tucson. GCU is a private school that has a religious orientation. Building a campus in Tucson would have meant hundreds of good paying jobs at occupational levels from janitorial and maintenance to faculty positions. However, the city council torpedoed this, in large part by council member Regina Romero. It just defies any logic how this once in a life time opportunity was wasted by the (ignorant) elite running this town.

As further evidence of the anti-education mentality by the elected elite, one of the very first considerations to stave off an operating deficit at the county level was to shut down a number of library branches. What consideration was given to reducing hours on weekends or create summer hours? Instead, it was the heavy handed threat to just shut down these branches. I have to wonder if the idea is a back handed attempt to keep certain patrons from reading and learning about how bad the local government is instead of offering a high quality service.

Pima Community College is another horror story. Having just been removed from probationary status after two years with the possible loss of accreditation. Still in question is the quality of the education, the college readiness of students who enroll at PCC and the faculty in particular.

Tucson is said to have the 5th highest poverty rate in the country as reported by CBSNews. I suspect that the city elite has not recognized or correlated that education and poverty are highly related. That would be a very simple observation to make for even the most casual observer. The public school system is so badly managed they can’t even attract teachers to fill 200 open positions. Low salary and miserable conditions are often cited as reasons for so many unfilled vacancies. At least that’s what I hear when I talk to some of the local business people. TUSD has to recruit teachers from outside of the state, in part because the districts reputation is so awful.

There have been some gains made in Tucson. Comcast is opening a call center in the area will employ around 1100 people. There has also been an announcement in the last year about some warehousing and distribution jobs being created as well. Let me say, any new jobs are welcome and I have to applaud Comcast for opening a call center here, but Tucson needs jobs that are better paying than what is typically found at call centers and warehouses.

Tucson seems to move from one crisis to another. Tucson never really appears to solve a problem but instead offers to kick the problem down the road by considering additional research or offering to fund a feasibility study on a given project. Long term problem solving and positioning the area for future growth is not a strong forte demonstrated by city or county leadership.

My advice, if you are considering moving or opening a business in Southern Arizona is to do your homework. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t locate in Tucson proper (meaning the incorporated areas of Tucson). Take a look at the Catalina Foothills, Oro Valley and Marana as your future home base. These three communities seem to have the highest quality of life, income and education attainment in the area. They also have the best elementary and high schools. There’s plenty of quality office space in these areas. If you do a lot of sales online in Arizona (hence you have Arizona sales tax) the Catalina Foothills is probably the place to be. Two other areas that deserve mention but I have not yet researched these communities are Green Valley and Sierra Vista. Depending on their tax base, educational infrastructure and distance from other communities, they may be worthy of consideration.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

More Concerns about Tucson and the State of the Economy

In the last blog post, we discussed issues around opening a western office in Tucson, Az. I have received four emails and two phone calls about the blog post and whether we thought our experience should be construed as the “norm.” One caller who is local to Tucson (and God bless him for taking the time to call and discuss) explained at great length the disconnect between Tucson and the city of Phoenix and the declining quality of life in Tucson.

That conversation got me thinking about some parallel cities where the same thing seems to have happened. That is, the local economy went downhill and how peer communities viewed the situation. Take a look at Columbus, Ohio and Cleveland Ohio. It’s so similar to how Tucson and Phoenix view themselves that it’s Eeerrie (Erie, get it?)

Columbus is the state capital, lots of white collar jobs and some light manufacturing. Columbus is home to The Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute. Battelle is the world’s largest privately held think tank and employs 22,000 people. It’s also home to a number of Fortune 500 companies.

Having lived in Columbus for 30+ years, I can tell you that the people viewed Cleveland as part joke and part social welfare entity that really didn’t do much for the rest of the state. Cleveland was (and still is) dominated by democrats who’s agenda was to disperse as much social welfare as they could get their hands on. Cleveland’s reputation was so poor in Columbus that there was little serious contemplation about how the state could help the city. It found itself in a downward spiral and still has not been able to reconcile its union bias and liberal leanings to the rest of the state or rest of the country.

Now let’s drive two hours east from Cleveland and see what has happened to Pittsburgh. If there’s any single city that can be called the comeback city, it’s Pittsburgh, Pa. Here is a city (actually the whole regional area) that took an economic hit that was devastating. The bottom fell out of the demand for domestically produced steel. The city was on the ropes in so many ways but found a way to remake themselves just to survive. And boy have they. They have become a tremendously prosperous city.

Pittsburgh remade itself by utilizing the local universities. Carnegie Melon and the University of Pittsburgh are both powerhouse research institutions. Along with Duquesne University, Pittsburgh became an education and research Mecca. People in Tucson, most notably Regina Romero should take note of this. My understanding from reading articles on the Web and talking to business owners is that Ms. Romero (a Ward 1 Councilor) was instrumental in undermining Grand Canyon University and submarined the universities decision to not locate in Tucson. They have located in Phoenix and have invested over $400 million dollars ($400,000,000) in buildings, classrooms, dorms, etc… Just think about how many local jobs this would have created for Tucson. Here again we have a liberal political body that just seems happy to live in the 5th or 6th poorest city in the country. It’s just total ineptness.

Supporters of Ms. Romero are quick to say this was a misstep on her part and the larger council. I have to disagree. My definition of a misstep is that a mistake took place, something was overlooked, that it was unintentional. This was a deliberate act and Ms. Romero and the larger council were all purposefully part of this decision. Btw, the city didn’t want to let go of a golf course called the El Rio Golf Course where GCU wanted to build. Anyone who has visited Southern Arizona knows that there is no shortage of golf courses in the area. But there is a shortage of is water and golf courses consume an incredible amount of water. Go figure what the real reason is here but I suspect that Ms. Romero and the council are pretty much against religious universities and this was their way of thwarting Grand Canyon University opening a religious based school in Tucson.

I want to point out to the powers that are in Tucson that there are huge benefits beyond just the economic when you bring in companies and universities that are highly educated. You see, many of these organizations have programs that encourage employees to get involved in schools. Many companies actually adopt schools. These folks come into the class room and discuss careers, they tutor students in math, science and reading, they teach business skills. These services you get for almost nothing. Perhaps just a handshake and a “Thank You.”

So what happened with Pittsburgh? Companies have flocked to the region setting up research centers and local offices. They all want to be part of the technology and growth that comes out of the area. Computer Science, Robotics and Health Research is a big piece of this and both CMU, University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh region are well situated to take full advantage of this sector of engineering, manufacturing and science. If you have any doubts about Pittsburgh’s comeback and don’t want to spend days reading about it, check out this blog:

What is so interesting to me is how much Pittsburgh has cleaned itself up. The technology companies that are now in Pittsburgh are typically low environmental impact and high wage organizations. You still see some brown fields but those are quickly being eradicated. You don’t see smog like you did in the 60’s and 70’s and it’s a very pleasant place to live and visit.

For the city of Tucson and Southern Arizona, the loss of IBM and Grand Canyon University is irreversible. The horses have left the barn so to speak. Getting organizations like this to locate to your community are probably once-in-a-lifetime events. If opportunities like this do come up again, don’t blow it. If you do, Tucson is going to start looking like Flint, or Detroit Michigan.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Possible Office Expansion – Westward Ho!

As a company, we’ve been looking at expanding our footprint to the Western United States. Some reasons for it are purely selfish, a few are health related and some of the reasons deal with doing business with organizations that are two or three hours different in terms of time with the Eastern United States.

I want to start writing a few blog posts about this endeavor. We’ve been looking at opening an office in Tucson, AZ and even though the geography is strikingly beautiful, the realities of opening a business in Tucson is strikingly difficult.

Tucson is not very business friendly.

True. This city is known for its open hostility to businesses. This is well known out in the Western United States but not so much back in the Midwest or Eastern U.S. Tucson is basically a resort town with a few limited large businesses. The large employers seem to be University of Arizona, Raytheon (a missile systems developer), a medical complex and City and County Government. Note how many of the mentioned are either government entities or are attached to government funding. In other words, they tend not to create or produce capital but instead consume capital.

University of Arizona (UA) is probably the jewel in the city. But what is sad is that the vast majority of students who graduate from UA, cannot find a job in Tucson. They are forced to look for work in Phoenix, Los Angeles and the State of Texas. I guess there’s nothing smarter than spending the money to educate them and then throwing them out of the nest to seek work and develop products elsewhere!

Taxes are a mess. We still have not figured out what kind of states sales tax we would have to charge if we opened a business in Tucson. Each jurisdiction has a different sales tax rate and figuring out what your jurisdiction is (Tucson incorporated, unincorporated, are you north or south of River Road) is really tough. We’ve called twice and gotten two different answers. It also seems that sales taxes or Transaction Privileges Tax can change from month-to-month. If you go to the website, you will see tax tables for February and March.

As a small business or mid-sized business, we don’t want to spend our time trying to figure out how much the privilege costs us to sell a product from month-to-month. Also, when you compete nationally as well as globally, taxes have a big impact on your customers. Taxes have to be passed through to the customer if you want to survive.

The Transaction Privilege Tax Sales taxes is very high. Local municipalities add their own tax on to the state tax and when combined can be astronomical! In Tucson, you pay 8.1% sales tax. Probably one of the highest in the country.

There’s also a huge disconnect between the politicians/bureaucrats and the small business owners here in Tucson. We’ve talked to lots of small and mid-sized business owners and upper level managers, and just about every person we’ve talked with has felt that city and county government is a significant hindrance to the success of Tucson and the business economy.

One thing that I can’t stand is for folks to criticize and not offer suggestions or some possible solutions to the issues. So here are a few to start the discussion.

Suggestions for Improvement

The City has to become more business friendly. They are not going to be able to grow or even sustain the current economy unless they can bring in business from the outside. They cannot grow the economy to the level they need by developing the existing businesses.

Create a One Stop Business Center where potential companies can go to get the correct answers on what taxes they have to pay, the amount of sales taxes they have to pay, the licensing that is required, and other filing requirements. The city and county should set up a little store front that is in conjunction with companies like Comcast, Bank of America, the phone company, Office Max/Office Depot where there is an all-in-one business center. Here you can find out what kind of licensing, permits and taxes that you will be required to attain and pay. The private sector companies can have a small footprint to help new and even existing companies find out about services that they will most likely need and to sign them up. What company doesn’t need internet and banking services? We have not been able to locate such a source and as such, feel that the risks are quite high that we would miss something and be liable for fines and penalties.

Tucson should take a look at neighboring communities and see what is working for them. We see a huge difference between Oro Valley or the city of Marana in contrast to Tucson in terms of business climate and health. We have been steered many times to these communities by realtors, lawyers and bankers as the place you want to be in locating a small or midsized business.

Accentuate the positive. Craft a national story about how the educational resources (UA) is an asset to growing technology businesses. Talk about what kind of research is being done at the local level and by small businesses in the area. Talk up success stories. Discuss the low cost to lease office space.

Advertise in major publications like Fortune, Forbes and Bloomberg about Tucson and the business opportunities and the resources available in Tucson.

Do something about the sour state of education in the area. Elementary and High School is poorly funded. Same goes for community colleges. As a matter of fact, we just learned that the state of Arizona has stopped all funding of community colleges except for one county. As a business owner, I don’t want to have pay to attract talent from other states and help pay relocation costs. Support for education has to become a priority over support for state prisons.

Take advantage of the contacts and expertise of the Snow Birds and other wealth that is located in the Catalina Foothills. There is some amazing wealth in the Foothills. We’ve met folks who have run and sold large businesses who spend time in the Foothills who are worth tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. They grimace and grin almost as if it’s sport at the missteps that the city and county have taken in the last decade or two as it pertains to creating a viable and sustaining local economy. These folks are amazingly well networked and have the ability to move businesses here as well as encourage businesses to locate here.

Poach businesses from other States. Property taxes are very low in Arizona. Businesses are sensitive to labor rates, real estate costs, property taxes and educational resources for their employees as well as for the growth of the business. Tucson needs to set up a highly visible group that does nothing but pursue large companies to relocate to the area. Start raiding California for the technology companies by offering tax incentives as well as building an environment for cross-pollination of ideas, networking, concierge services for new businesses, free site location services, seven day permit approvals, etc…


The two questions I have to ask Tucson is “Does a Liberal leaning political government mean that it has to be at odds over the creation of jobs or even synonymous with the lack of jobs? Is there a conflict over creation of wealth by attracting small and mid-sized businesses and does that inherently mean that there’s an ever expanding gap of those who have vs. those who have not?” It doesn’t appear to be that way for liberal cities like San Francisco or Seattle, but it does seem that way for Tucson.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Some thoughts on a rainy Monday

The more I use Linux, the more I come around to understand just how much I can do with it. As a matter of fact, I could easily do without Widows and switch 100% of the way over to Linux if I wanted. The desktop(s) and business applications have really gotten that good.

Windows 8 just soured me on the whole MS ecosystem. When they bolted on the Metro interface on a server OS — that was the last straw for me. Who ever made that decision to strap on a touch interface to a server should be let go. Shown the door. Asked to leave…

I have Apple hardware here in the office, and it runs well, but I just have not been able to embrace it like so many others have. Apple makes some fine hardware and there’s a load of support for Office productivity applications as well as analytical apps. WPS runs quite well on OS X as well as R. As a matter of fact, I see a lot of R users who work on OS X as there preferred platform.

But Linux, and specifically Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04 have been especially good. I don’t have memory issues when I run large simulations in R that require a lot of RAM. With Windows, that is often a problem, trying to allocate a large block of memory and there’s not sufficient contiguous memory to hold a large array, vector or data frame. The memory management is significantly different under Linux than under Windows.

Use of NVidia’s CUDA framework seems to be predominantly used on Linux and not Windows. I’m not sure why that is to be honest.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles stating that MS is working feverishly trying to get Windows 9 out the door. No doubt (at least in my mind) it has to do with the terrible Metro interface and people staying away in hoards. Of course, you can slap Start8 by Stardock on Windows 8 and it makes it useable by implementing the start button, and kudos to Stardock for doing such a thing, but I still can’t find a way to embrace MS on the desktop any longer.

An interesting phenomena that I have been witnessing is how much analytical and scientific development has been happening over the years on the Linux platforms. There are a lot of tools out there that are helpful if you are a data scientist or working with “BIG DATA” as it pertains to Linux. My experiences in reselling WPS is that there is an equal amount of interest (perhaps more) in using Linux on servers than in running Windows servers. Cost is one factor but performance is also a factor. Linux often out performs Windows Servers dollar for dollar and CPU second to CPU second.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Building a BI Consulting Company Part II

In the previous post I mentioned that software costs and licensing can be a major impediment to offering a competitive consulting business. I’ve written numerous times demonstrating the cost between a WPS license and our competitor licensed product. You can see those articles here and here.

If you’re a small business and/or just starting an analytics business then cash flow is a major issue. You expect that there will be some significant startup costs but wisely choosing your products can have a major impact on whether you will be successful or not.

The same goes for what you can do with the license. For example, some software companies put the screws to you when you want to use their licensed software in a B2B fashion. This can be innocuous as creating reports and data sets for your customer. The vendor, if they realize it will then dramatically increase your license fees.

How about licensing issues between your company and the software vendor where they have a vested interest in a software solution and you want to offer a competing product? Or perhaps (and more likely) what if they develop a competing product to your solution and decide that they no longer want to provide your organization with a software license? This is a very possible scenario where software companies want to create or move into vertical market applications at the expense of their license holders.

So those are a few things to consider in regards to software costs and licensing. Do your research and ask questions of the vendor. It never hurts to be informed.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.