Category Archives: SAS

Some Newer Articles and Blog Posts on the SAS v WPL Legal Case

For those of you who have been following the SAS Institute v WPL legal case, there’s been some interesting commentary. The first one up is a blog article from “The IPKat” entitled “Lengthy litigation, short shrift: Court of Appeal unmoved by SAS appeal.”  The blog post basically identifies the major arguments that SAS lost and WPL won in the court case.

The second article is on Forbes and is entitled “SAS v WPL Case Shows That Software Functionality Is Not Copyrightable.” This was published on December 8, 2013. This is really a layman’s view of the copyright case and is a good read for a quick understanding of what was decided by the appeals court.

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.

Final Judgment Dismisses SAS Claims on WPS – Finally

UK High Court hands down final judgment in SAS Institute v World Programming dispute

Well that’s the headlines in the Press Release from World Programming LTD. Judge Arnold upheld his preliminary findings on the case over copyright issues between SAS and WPS. In many, many ways, this is a landmark ruling for software companies and a huge win for the consumer.

Let’s be honest, what is important is the consumer and lower cost software is what is wanted by the vast majority of organizations that use the SAS System. We read press releases and tweets about how SAS is a great place to work, but in the end, it’s all about the customer and affordability.

In my opinion, the best part of the judgment is section 82 at the very bottom. “For the reasons given above, I dismiss all of SAS Institute’s claims except for its claim in respect of the WPS Manual. That claim succeeds to the extent indicated in my first judgment, but no further.” Italics are mine.

We get a lot of phone calls and requests for evaluations of WPS software every week. I imagine SAS has some idea of the publicity it helped generate by bringing the law suit. But I suspect that they never thought they would have a legal battle on their hands brought on by a small British outfit that is intelligent, strong willed and legally savvy. The common wisdom in Cary was probably that WPL would fold when the first law suit was filed.

Here are the important links:

Final UK High Court Judgment (25 Jan 2013)

CJEU Press Release (02 May 2012)

CJEU Judgment (02 May 2012)

Provisional UK High Court Judgment (23 July 2010)

 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.

Top 10 Reasons for WPS Popularity

I had an interesting discussion earlier in the week and was asked what I felt the Top 10 Reasons that WPS is gaining such popularity and notoriety as a SAS replacement. I had to think about that for a while, but I finally came up with these 10 reasons. They’re in no particular order of importance, so here it goes.

1. All modules are included for one reasonable fee.

2. Microsoft certified for 64-bit Operating Systems.

3. Eclipse GUI is an advanced interface and editor for programmers.

4. Server licenses are inclusive meaning no client license(s) required.

5. No data service provider fees.

6. No fat upfront license fees, just the same annual fee each year.

7. High performance sorting, easily out runs our competitors.

8. Simple point and click installation. No gigabyte installs or downloading of external files and the inevitable confusion and conflict over dependencies.

9. Third party interfaces allow you to use the hottest statistical libraries from the open source program R.

10. Native support for Macintosh running OS X on x86.

So if you’re a WPS user, do you have any favorite reasons?

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

WPS and SAS – What Others are Saying

I became aware of a blog post the other day that I thought I would share. David Franklin is a WPS user and a well known and respected SAS Consultant. David has been slinging SAS code for 25 years and wrote a blog post about WPS. I think it’s a fair and attractive review of WPS 2.5 as it pertains to the SAS language market.

David’s website is The theprogrammerscabin.com and the blog post where he writes about WPS as a viable alternative to SAS. His post is entitled, “A Quick Look at WPS version 2.5” and can be found at: http://www.theprogrammerscabin.com/TM201009.htm

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

Open Source BI

I ran across an interesting blog post the other day and thought it was worth sharing. The article, Open source BI: New kids on the block is a set of view points from Open source vendors discussing Jim Goodnight’s comment that “We haven’t noticed [open source BI] a lot. Most of our companies need industrial-strength software that has been tested; put through every possible scenario or failure to make sure everything works correctly. That’s what you’re getting from software companies like us – they’re well tested and it scales to very, very large amounts of data.”

I find it an entertaining read and agree with some of what is argued, but I think the bigger point that is missed is not whether Open source BI will continue to gain momentum and replace commercial BI products, but how Open source will become integrated into and begin working in tandem with commercial products.

Technorati Tags: BI,Open Source,SAS,SAS Replacement

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

What is in Your BI Stack?

Earlier this week, I was sitting around talking to a few friends at a place called the Tilted Kilt (not a bad place either) about what constitutes their analytics platform in regards to software that they use on a regular basis. One fellow works for a major finance house here in town, the second person works for an educational consortium, and the third works for an advertising agency of about 100 employees.

Pretty much as expected, both the finance and the education employee are stuck with what is “provided” by their employer. In other words, they’re not allowed by the IT group to add any software to the “standard” analytics desktop (for whatever that means). The software for these two folks was pretty straight forward and included an expensive stat package (SAS) and Excel.

Lynn, who works for an ad agency was fairly unique in my view because of the diversity of tools she had at her disposal. She had the standard Microsoft Office install, but also had SPSS, Stata, RapidMiner and R, as well as a data visualization package which I simply cannot remember the name of right now.

I understand that some of the tools that Lynn uses is driven by the fact that they are open source and cost effective, but she’s also one of the smartest data analysts I’ve known for the last six or seven years. It started me thinking about what I use most often and currently, my BI stack consists of:

WPS – a SAS language compatible software application

R – open source statistics and graphics

Bridge to R – interface into the R system for WPS users

Excel – spreadsheet

Ggobi – data visualization

Google Refine – data cleansing

Looking at my list, three of the six software applications are open source.

I’m curious to hear from others on what constitutes your BI stack and whether your organization allows you to augment the software with tools of your choice. I’m especially interested in hearing how your company deals with open source software and if you think that having a choice of tools allows you to think outside the box?

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

WPS and SAS Windows Server Pricing Comparison

Starting back in 2008, we started to do a Pricing Comparison between SAS and WPS on the Windows Server platform. This year, for 2010, we’ve performed our third Pricing Comparison and have just made it available on our web site.

We decided to deviate just a bit this year and we chose to price comparison two, four and eight Logical CPU (LCPU) platforms instead of the previous one, two, and four Logical CPU servers as in the past. There are two primary reasons for making this change. First, it’s almost impossible to find a single core server any longer. All the low end servers are now two LCPU servers. The trade up from a single core to a two LCPU server is also being pushed because hardware vendors are not offering maintenance on single core servers since they are so old. The second reason for the change is that we are rarely asked to provide a quote for a single core server. There just isn’t a market any longer for running analytics on a single LCPU platform.

The price differential between WPS and SAS is eye opening. As a matter of fact, you can license a WPS eight core server instead of a SAS eight core server, and have enough money left over to pay for the new server and give 10 of your analysts a 5% raise for three years.

You can view the pricing comparison by going to the MineQuest web site or by clicking on the following link: Pricing Comparisons Between WPS and SAS.

Edit note: The link above has been updated to reflect the 2012 comparisons.

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

Sweating a River over SAS Pricing

On my way out of a local technology meet up last night, I noticed a guy sitting in the car next to mine and he was looking highly distressed. Actually, he looked like a guy who was just served some divorce papers and was desperate for some booze.

Now normally, I mind my own business but his car window was down and the guy looked like he was getting ready to cry.

“Hey friend, how are you doing? Are you alright?”

He spun his head around, not realizing that I was standing next to his car and was caught off guard by my presence. He seemed out of sorts and his eyes were bloodshot, as if he had been crying.

“Have you seen the latest SAS license fees…” he was muttering, “the latest SAS license fees…”

Until then, I hadn’t noticed the jacket he was wearing had the logo of a large company that provides processing services and reporting to other business customers.

“You’re talking about being labeled as a Data Service Provider by SAS Institute, aren’t you?” I couldn’t get my words out before he interrupted.

“They want to quadruple my annual license fees… QUADRUPLE! Don’t they know there’s a recession going on?”

I took a few steps back, “Well yeah, they are known for doing this…”

“They want me to provide them with a list of all my customers so they can try to sell SAS products and services directly to them…”

I tried to tell him that there are alternatives to using SAS, like WPS which is pretty much a drop-in replacement for what he was doing, but before I could get the entire sentence out, he interjected…

“The SAS people also told me that if any of their existing customers drop SAS software because of the business services we provide, then our company will have to cover their license shortfall.”

He started whimpering.

“They’re saying that my business is also in competition to a market they want to really expand services to in the future…”

He slumped forward and started whimpering again. I looked around to see if anyone else was watching and would offer some comfort. I reached through the car window and put my hand on his shoulder, a little fearful that he might try to grab my arm and bite me. I did my best to console him.

“WPS, man… your best solution to regain control from the beast is WPS. No crazy DSP fees or flakey pricing.”

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

Who is Considering a Switch to WPS from SAS?

I saw this tweet come by today and was pretty interested in the poll that it linked to on KdNuggets. The poll ask who may be interested in switching analytics packages from SAS to WPS or to R.

The results, although a small N of cases shows just how much momentum that WPS has garnered since the beginning of the year. As a reseller, I get calls everyday from companies who are wanting to leave the pain of high SAS annual license fees. When I share with consulting colleagues the amount of pent up demand to switch, they usually act like I’m over hyping what is happening.

With the new release of WPS 2.5, WPS is available as a 64-bit product for all the platforms that support 64-bit processing. Rather interesting, WPS is listed in the Microsoft 64-bit compatible catalog, but I don’t see SAS listed in the directory as being compatible.

So, take a look for yourself. You can find the poll at KDNuggets by clicking here. The full url is:

http://www.kdnuggets.com/polls/2010/switching-from-sas-to-wps.html

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

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WPS and SAS Lawsuit – the First Findings From the High Court of London

Now that we’ve heard the courts response to SAS Institute’s charges against World Programming Limited (WPL) of improperly creating an interpreter of the language of SAS, I hope a lot of companies and language developers sit back and understand what has just happened and what was just won. It has some real world ramifications and long term issues that will impact these organizations and developers who use either of these products. Finally… there’s competition in the market for companies and other organizations that use the language of SAS.

Why did SAS decide to pursue a legal challenge to World Programming? I firmly believe it’s because they were feeling the shock of lost sales and renewals to WPL. The legal challenge was, in part, an attempt to slow down WPS sales by introducing fear and uncertainty in the market place. This worked to a degree as some companies decided to wait until the court decision was announced before deciding to go forward with a WPS purchase. To reinforce that belief, it’s also my understanding that SAS attempted to push back the trial date time-and-time again to the end of the year. That was to no avail. I also doubt the reason for delaying the case was because the legal staff at the Institute and their hired London Attorney’s were unprepared to push forward with the suit. Seriously, how can you file a suit and not have the evidence ready and at hand?

One other point I want to mention. It looks to me like SAS was caught off guard by the World Programming Press Release and SAS was frantic to issue a release of their own in an attempt to save face. When they did issue a release, they didn’t state anything in Section 332 of the Courts Findings that the court found in favor of World Programming. It’s my opinion that this was not an oversight but was disingenuous and purposefully misleading. Again, the reason could very well be to try to keep the customer community in a state of confusion.

Interestingly, in the mind of many companies and individuals, the idea that SAS decided to sue WPL was an indication that the WPS software has gotten pretty darn good. The fear that WPS was becoming more feature rich and running on all the popular platforms (Mac, Linux, SUN, SPARC, z/Linux, AIX, Windows, and z/OS) had to be a great cause of concern at the Institute. Actually, some of the calls I received from companies interested in WPS learned about the product because SAS Institute issued a press release which was published in numerous trade papers back in November of 2009.

Another question many people have asked is “Why did SAS sue WPL in the UK?” I imagine it’s because WPL has no corporate presence in the United States. Hence, they were probably forced to go to court in London. Also, I’ve heard that SAS realizes as much as 40% of its revenues from the EU. WPL being across the pond has much more branding and name awareness in the EU than in the US so that may have been another reason to go to court in the UK.

So what about the decision? First, the court’s decision is that… it is legal to create a language interpreter based on published documentation and that the WPS software is legitimate (See Section 332. Part iv).

On the assumption that Pumfrey J’s interpretation of Article 1(2) of the Software Directive was correct, WPL has not infringed SAS Institute’s copyrights in the SAS Components by producing WPS (see paragraphs 245-250 above).

Reading through the courts decision, I don’t see that there is an injunction and WPS is free to continue in selling their interpreter. The court only agreed with the SAS claim that there was copyright infringement in a single WPS manual. I noticed that manual has been taken down and I assume is being rewritten.

I’m sure there are many legal specifics around the charges, it was an interesting claim that they laid forth. I like the way a friend of mine argued how difficult it is for SAS to try to argue the charges. He stated, “Just imagine if you read a book about butterflies, and because you read that book, the author claims that you cannot write a book about butterflies.”

Companies

What is the impact? It means that there’s literally thousands of companies who have not been able to justify the cost of products put forth by SAS who will now be able to leverage the language. As a reseller, the calls I receive usually start with a description of why they are looking to move away from SAS products or have been provided a quote that was too expensive for them. These are first time licensees as well as big name Fortune 100 companies. The list of organizations that license WPS truly runs the gamut of organizations who are frustrated with the pricing and the sales practices of the Institute.

Developers

For the SAS language developer working in a corporate setting, this decision possibly means more job security for many of you. Since the cost of WPS is so reasonable compared to SAS, many smaller companies can afford to bring on the language. It also means that due to the economy, companies who are being forced to aggressively control costs have a choice now to move their processing to a WPS based solution as a way of controlling licensing cost and not terminating developers.

The good news is that you can continue to leverage your training and skill sets using WPS as it relates to your SAS experience. It also means more applications on a variety of systems can be written using WPS because the cost is typically one-fifth to one-fourth the cost of SAS on a server.

Also, it’s worth noting that WPS runs natively on Mac OS X and z/Linux. Neither of these OS platforms are currently supported by SAS. I believe SAS stopped developing for Mac back with v6.2.

Consultants

For consultants, it means a new market area to apply your trade and practice. At one time I was a SAS Quality Partner and it became obvious to me (as well as to many other QP’s) that our customers were not looking to embrace SAS products any longer but instead, were looking at ways to lower cost by either dropping certain products or moving the processing to smaller and more affordable platforms. WPS will now provide consultants with a vehicle to move their consulting in directions where their training and expertise can still be used without loss or change of rates.

Also, acquiring SAS Software as a consultant is a pricey proposition. The Institute offers numerous types of consulting relationships and the cost of such associations starts at $3,000 or so. A WPS license currently costs a consultant less than one-third that much.

Going Forward

Going forward, I see nothing but great possibilities for WPL and the WPS product. I’ve kicked around scenario’s with other consultants regarding how SAS may change their approach now that WPS is a viable, legitimate and legal market choice. Will SAS lower their prices to match WPS? We all highly doubt it. Since SAS is so focused on Vertical Market Applications, will they lose interest in the foundation products and leave that market to WPS? The only way I can see that happening is if enough customers abandon SAS on those product lines. Will World Programming start to innovate by creating their own PROCS or product lines? I can’t imagine that’s not in the cards but we’ll have to see how these hands get played out.

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