Tag Archives: Pricing

Cost of Porting Language of SAS to Python?

I recently had a discussion with a self-proclaimed data scientist who made a statement that was so broad, I had to challenge it. The discussion taking place is where a technical recruiter who was having difficulty finding SAS/WPS language developers for their marketing group was expressing some frustration. The young data scientist (still in college) jumped into the conversation with a statement “When you could execute the same applications on a open source tool like python it’s not surprising SAS is fading away.” [SIC]

Well first, I’m not real sure he understood that Python or R could not execute SAS language code. The other aspect, at least to me was the shocking naiveté of the statement simply because this data scientist never addressed the economics of the matter. So let’s do it for him.

Performing some back of the envelope calculations, say a programmer that is knowledgeable in both SAS and Python was given a contract to port 30 Language of SAS programs that average 3,000 lines of code. Let’s assume that on average the programmer can convert, test and document each program in two weeks. I’m going to estimate (probably on the low side) that the programmer is paid $85 an hour to do this conversion.

The programmers cost to convert all the programs would be 60 weeks x 40 hours a week x $85 = $204,000. One can procure a license for an 8 vcpu WPS server for ~$22,000 a year. Comparing the cost of a WPS license to spending $204,000 to convert it to Python, it would take more than nine years before you started to see a pay back on the conversion. Most ROI calculations I see in the tech industry are predicated on three years and not nine.

I just don’t see the ROI of converting existing Language of SAS code to Python unless you want to pay more money and be RAM constrained. However, I do see the ROI in converting your SAS Institute licenses to WPL licenses and execute the same code for much less. The pay back is almost immediate!

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.

Who says only big companies can afford to utilize Business Intelligence?

One of the reasons I got into reselling WPS was the fact (and it’s still a fact) that it’s very expensive for a new firm or startup to utilize SAS products. Actually, it’s prohibitively expensive. A commercial startup business is looking at $8700 for a desktop license that provides access to BASE, GRAPH and STAT. That $8700 is for the first year and it doesn’t include access to a database, Open Source R or reading and writing to desktop files like Excel and Access. Add those necessities in the price and you are looking at more than $15,000 for the first year and more than $4200 for renewal.

With WPS our pricing is different. We kind of joke that whatever SAS does pricing wise, we do just the opposite. We don’t have a high barrier in terms of cost to start using our products. Actually, we encourage you to use our products! Currently, we charge $1,311 for a single desktop license. That’s the cost for the first year and it includes all the database engines that you would want.

We don’t have a high barrier to using the language. If you are already familiar with the language of SAS, then you are ready to go with WPS.

We don’t have a high barrier when it comes to accessing your SAS data sets. We can read and write SAS data sets just fine.

But enough about barriers, let’s talk about servers.

The pricing differential is even greater when you start looking at servers. You can license a small WPS server for less than $5,700. That’s a two LCPU server and it includes all the bells and whistles that our desktop licenses include as well. Meaning it includes all the database access engines. The nice thing about our licensing is that we don’t have client license fees. Client license fees are fees that you pay to be able to access the server you just bought! It’s a stupid fee and we try not to do stupid things!

Another way we differ from our competitor is that we don’t have Data Service Provider fees. Let’s face it, many small companies (and large companies too) provide data and reports to their customers and vendors for further analysis and research. As a DSP, you will pay significantly more for your SAS license than what is listed. Expect to pay at least 30% more and often times, a lot more.

If you’re a startup, the message is clear. You probably don’t have a lot of money to toss around and cash flow is an issue. MineQuest has partnered with Balboa Capital to help company’s manage their licensing costs. By working with Balboa Capital, you can manage your license costs by paying a monthly amount of money towards your license. You will have to take out a two year WPS license to qualify for the program, but it’s an easy and efficient way to manage your resources.

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.

Complexity and Cost

This past weekend, my wife and I went to a lovely wedding. This was a Catholic wedding that was amazingly short but the priest had a very interesting sermon on complexity and cost. He talked about complexity in our lives and the cost both direct and indirect that we each experience. One example that he gave was smart phones and how expensive they are in terms of outright cost of service as well as the indirect cost, that being how much time we take playing and looking at the gadgets at the expense of others and relationships around us.

Hi sermon got me thinking. This is true for software and business intelligence in particular. The cost of non-open source software can be pretty high. And the reason for that? Support cost, sales cost, maintenance cost, legal costs, etc…

I often see how companies have purposely fragmented their products so that they can charge more for additional libraries modules. This has increased cost tremendously for the consumer. Our competitor is a prime example of this. They send out a local or regional sales person to chat up the prospect. Often, they can’t answer the questions the customer has because of the complexity of the product. So they send out a Sales Engineer or two who visits the prospect to answer these questions and chat them up a second time. Now we have three people in the mix who are making a 100 grand a year (at least) involved in the sale. The price of the software product has to increase to the customer because of all the people involved in the sale.

Here’s another example of added complexity. Different pricing for the same product depending on how you use it. Take companies that are B2B in nature. Firms such as actuarial firms, claims processing, advertising etc… are often labeled as data service providers because they want to use the software in a B2B capacity. Sometimes this is as innocuous as being a Contract Research Organization providing statistical analysis. The cost here comes from a different license (think lawyers), people to audit the customer and employees to enforce the license. It all adds up!

That above examples illustrate everything that is wrong with traditional ways of thinking in terms of software. At MineQuest Business Analytics, we’re proud that we are able to help keep cost down for the customer. We don’t have such draconian licensing for companies that are DSP’s. We don’t have an organization that is setup to milk and churn the customer for every last cent. What we do have is a company that is dedicated to providing the best service and software at an affordable price.

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.

Being Small Business Friendly

We recently put together a WPS vs. SAS Server Cost Comparison. Interestingly, this is one of the most downloaded documents from the MineQuest website. For the first time, smaller companies can afford to run the language of SAS on a server at reasonable prices.

Many companies however don’t have the resources, either financial or technologically to implement a server solution for their organization. And that’s OK too. Using WPS on a desktop is a great way to utilize a WPS license at a reasonable cost. So today, I want to talk about WPS on a desktop and how a smaller organization or department can implement WPS in a cost effective manner.

Being Small Business Friendly

I like to think that we are very Small Business Friendly in terms of our pricing structures. We don’t have high upfront charges to start using the product. We feel this is nothing more than a lock-in strategy and punishes start-ups and small businesses and would result in organizations shying away from using WPS.

Being small Business Friendly goes beyond just pricing. If you run an analytics consulting company and primarily find yourself involved in the B2B sector (and who isn’t?) you may be a Data Service Provider as defined by our competitor. The whole concept of being a DSP is just a ruse to extract more money out your organization.

Your customers and partners are yours. We don’t jump in and demand names of companies that you are doing business with and up-charge you for the use of the software to deliver reports and data sets created with our software. We don’t force you to sign a license agreement that demands if an existing customer drops a license that you are responsible for making up the difference. And, we don’t force you to make quarterly reports of who your customers are so that we can them market to them.

So in the spirit of good competition, I’ve put together a short pricing comparison of WPS on a desktop vs. SAS on a desktop. I used the Analytics Pro pricing from SAS because that seems to be the biggest bang for the buck in terms of pricing. I also added in two access engines to the mix. Most users would want to be able to read and write to Excel and Access as well as say SPSS. Of course, these are included in WPS but are an additional cost from our competitor.

I also included pricing from the GSA schedule. The GSA (Government Services Administration) is an organization that exists to get best pricing. According to the GSA, best pricing is at least 16% below the commercial pricing. So I thought it would be interesting to include those figures too. I know a lot of state and federal agencies read this blog so it’s informative for them to see how much money they can save if they decide to swap out SAS for WPS.

Table 1. Single License – First Year License Fee Comparison of WPS vs. SAS on a Desktop.

Desktop Product WPS SAS SAS Govt (GSA)
Analytics Pro $1,266 $8,700 $6,870
PC File Formats Included $3,000 $2,176
ODBC/OLE DB Included $3,000 $2,176
Total

$1,266

$14,700

$10,739

 

Table 2. Five User License: First Year License Fee Comparison of WPS vs. SAS on a Desktop.

Desktop Product WPS SAS SAS Govt (GSA)
Analytics Pro $6,330 $34,800 $24,468
PC File Formats Included $6,600 $4,463
ODBC/OleDB Included $6,600 $4,463
Total $6,330 $48,000 $33,394

By the way, all the prices above are readily available on the Internet. The prices shown were prices listed on March 4, 2013.

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.

2013 WPS and SAS Server Pricing Comparison

It’s that time of the year again. We’ve updated our ever popular WPS vs. SAS Pricing Comparison document for 2013. As in previous years, we pulled data for SAS pricing from the GSA schedule. As most of you who have read previous years pricing comparisons, WPS continues to stay significantly less expensive than our competitor.

The pricing differential for even our most entry level server product in contrast with our competitor is stunning. For example, with the money you can save in the very first year in licensing WPS over SAS on just a two core server, you could:

  • Buy 5 Kia Souls.
  • Pay for food for a family of four for 7.5 years.
  • Will buy four years of in-state tuition and room and board at Ohio State University.
  • Buys 27 years worth of gasoline for the average U.S family.
  • You could add an employee to your company.
  • Buys 24 months of a high end vacation rental home that has a Jacuzzi and lap pool.

OK, you get the point! Click the following link for the updated “Pricing Comparison Document” in PDF format.

Note: We no longer provide the pricing comparison document due to the time and complexity of pulling our competitors pricing data.

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.

What are the benefits when buying from MineQuest?

I’m often asked what are the benefits of buying a WPS license from MineQuest Business Analytics?

There are many, but I will touch on three of them in this post. First, when you purchase your server licenses from MineQuest, we provide a means of protecting your license investment. If you find that you need to scale up your server from say four to eight cores in the middle of your license period, we can upgrade your license so that you don’t lose money in the transition. We do require that you stay on the same operating system, but other than that, you get full credit for the time remaining on your license when you trade up.

The second benefit is that you automatically get a copy of the Bridge to R. The Bridge to R allows you to interface WPS into the R system for running more advanced statistical routines and enhanced graphics.

Third, we offer a first line of support for our customers. We have a few years of WPS experience under our belt and have developed products based on WPS. We know the product relatively well and we provide consulting services to companies needing it. We can implement WPS Link (i.e. submit programs from a desktop to a WPS Server) for customers who want a client server environment on any x86 architecture and help with installation and product overviews to users.

 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.

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.

Services for WPS Conversions and Evaluations

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed and re-jiggered the services that we offer and the ones we do offer need a bit of a makeover. Although our existing services are still pretty pertinent, we are looking at expanding and rounding out our consulting services in the area of SAS to WPS conversions. In the next few weeks we’ll be modifying our website to reflect these changes as well as creating some marketing brochures that can be downloaded and shared.

Many organizations are looking to significantly reduce software cost over the next two to three years. They don’t want to necessarily change their current architecture and most want to continue using existing source code whenever and wherever possible. Based on those premises, we’ll soon be putting together a services portfolio that encompasses the following practices.

Work with IT or an organizations Analytics Departments in providing a WPS Proof of Concept.

  1. Evaluate Price/Performance
  2. Define the requirements for an analytical and/or reporting replacement.

Assist in the evaluation of WPS Software as a replacement to existing SAS products.

Perform detailed Code Evaluation on existing SAS user and production SAS code libraries to evaluate compatibility with WPS and provide or recommend workarounds as necessary.

Recommend hardware and specific configurations for a WPS Server Installation.

Provide SMP libraries for Symmetrical Multi-Processor Hardware.

Install and test The Bridge to R.

Provide guidance to companies who are Data Service Providers on how best to reduce their exposure to SAS DSP fees.

Provide Consulting to departments and users who are focused on particular projects, i.e.

  1. For re-architecting their systems.
  2. For jump start/quick start scenarios.

Although these last two may seem a little “out there” for many people, you would be surprised to find out how common it is that a company acquires another organization and inherits a system that requires immediate attention in terms of licensing, cost reduction or consulting assistance to move the system to a new platform. It’s also not a rare situation where a company needs to immediately move their source code off of SAS due to DSP issues, escalating server costs or license problems. In these situations, MineQuest and World Programming can be of immense help.

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.

A Cleaner and More Efficient Web Site

After working for at least a week on revamping the MineQuest website, we can finally take a nice long breath. I’ve wanted to change the look of the site as well as reorganize the the structure to make things easier to find and more efficient.

The website revolves around three areas that we are engaged in. First, is consulting and contract programming for WPS and SAS. The second area that we are featuring is WPS by World Programming. WPS is the SAS language alternative that runs SAS code on Windows, Linux, AIX, Solaris and Macintosh platforms. The third area that the website focuses on is the Bridge to R. The Bridge to R is our own product that allows WPS users to execute R from inside WPS.

When recreating the website, one thing we did was create two columns for most of the web pages. The column on the left contains information on how to quickly find information that we’ve identified through our weblogs that users are most likely looking for on those topics. The text on the right hand side offers information on the current page for the topic you requested.

We’ve also included pricing for WPS on the Windows Desktop and Server platforms that you can download in PDF format. Pricing for other platforms that we resell, such as Linux, Solaris, AIX and Macintosh are available if you contact us and request a quote. We hope to roll out more pricing on the website in the near future.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to flush out the rest of the website, tweak it where it needs tweaking and add back in more downloads. The downloads that have been referenced in prior blog postings are still available so you can continue to download them but we’ve not yet had time to categorize and post them on the new site yet.

Regarding the downloads section, there were a number of macros and such that are no longer necessary and will be deprecated. The newer versions of WPS has many of these functions built-in and make these tools obsolete.

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.