Tag Archives: Small Business

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.

Cool and Useful Software

I always enjoy reading other folks blogs on how they work and the tools they use most every day. It’s a great way to learn about new tools and how to work more efficiently. I have to rave about the phone system we use here at MineQuest. We use VOIP and our provider is VOIPO out of Texas. The quality is tremendous as well as the support. The cost is amazing for what you get. The benefits of VOIPO are numerous for a small business, but the one I like the most is a softphone. I can travel and still be able to use my phone system almost as well as if I was in the office. You can visit the VOIPO web site to get pricing and view all the features that they offer.

Of course I use Skype. I can use Skype to call overseas and to text message with friends, family and business contacts. I have contacts that are almost always on Skype and the number of Skype contacts that I have just continues to grow. If you want or need to do business overseas, then Skype maybe the only way you can do so cost effectively. I hope to see more integration of Skype into other products and services and the availability of an easier to use API. If you don’t have at least a free Skype account, you should visit the Skype website and get Skype today.

I recently started to use a new Linux distribution called ZorinOS. I have version 6.1 and essentially, ZorinOS is Ubuntu Linux with the coolest GUI interface. With ZorinOS, you can change the interface to mimic Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X and the Ubuntu Unity Interface. If you are a Windows User and want to start using Linux with minimum fuss and frustration, ZorinOS is something to try. Check out the ZorinOS website to learn more.

I also signed up for Microsoft’s Office 365. There are a number of plans available and you can see all of them at the Microsoft web site. But if you have multiple machines like I do, desktop, laptop and a Mac, Office 365 gives you five simultaneous installs for $100. This is an annual license and I love that I get Outlook on all my desktop machines. I love the simplicity and the fact that I get cloud storage to store my documents so I can access them from anywhere.

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.

Small and Mid-Size Business and Analytics

In the BI world, we often see discussions around BIG DATA and gigantic servers running on a grid to process a vast amount of data. For many people and companies, BIG DATA is hyperbole and is synonymous with BIG BUBBLE. BIG DATA is a marketing term and you see a lot of companies chasing the same (limited number) customers hoping to make a BIG SALE.

For many small and mid-size businesses we at MineQuest see four and eight core servers as being the server choice du jure. A company can process a lot of data on servers of such size. The cost for these sized servers are pretty decently priced as well.

At MineQuest Business Analytics, we see growth in WPS acceptance in a few areas that we find exciting. Recently, World Programming joined the CDISC Foundation as a member. I suspect that we will eventually begin to see CDISC support in WPS and extrapolating based on such membership. FYI, WPS already provides the ability to write out data to XPORT and CPORT data files. This will be advantageous to many CRO’s out there who are paying high fees for SAS licenses. This will begin to level the playing field in the Pharma industry as it pertains to pricing and access of SAS language software usage.

In the marketing arena, there is a significant uptake in WPS, especially on larger servers. Marketing agencies are becoming production houses as it pertains to marketing analytics and digital media. Many of these organizations are also providing background services for loyalty card usage. WPS is a good candidate for use in these companies because there are no client fees to connect to the server and most importantly, no data service provider fees for processing data on behalf of a third party.

In the health care industry there is a lot of growth and opportunity for WPS. I personally feel that the health care segments (both claims processing and healthcare analytics) are probably the most likely ones for tremendous growth. We’ve had great success in putting WPS into companies like HP-EDS for processing of health care information.

 

 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.

Taking WPS 3.01 for a Quick Spin

I’m writing this today from the testing facilities at MineQuest Business Analytics, the center of the BI Universe. Haha! I’ve always wanted to write that as an opening line.

Anyway, I finally installed the latest GA release of WPS v3.01 on all the machines here. It took me a little while to setup all the configuration files so that WPS will use the optimal disk array for work among other things. Just thinking about this, it’s probably the first time I’ve ever had the exact same release on all the desktops and servers.

I wanted to test out the WPS Link technology more thoroughly. For those folks who are unfamiliar with WPS Link, it allows your workstation version of WPS to link to a Linux server for the purposes of submitting WPS code. So, basically you need WPS on both the desktop and on the Linux server. I have WPS on a Mac, a desktop, laptop and a VM running XP. My desktop host is running Vista x64.

One thing that I do like when I’m on the Mac is that the fonts just seem nicer than on Windows. It’s just a bit more aesthetically pleasing to me. The Eclipse Workbench is available across all the platforms except for z/OS as far as I can tell. On Linux, the fonts are similar to the Mac in style but seem a bit heavier. I imagine a lot of that has to do with the platform and font support from Apple on OS X versus the Linux Open Source Community.

Interestingly, I can submit my code on to the Linux Server from all these clients and it works amazingly well. The server is a small box with four cores and only 8GB of RAM but lots of disk space. I ended up setting some options such as setting MAXMEM and SORTSIZE to a reasonable level so that everyone will play well together. Small jobs are almost instant. I’ll start testing with some large jobs next week.

I’ve stated before that sizing a server for a workgroup isn’t always easy. But with 16GB of RAM and four cores of compute power, you can run four to eight simultaneous users quite readily. When you think about the compute power you get with WPS on a server, factoring in the price versus our competition, it’s just so small business friendly and startup friendly.

Don’t forget there’s still time to get into the action to win a Google Nexus 7 Tablet. If you register to take out a WPS evaluation before September 30th, 2012, you will automatically be registered in the drawing for the tablet. Certain conditions apply so read the the earlier blog post for all the details. You can request a WPS evaluation by going to the MineQuest Business Analytics website at the WPS evaluation page.

WPS, MineQuest and the SMB Market and Market Needs

I had a recent discussion with some folks regarding the state of analytics and the cost of SAS products. Specifically, we discussed what the issues are surrounding the adoption and use of these products and what is most important to these companies. At the end of the conversation, we were shocked to think about how hostile our competitor is to small and mid-size businesses. Below are some of the findings and opinion from our conversation.

Cash Flow – With WPS you don’t pay a hefty upfront fee to start using the software like you do with the SAS System. WPS adoption is small business (and start-up) friendly by allowing you to preserve your cash flow for things like payroll and health insurance.

Database Access Engines – WPS offers more than a dozen database access engines as part of its base package. You don’t have to pay loads of money to access your data because it’s sitting in a database of your choosing. WPS Access Engines in the latest release include:  DB2,  DB Files,  Greenplum,  Informix,  Kognitio,  MySQL,  Netezza,  ODBC,  OLEDB,  Oracle,  Sybase,  PostgreSQL, Teradata,  SAND DB,  Vertica. The advantage here is that if you are a consultancy or a B2B business, you can more easily replicate and test your code on different databases without incurring a huge overhead that you would with the SAS System.

Data Service Provider Fees – Short and sweet, we don’t have them. Our competitor will charge you DSP fees   (if not at the beginning, shortly thereafter) for using their system to provide data and reports to your own customers. See page 13 at the link above.  But wait, there’s more! You will be required to pay additional for each customer that you process data for using their licensed software — as much as 30% per customer more.  And it gets better! Soon after your defined as a DSP, you will be required to provide them with the names and contact information of your customers so that they can try to sell their software to them directly — cutting you out of the picture. But if that’s not bad enough, if your customer already has the SAS System, you may be responsible for covering the fees if your joint customer drops the software or one of the library modules.

Client Access Fees – Again, we don’t have them. Put WPS on a server and let your organization run wild using the software. You can have as many employees using the software on the server as your server can handle.

Create a Product or Service – With WPS, not only is your entry into creating the product less expensive (much less expensive!) but the cost to roll out your product or service to other organizations is significantly less as well.

Who owns the Customer – If you are a B2B business or create a product using the Language of SAS, it’s important to understand who “owns” the customer in regards to the use of the software. If you are creating a vertical market application (VMA) for a specific industry, will you be at the mercy of your software provider in playing fair? What does history show in that regards?

Are you going to be worrying about your software provider taking your solution or crafting a solution of their own and marketing it directly to your customers? Shouldn’t that be a concern for your small and mid-sized business?

Calculate your Cost – When evaluating a WPS vs. SAS Solution for your company or for a new product, calculate the cost of doing business over three years. That is the important metric. Ask your Sales Representative what the ball park figure will be for you. If they beat around the bush, you know the answer. Make sure to ask your Sales Representative to put in writing that you will not be accessed any DSP fees over the next three years.

Is the software upgradeable – If you are a small or mid-size business and start out using a desktop license or two for development, are those licenses upgradeable to a server license? Do the licenses scale properly and fairly and are they cost effective for your organization?

Analytics is a hot area right now and many organizations are anxious to exploit the data they have in-house. There are also lots of companies that see opportunities to sell their expertise and services to other companies and be able to maintain a reasonable cost structure without losing their IP to their software provider. So pay close attention to the details, ask lots of questions, and make good decisions.

WPS and the Small Business Market

One of the more popular markets for using WPS is for small businesses who need to maintain large amounts of data and process them in an efficient manner. Interestingly enough, small businesses often have to manage mountains of data just like large corporations do. One thing that separates small and large business users are the number of users that are hitting against the data. So the administrative tasks of being a DB Administrator are often similar, but the volume of users are quite different.

When you take out a WPS license, you receive multiple access engines to databases that companies like SAS Institute charge a heck of a lot for. Let’s face it, costs for small businesses are important and WPS is an ideal solution for the small and middle market business segment when it comes to saving money. Using WPS allows you to leverage the training and know how you have invested your time and money into as it pertains to the language of SAS. Using WPS allows you to use the tools that large organizations use too.

As companies have become more data centric, World Programming has stepped up to the plate and has dramatically increased performance on Linux x86 platforms. I have field tested WPS on Linux x86 as well as ported software from Windows over to it, and the performance is truly stellar. If you are one of those shops that do a lot of sorting of data, then WPS on Linux is for you.

There is one thing I want to point out if you are a small or midsized business and are starting to build out your BI stack. If you really needed some oomph for database processing and wanted to [1] use the language of SAS and [2] use a powerful and inexpensive database system, I would definitely go with a WPS solution and GreenPlum’s Free Edition. I’m amazed that GreenPlum can offer this to the community and the combination of WPS and GreenPlum, cost wise, cannot be beat.

All-in-all, there are a number of options for the SMB market out there, but there is only one cost effective solution when you want to use the language of SAS. MineQuest is targeting the SMB market over the next few years and I fully suspect that WPS will be the dominant player in this market segment as analytics become more important than ever.

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.