Tag Archives: Vertical Market Applications

Why WPS v3.3 is important

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the new release of WPS v3.3. Quite a few people and companies have been waiting for this release and I want to talk about why this is such an historic release. I also want to write about what this release means to data scientists.

First, this release is truly a blockbuster. With the Interop for R and Python modules, this is the first time as far as I am aware, where a software product allows a developer to easily use the Language of SAS, R and Python to implement a program, project or product – all in one development environment. As data science has evolved, R and Python have become more popular but BOTH lack the data management capabilities of WPS. With WPS, you not only get the language of SAS to process your data, but you also get a multitude of database engines to read\write and access data in the most popular databases.

The beauty of such integration is ease of development. If you have been a developer for as long as I have, you know the time demands of learning a new development environment. Now, with WPS v3.3 a developer can stay within a single development environment for all of their analytical development needs. The developer doesn’t have to learn an R IDE to write, test and execute R code. The same can be said for Python. The Python interface with WPS means having development control as well as execution control of python programs or similarly R programs.

Organizations want to take advantage of R and Python integration because it allows them to create and expand programs and projects. It will quickly become apparent for third-party developers, i.e. those who want to create vertical market applications that these two additional languages radically increase their tool sets going forward. For many, it also means running production jobs that are self-contained, meaning control and execution is controlled by WPS and not a bunch of separate tasks or processes having to be handled individually.

I have been fortunate to have had access to Alpha and Beta builds of WPS for v3.3 and was totally blown away by the improvements and additions that I saw. For example:

  • The data step is faster.
  • Inclusion of the Python programming language.
  • Implementation of Proc IML.
  • Faster data engine access for many databases including multi-threaded loading.
  • More complete graphics output in statistical procedures.
  • PDF support

But what makes this one of the most compelling releases is the integration of R and Python. With Python specifically, one now has access to executing Machine Learning code from WPS. I’m sure many of you who read this blog are involved in credit scoring, fraud detection, anti-money laundering, market basket analysis, loyalty programs and other real-time analytics. With Python and OpenGL and the CUDA libraries, one can now perform incredibly high speed processing of data on your desktop/server GPU.

When looking at the breadth of the WPS offering, it’s amazing how much is included for the data scientist who needs to work in multiple languages supporting data analytics. With all the database engines (including Hadoop), WPS Graphics, IML, R, Python, WPS Statistics, and WPS Time Series, I almost faint thinking what the cost would be for something similar from our competitor SAS Institute.

The other aspect of WPS v3.3 that is so enticing is the licensing. There are two components to this that deserve discussion. The first, is that Data Service Providers (DSP’s) can make use of this software to develop and provide statistical and mathematical models for third parties. Let’s face it, many if not most organizations lack the expertise to develop these models for companies.

The second component is the creation of Vertical Market Applications using the WPS software. The absolute reasonable cost of the software is a driving factor in being able to create and resell your VMA at a price that small, mid-size and large companies can all afford. Using WPS as the basis for your VMA is advantageous because you’re not beholden to some other organization requiring you to pay partnership fees for access to the software and marketing. I think you would be shocked to learn about how competitive and perhaps ruthless a software vendor can be when it comes to introducing and pricing a competing VMA.

If you want to learn more about the latest release of WPS v3.3, especially as it pertains to workstations, read the previous blog post and download the latest brochure for v3.3. You can request an evaluation of WPS v3.3 by contacting info@minequest.com or filling out our evaluation or quote request form here.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and wishing everyone a Happy New Year.


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.

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.

Interested in Vertical Market Applications?

I receive calls on an irregular basis from developers and entrepreneurs thinking about using WPS as a basis for a vertical market application in the BI space. WPS has a lot to offer those who are considering such a move. Here are three reasons that make using WPS a leading contender for which to base your vertical market application.

1. Lower license cost for pricing your application. There’s a higher potential profit margin using WPS because the cost of a software license is so reasonable.

2. All modules are inclusive in the price. No confusing or frustrating sessions trying to figure out if you or your customer has the correct modules for implementation.

3. Ease of implementation and installation. Installing WPS is a breeze compared to our competitors installation routines.

So if you are thinking about creating and developing a vertical market application with WPS and want some additional information, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to provide some suggestions and ideas on how you can move forward using WPS.

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.

Creating Vertical Market Apps – Part II

In my previous blog post (click here to read) I discussed a little history as well as opinion on the pitfalls of creating a Vertical Market Application (VMA) using the SAS System. In this post, I want to discuss some alternatives that you might want to consider to either (1) port your application to WPS or (2) create from scratch your VMA to run under WPS.

To me, the major drawback to using SAS to create a VMA is cost and license complexity. You constantly have to worry about which SAS products you need to have in your portfolio. If you want to create graphics in your VMA, you need SAS\Graph, if you want to be able to connect to a myriad of database engines, you need to be have numerous SAS\Access engines included in your product, etc…

With WPS, that is taken care of for you. The price of the product is all inclusive and you don’t have to worry about which access engines you need to include because they’re already there! A lot of pain and paperwork is eliminated by taking the WPS Bundle approach.

Another pro to using WPS is the low cost of the product. Especially when compared to SAS. If you’re developing an application that is server based, the difference in pricing of WPS and SAS, your cost, the customers cost, and inevitably your profits are tremendous. Take a look at our WPS vs SAS cost comparison that we did back in October to get some real world numbers. A quick note here, this cost comparison is the most popularly viewed and downloaded file on our website. I think that says something!

So we’ve talked about the advantage of WPS pricing, let us take a look at licensing. As a developer, you are encouraged to create products that run WPS Software.

You may use the WPS SOFTWARE for the processing of third party data, programs and applications and for the creation of products that RUN on WPS SOFTWARE. You may process data produced or consumed by WPS SOFTWARE on other platforms.

What you are not allowed to do with WPS is sell time to other parties (people outside of your company) to use the software on your network or on a public network. Here’s a passage from the WP license agreement.

If you license the WPS SOFTWARE for server usage you are permitted to RUN the WPS SOFTWARE for both attended and unattended operation. Remote user sessions connected to the same server via a private network controlled by you may also RUN the WPS SOFTWARE on the same server without additional WPS SOFTWARE licenses. Concurrent usage by two or more users of the WPS software is permitted. Third party users are excluded from the right to access WPS SOFTWARE on the server unless the third party holds an appropriate WPS SOFTWARE license.

I want to point out that you don’t have to be a member of some "Partner Program" that costs $10K and up per year to develop a VMA with WPS. Funny, I’m writing this and looking at the SAS Partner Program web page and they have seven different categories and three levels of participation for their Partner Program. And yet, they only have three 3rd party VMA’s that I can find. And even given that, they don’t list or promote these other VMA’s. Sheesh!

Another advantage to using WPS to develop your VMA’s is that you can run your application on all the platforms that WPS supports. Currently, WPS runs on Windows Desktops and Servers, Linux x86, Mac OS X on x86, SUN Solaris for Sparc, SUN Solaris x86, IBM’s AIX on pSeries, z/OS on System z, and Linux on System z. That’s a sufficiently large number of platforms to support development and sales of your application in virtually any corporate environment.


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.

Creating Vertical Market Apps – WPS or SAS?

This blog post is going to be in a couple of parts due to the nature and complexity of the subject, and how I want to cover a little history (as well as offer s some personal opinion) for users creating Vertical Market Apps (VMA).

Have you ever wondered why there are so few vertical market applications for resale written in SAS by third party vendors? I have wondered about that and have some thoughts to offer on that matter too. But first, what are the 3rd party apps that are available? I can only think of a few, and they are: MXG, CA’s MICS, Futrix and you can probably throw in Link King but it’s not being offered for sale, but is provided at no cost. Even though Link King is offered freely, its quality is pretty decent and could easily be offered for resale or even provided using SaaS (Software as a Service).

I think there are numerous reasons why there’s so few VMA’s written in SAS. First, the cost factor of relicensing SAS is prohibitive, complex and confusing. Will SAS allow you to relicense it’s products if you create one that competes on some level with a VMA they currently have?

The second issue that arises, and more importantly, is that it comes down to who owns the customer. Does SAS own YOUR customer because you’ve decided to create a SAS based VMA or do you own the customer?

From personal experience from when we were a SAS Quality Partner years ago, if you develop an application that competes on any level with something SAS has or is interested in moving into, you can expect to get the run around on license issues and never get a clear answer. Unless you know what your costs are going to be, it’s impossible to create a pricing strategy and know how much development effort will have to be put into the product.

In our case, we were looking at creating (#1) a standardized test tracking system that would allow school districts to track a student’s progress over years and (#2) even assign students to class rooms based on likelihood of passing state mandated tests so schools would less likely be labeled deficient or as a failure. We had a working prototype and when we approached SAS on licensing issues, we were given the run around and even refused to sign an NDA, though they were very keen on seeing what we had.

Let’s take a hypothetical example. If you are a financial services company that offers risk products such as credit scoring, fraud detection, portfolio evaluation; i.e. companies like Fitch, Moody’s, S&P, Fair Isaac, etc… will SAS prevent you from reselling your software products if written using the SAS System because that’s an obvious market they want to be a player in?

The question in my opinion, is how abusive is SAS when it comes to third parties wanting to develop VMA’s using the SAS System? If they’re not technically a monopoly, are they acting as one when it comes to this kind of behavior? Does SAS have API’s that are only known to their development staff that are not available to others who are looking to develop VMA’s? Is there a good reason why the SAS data set layout is proprietary in nature and not open for use without having to have the SAS System on your hardware?

These are all questions and issues you need to think about before spending lots of money and time when getting in bed with a large company. I think for a company that has been in business for 35+ years and has only three or four 3rd party VMA’s is a telling story about how difficult it is to work with them in creating applications for resale.

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.