Tag Archives: Windows Server

CleanWork for Windows

Recently, we decided to go back through some of our older programs and take a look at them and see if they could be updated and/or made open source. We wrote Cleanwork years ago and we often provided it to organizations that used our consulting services as a freebie and a way to say “Thank You.”

CleanWork does pretty much what the name says. It is a WPS program that when run, will clean out the work folders of old and orphaned directories that are no longer used. WPS comes with a cleanwork program for Linux and Mac but not for Windows. The version written by MineQuest will run on Windows Workstations running Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. It will also run on Windows Servers such as Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2. Basically, it will run on all Windows Servers except 2003 and before. It also runs on all Windows Workstations except XP and before.

Cleanwork is packaged in a zip file that contains the source code, the Usage Document, License and a sample program. Cleanwork has been tested to execute only on the WPS platform.

If you are running WPS on a Windows Server you may want to set cleanwork to run on a schedule. This is a perfect utility to automate and run on a regular schedule. For busy server installations, I could see setting a scheduler to run cleanwork every few hours.

The zip file contains five files. These are:

clean.sas – a sample program for running the cleanwork utility.

cleanwork_source.sas – the actual source code that implements the utility.

CleanWorkUsage.docx – a Microsoft Word document that explain how to use cleanwork.

SASMACR.wpccat – a compiled version of the macro that  is ready to run.

license.txt – The license agreement for use of the source code and user document.

You can find the download by going to the bottom of the page here.

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.




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.

Designing a Performance SAS/WPS Server – Part 3

In a previous blog post, I wrote about server hardware, specifically in regards to disk storage. I then wrote briefly about RAM and how it plays into the equation, and today, tax day here in the states, I want to talk about CPU’s and Logical CPU’s (LCPU’s).

A lot of server software is based on the number of processors (either cores or logical CPU’s) in how it is priced. It seems that each vendor has a different perspective on how they should charge. This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak and it seems that the price you pay for the software is solely predicated on the number of cores in that server and nothing else for a lot of vendors.

From my research and experiences, Microsoft charges based on the number of sockets that you have a processor installed in. They don’t charge by the core or logical CPU. This holds true for SQL Server and their BI stack.

From discussions with clients, (I can’t verify the authenticity of this), it seems that SPSS charges by the core count and not by logical cores. I need to get more information on how SPSS is licensed before I can say with any certainty if this is true. Perhaps an SPSS Sales Rep will comment?

SAS and WPS charge by Logical CPU’s for their server software. This can pretty expensive if you don’t watch out and shop for the server that you need. One difference between WPS and SAS is that SAS charges you for all the LCPU’s on the machine whether you use them or not. In other words, if you have 16 LCPU’s and have a SAS virtual machine that only uses eight of them, you still pay SAS for all the LCPU’s. So SAS is priced for the entire server. WPS only charges for the LCPU’s that the VM uses. So, you could only pay for eight LCPU’s on a 16 core Windows Server.

When I spec out a server, I always take into consideration the cost of the software before the cost of the hardware. Disk I/O is probably more important to quality SAS and WPS processing than the number of LCPU’s. After numerous discussions with other consultants (and this is my own observation as well) we’ve determined that the number of simultaneous users on a Windows Server running SAS or WPS is 2*LCPU’s. That is, two users for every logical CPU. Anything more than that, and processing become too slow for my comfort.

In benchmarks that I did earlier using the Open Source Software R, I could easily get six R sessions running simultaneously. As the CPU”s tended towards 100% utilization (on a four LCPU processor), the number of R sessions that I could run became more difficult. Only a few times was I able to get eight sessions running on my Quad-Core Server.

Here’s one dirty little secret that isn’t talked about very often. A logical CPU (i.e. a thread) is not as efficient in processing data as a single dedicated core. I can only speak to Intel’s HyperThreading technology but if you Google "HyperThreading performance" you will see that gains due to threading are in the 20 to 40% range. That’s not a lot of gain when you’re being charged the same as if it was a full blown core. So, if you have a Quad-core processor with HyperThreading, such as the newer Intel Nehalem processors (Core i7), there are eight LCPU’s that you pay for but only get the performance of perhaps five non-threaded CPU’s.

Here’s another thing to consider. Does the BI software you plan on using make use of multiple LCPU’s? SAS does for some of their PROCS but your mileage may vary in how efficient it is. I can easily out run SAS’s PROC SORT which is thread enabled with WPS which is not.

So what’s the bottom line on specing out a server and LCPU’s?

1. Take an inventory of your needs for the next three years and base your decisions on that. If you are going to have less than five simultaneous users, go with a fast dual-core CPU. If your needs are less than eight simultaneous users, then go with a non-threaded Quad-Core CPU.

2. Don’t buy a server with the idea that you are going to grow into it. You will overpay for a lot of BI software if that is the position you take.

3. If you already have a server that you want to use and it has eight or more LCPU’s, than do your math with WPS and SAS and consider how you can use a VM to reduce your license cost.

4. Remember, only pay for the capacity that your really need. After all, it is tax day and who wants to over pay on the CPU tax?


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