SAS On-Demand Needs You to be Reasonable

Tried reading in a file with 360,000+ records times 279 variables with SAS On-Demand using SAS Enterprise Guide. It was on one of my office computers that has a pretty slow Internet connection. I was using a different computer at the time so I just let it run. After 29 minutes, I gave up, did it on SAS Enterprise Guide installed on a laptop and it was done in a minute or less.

Lesson learned: Don’t try running huge files on SAS On-Demand

The positive side is once I reduced that file to the subset of 8,000 records and 20 variables that I needed, everything ran perfectly on SAS On-Demand.

Really, that’s not unreasonable performance. If you are doing a project for a class, you probably are not going to have an enormous data set in either length or width. For anything of reasonable size – and 8,000 records is pretty good size for a class project – SAS On-Demand works pretty well.

However, I have never been accused of being a reasonable person and the first thing I think when I get any new piece of software is to try to break it. As my grandmother said, this is why you cannot have nice things.

I’m in North Carolina the next few days for a class on predictive modeling with SAS Enterprise Miner. I thought I would brush up on it a bit before class, so I tried to install it on boot camp on my Mac desktop.

First problem occurred when I tried to update Java on my desktop. Instead of updating the version of Java I had, somehow I ended up with two different versions of Java installed. When I tried to get SAS On-Demand with Enterprise Miner to work by clicking on the link from the SAS On-Demand page, nothing.

I thought perhaps I should not have two versions of Java, so I uninstalled the newer version I had just installed and tried again. This time I got a small file downloaded named MAIN. I was expecting that. I double-clicked on it a window popped up that said Java Web Start and said it was downloading and verifying the application Enterprise Miner 7.1

This went on for about 15 minutes and Enterprise Miner never started up. I cancelled it, deleted the other version of Java, and downloaded the very latest version and tried again. Same thing happened. Actually I did not expect the version of Java was the problem but I figured I may as well update to the latest shiny thing while I was at it.

I am pretty certain that the problem is the internet connection is pathetically slow. It seriously reminds me of the days when the only way I could get an internet connection in North Dakota was through dialing up (anyone remember dial-up?) on CompuServe or AOL. I’m not exaggerating.

So … I moved to a different spot in the hotel where (according to Windows 7) my connection strength is now “excellent”. ┬áBingo! Enterprise Miner.

It’s still kind of slow, but it is working.

I’ll be at a different hotel tomorrow (my life story) and try the connection there and again when I get back home. Microsoft and I have different ideas of the speed that should be identified as “excellent”. Apparently, Enterprise Miner agrees with me.

You might think this would deter me from using SAS On-Demand in my course. It may not, though. The course I am considering using it for is an on-line course and I would be doing the demos from my desktop that has an ethernet connection. I THINK the speed will be okay.

It may be a little slow when the students use it on their own home networks but they are getting a mega-expensive piece of software for free, so they need to be a little reasonable.

(I am a big hypocrite here because I have the patience of an infant.)

Really, though, when you finally get it working, SAS Enterprise Miner is pretty cool.

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  1. Hello,

    You don’t know me but I came across your website when I was doing ressearch on gaining access to SAS software. I graduated from graduate school many moons ago and SAS was non-existent, we used Minitab and excel. Nevertheless, years later I’m looking to broaden my analytical background with SAS and become certified. The most feasible option appears to be SAS OnDemand. I’m wondering if this is a good option for someone that does not plan to spend money on a class but buy a few books and practice. Your thoughts?

  2. There is nothing like actually using the software, so I think it would be a feasible option.

    You might also consider taking a class at a university that uses SAS on-demand. Then you would have a transcript documenting your knowledge. I know National University was going to offer statistics classes on-line using SAS and Dr. Tyler Smith runs that program so I am sure it will be good. You might want to check them out,too.

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