“The cloud movement” is here to stay. So yes, it makes perfect sense for SAS to launch the new version of its Viya data intelligence platform as a cloud-native one. No big deal, you think? Well, think again. Viya 4 – also know as Viya 2020.1 – offers a full cloud-native and optimized approach in terms of integration, delivery and pricing. A radically different approach compared to what we were used from SAS.
For SAS, Viya 4 is the company’s first fully cloud-native platform. This is nothing less than a revolution in the approach of the product. Becoming cloud-native meant a number of drastic changes in four domains: scalability, portability, velocity and CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery).
The 4 biggest changes in SAS Viya 4
When using the cloud native version of SAS Viya 4 scaling is easier than ever. Whether it is scaling up for speed, capacity or security there is no need to change anything in the architecture of your current installation of SAS Viya 4., as you can expand capacity faster using the power and facility of your cloud platform. A simple request for up- or downscaling is enough to match the need of the current system.
SAS offers cross-platform server technology. Viya 4 has the same objective as cross-cloud platform technology. SAS Viya 4 relies on Kubernetes, which enhances the portability of the general product from one cloud to another. Kubernetes adds an abstraction layer – a Kubernetes container – on top of the proprietary (Amazon, Google, Azure, … ) cloud structure. As a result, SAS runs in the container unaware of the actual cloud platform the container runs on.
Compared to the older versions, solution configuration and deployment on Viya 4 can be done really quickly and easily. Viya 4 integrates fully cloud-optimized configuration and deployment capabilities. Deploying a new instance or a new bundle can be done in just a couple of clicks, straight from the SAS console. Moreover, SAS also provides a complete out-of-the-box solution on Azure that can be tuned for specific requirements.
Viya 4 is the first ever version of a SAS product that is delivered using the CI/CD process. As a result, it will provide frequent and automatic updates, upgrades and bug fixes. The new versions will follow a naming convention based on the year, month and type of release.
Viya 4.0: advantages for all
For the IT team: cloud infrastructure integration
For the developer and system administrator, a major benefit of SAS Viya 4 is it can be deployed on any cloud platform, thanks to the use of Kubernetes. As a direct result of the new partnership between SAS and Microsoft, Viya 4 is also available as an out-of-the-box cloud solution hosted on Microsoft Azure. The partnership between SAS and Microsoft will offer the IT team more possibilities to find synergies between both providers.
And there’s more. As a cloud-native solution, SAS Viya 4 enables the use of cloud features, instead of being limited to its own features. For example, when you already run an authentication system on a cloud service, there is no more need to use the SAS Logon for SAS Viya 4. The use of cloud features will simplify the role of the system administrator.
For the business user: a new look on Business Intelligence (BI)
Viya 4 reflects SAS’ strategic vision on BI. Lots of tools are available at the moment, and a structured development plan is in place to regulary add new and more powerful tools.
For the CMO, for example, it will be easier to integrate all relevant customer data, resulting in an more complete customer view, especially as SAS offers close integration with other cloud data such as Google Analytics and plans on strengthening its integration with Microsoft CRM Dynamics.
For the expert and advanced user: a modern application approach
With SAS Viya 4, it becomes really easy to use SAS insights in other applications. More than its previous versions, Viya 4 is open to the outside world. Among other things, Viya 4 allows the easy integration of calculated measures and other numbers in other applications. The API has been announced but is still in development. It will allow developers on other platforms to use the new API to integrate numbers and statistics calculated in SAS within their own applications.
For the CFO: quicker data integration and new pricing
For the CFO, SAS Viya 4 offers a quick return on investment. Thanks to integration with other systems, advanced analytics and shorter process times, it makes financial reporting easier and acquiring data faster. CFOs use the data cloud platform to make correct informed decisions. Of course these can only be made on recent, well structured data. SAS Viya 4 brings all of this with its clear reports and strong analytics and forecasting tools.
Also, with the new version of Viya 4 comes a new pricing philosophy. SAS decided to group different modules into bundles. Pricing is now based on the number and type of users for a specific bundle, resulting in a transparent and predictable pricing model.
The different pricing models of SAS Viya 4. © SAS.
The different SAS Viya 4 offerings, enabling the complete analytics journey. © SAS.
And more to come…
SAS Viya 4 marks a clear change of approach and philosophy throughout the entire SAS vision. The greater ease of integration, the new delivery system and the new pricing method take the spotlight of this new release.
At the same time, there’s still a lot more to come. Although SAS is positioning Viya 4 as a true cloud-native solution, not all the work has been done already. Viya 4 comes with a lot of new tools, but not all of them already have all the capabilities the older, non cloud-native versions had. It means that, although Viya 4 offers a strong analytical platform, you may still need some of the standard SAS software for specific functionalities – and the traditional platform management duties that come with that.
SAS plans to include more of its solutions on the Viya platform. We, at LACO, are very excited about the new possibilities that will arise. But we also realize that SAS still has a lot of ground to cover – which will need some time to complete. Meanwhile, we are working on the first Viya 4 implementation for one of our customers. Make sure to follow our blog as we will share our experience throughout the project.
Bringing SAS Viya 4 to your organization? We’re happy to think along!
Junior SAS Developer at LACO
Bart Van Win
Senior DI Consultant / Data Visualization Expert at LACO
SAS BI Expert at LACO