Installation and Upgrade Services

By Harrie Robins - Technical SAS Consultant

As technical consultant for OCS managed services my focus is mainly on performing technical installations of the SAS 9.4 and SAS Viya platforms. A technical installation can be one of the following scenarios:

  • a new SAS 9.4 installation 
  • a new SAS Viya installation 
  • an upgrade of an existing 9.4 installation to a newer SAS 9.4 version 
  • an upgrade and migration from a 9.4 platform to the SAS Viya platform.   

At OCS we work closely with a number of the municipalities (gemeenten). These government organizations have gained experience in the use of SAS and are now taking the next step – upgrading to the latest version of SAS 9.4 or starting the journey to the cloud with SAS Viya. I have gained invaluable experience during these projects.  

A Typical Deployment Process – Thorough Preparation is Vital! 

Typically, before a SAS deployment is started, OCS will deliver a so called ‘prerequisite document’ which lists all requirements. ICT experts will then prepare the machines, so that the technical installation can be completed by the OCS managed service consultant. 

In some cases, certain system requirements can lead to delays, as some of these requirements can conflict with security policies, which can lead to internal discussion about safety. This can be a real challenge, as users want to have a quick and flawless experience, whilst ICT departments need to keep their servers secure & safe. It is up to the SAS consultant to carefully explain the requirements and explain the risks involved. 

The thorough preparation of these servers can be key to a successful installation and therefore OCS work closely with the internal IT experts in this stage of an installation.   

A typical on-site SAS deployment is installed onto specially prepared Windows or Linux servers (technically speaking there is also support for operating systems like Solaris, HP-UX AIX). The preparation of the SAS server requires attention given that SAS has special requirements for user accounts, disk configuration, security and performance setting. Note: For some configurations multiple SAS servers can be used. For example with SAS 9.4 this could mean a central server which keeps track of the SAS system (metadata), compute servers which perform the data processing, and web servers which deliver web-clients for easy access (called middle-tier). SAS Viya uses a different approach, where in a typical deployment we see a central server, and so called ‘CAS nodes’ which take care of in memory data processing.  

The majority of clients have chosen to perform a so called ‘single server deployment’ – all involved tiers (meta, compute and web) to be installed onto a single server machine.  In addition to the server deployment, client applications are also installed on a user by user basis. This client software can either be deployed using so called ‘packages’ (performed by the ICT department) or by users themselves.  

Under optimal circumstances, a typical SAS deployment (technical installation of the server) will take 2-3 weeks. On some occasions however, there can be installation issues. In one case experienced, after a successful SAS Viya (windows) deployment, the SAS consultant and customer were faced with CPU usage spikes that could not be easily explained. An investigation was started, identifying a certain SAS component (SAS Viya is composed of so called ‘microservices) that caused these CPU spikes. This issue could not be resolved, and it was decided to open a SAS technical support ticket. Information about this issue was gathered and submitted to SAS, who then discovered a bug in one of these microservices. A direct fix was then supplied to the SAS consultant, and a general patch was issued for this SAS Viya version. 

After completing the technical deployment and solving possible deployment issues, the SAS system is tested by the SAS consultant (often a functional consultant), making sure all components function as expected. After this initial test, the system is released to the customer, who then performs their own functional acceptance tests. Only after this, when the customer is satisfied, server documentation is gathered and delivered, marking another successful deployment! 

How can we at OCS help? 

Do you need advice in upgrading your SAS platform, perhaps looking to move to SAS Viya? Then please contact Kenneth Blokland, Manager of OCS Managed Services. Kenneth will be pleased to discuss the options available.