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SAS Visual Analytics: Frequently Asked Questions

04/07/2015 by Tricia Aanderud Modernization - Analytics

SAS Visual Analytics (SAS VA) puts a lot of questions into customers minds. SAS is excited about their product offering, and they should be it’s a fantastic tool that makes data visualization and data discovery easy. Here are the questions business users ask most frequently about SAS Visual Analytics.

What Kind of Reports Can I Make? How do I Share my Reports?

If you are using tools like Microsoft Office for your reporting, you quickly realize it’s not an excellent enterprise reporting solution. It creates many issues with maintaining the data, ensuring the integrity of the reports, and how hard it is to scale as the business grows.

It makes sense to use a tool that allows users to access the reports through an intranet site or even on a mobile device (think iPad) that is available at any time. Plus the reports are interactive, so the users can use filters to get more information and have more takeaways. You also have access to advanced analytics such as forecasting, social network analysis, and correlation matrixes.

SAS Visual Analytics has a built-in Web server, so all you have to do is install and then visit the URL. Here’s an example of the SAS Visual Analytics Hub landing page that all users can access after logging in.

sas visual analytics home page

Is the Mobile App Secure?

The mobile device management is built-in functionality. You can allow your business users to access the portal either within a VPN or with just a login. You can adjust the mobile security to ensure the safety of your data. The data is only shown on the device when the user is connected to your network.

There are several example reports available when you download the free SAS BI app from the iTunes store.  With a simple click, the user can learn more about the individual bubble and can even drill down to get more information. 

Here’s an example of the SAS BI mobile application.

sas visual analytics mobile app

After learning they can efficiently distribute reports internally, many users ask if they can share reports with their customers. What a great idea to distribute examples of a report with your customers!  Then the customers can also interact with reports you have created using custom data.

One marketing agency wanted its customers to see how their advertising dollars were being used. Using SAS Visual Analytics provided the agency project managers had more conversations with the customer about what was happening and how they knew it. It was more straightforward than the older method – which required using a ton of slide packages or multi-page Excel spreadsheets. With SAS Visual Analytics supports this functionality with a tiny bit of finagling and providing a login for the customer.

Can I Create a Public Portal?

You might want to make your data available to the public. The United Nations has such a public portal that you can visit. This site allows you to explore the data and notice you didn’t have to log in. You can also use this technique on your intranet where employees can access the reports and use the data discovery techniques without having a new login. This is a built-in functionality that Zencos can configure for you.

sas visual analytics public portal

How Do I Get the Data into SAS Visual Analytics?

Many customers are concerned that if they do not need an advanced setup, then SAS Visual Analytics is not required. A non-distributed version of SAS Visual Analytics can run on a single server. It supports as much as 350 GB of data based on a 32-Core machine. Best of all – most of your SAS datasets are immediately useable. Plus even data in spreadsheets or CSV format is used.

sas visual analytics data load

There are several ways to get data into SAS Visual Analytics: Data Builder, user interface, or Autoloader.

  • Data Builder
    This application is part of the tool. You can load data from a database (through a metadata connection) directly into SAS. It allows you to schedule extracts for upload. This tool probably gets used more with the distributed Visual Analytics systems because it can move the data from the database into the LASR server.
  • User Interface
    Users can upload SAS datasets, Excel spreadsheets, or CSV files through the user interface from their computer. Don’t worry – you have to have permission, so you don’t have to worry about your LASR server overfilling.  (And this is another item that Zencos handles!)
  • Autoloader
    The Autoloader is a set of SAS macros that can load data from the file system into the LASR Server. Many companies have a nightly batch process that drops the new data into a folder where the Autoloader retrieves it and uploads the refreshed dataset into the LASR server. This process updates all the data tables and makes everything ready for the users the next morning. Users with permissions can use these macros to upload data from SAS Enterprise Guide.

How Would I Get Started?

When speaking customers about our SAS Visual Analytics Quick Start program, I highlight how Zencos does the heavy lifting (installation, configuration, and administration), while they get to have fun playing. Within a few weeks, we can have your team up and running on a non-distributed SAS Visual Analytics.

Sometimes the customers want to do a proof of concept, and they use the Amazon cloud (or similar service) to host the environment. It’s a great idea because the service allows you to use what you need and won’t charge you when you have it turned off (like on weekends and evenings). Also – no initial hardware investment! However, the latest version of SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 can be run on a machine with only four cores and 64 GB RAM.

Contact us to get up and running quickly!


Our Data Visualization consultants’ experience helps businesses bridge the gaps between their data, analytics, and reporting. Zencos has deep expertise in data visualization principals using tools like SAS Visual Analytics.

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