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How Successfully Migrate Your SAS Environment to the Cloud

10/29/2021 by Juli Yaguda Modernization - Analytics

To stay competitive, your business no longer faces a question of whether to plan for a full cloud migration. It’s more a question of when that migration can start. 

Even if your data is already in the cloud, you’re missing the full benefits if your application is still running in-house. On one hand, retaining your existing infrastructure is understandable given the investment you’ve likely made in analytics software and hardware. But on the other, you have the opportunity to elevate your analytics efforts by extending the same advantages of cloud storage to your SAS environment. 

Fortunately, when your organization uses SAS, migrating your analytics application to the cloud doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether your organization is using SAS 9.4 or SAS Viya, transitioning the same software into a cloud environment like Azure can be a straightforward process, especially with proper planning.  

The Importance of Moving SAS Applications to the Cloud

A transition to a cloud-based computing environment might sound daunting for any organization. But hosting your application in the cloud allows analytics tools to function at a much higher level. 

Migrating your current version of SAS to Azure improves performance by closing the distance between your data and your tools. But just as importantly, it extends the same benefits of cloud storage to your computing capabilities. 

When you need to expand capacity to meet spikes in demand, the cloud allows for greater scalability. Plus, the cloud allows you to transition hardware, maintenance, and other operational tasks from in-house to your cloud provider. In terms of computing power, you only pay for the resources your organization currently needs. You’re also reducing the costs associated with the ongoing management of your analytics infrastructure. 

Ultimately, just as the cloud is the wave of the future for storage, it also stands as the new frontier for hosting software applications. According to a Gartner study, a cloud-hosted environment will be essential to apply the latest developments in data analytics. If your organization wants continued access to the most innovative analytics practices, you need to transition your SAS instance to the cloud. 

Key Areas to Consider When Migrating SAS to the Cloud

By definition, the cloud is a flexible environment. But it still requires the proper blend of planning and expertise to ensure your application will suit your organization’s needs. The process follows many of the same steps required to implement any new solution, and could be applied to a migration to any cloud environment. 

Given the partnership between SAS and Microsoft, your journey to the cloud is streamlined with Azure as your cloud provider. In addition to the compatibility of the two systems, Microsoft’s migration tools can transition an application’s footprint from an on-premises environment to the cloud. 

However, depending on the details of your analytics environment, the migration tools may not be compatible. In those cases, you need to perform a new install of SAS 9.4 or Viya and move your application to Azure. You can streamline your migration project by focusing on four key areas. 

Architecture

Migrating the same analytics application from one platform to another essentially functions as a one-for-one transition. However, you have to consider some key components when looking at the architecture of your new environment. 

The storage you have allocated for your on-prem application may be slightly different when you’re creating an instance in Azure. As you configure your cloud environment, you need to ensure you have enough storage and memory to cover all of the same processes you ran in your old system. 

Fortunately, part of the beauty of moving to the cloud is you gain more flexibility for managing your virtual resources. Adding storage and memory to suit your needs is much easier. Your cloud provider also provides more resources to manage and maintain your new environment. 

Security

Though your cloud provider will offer their own additional security components for your data, you need to keep your application secure. Every touch point between your analytics tools and your data introduces a potential security vulnerability. Plus, you need to ensure your security protocols are properly set up for your application’s new URL in the cloud environment, which you’ll establish once your migration is complete. 

For any migration, the sooner you begin planning your security model the better. You may not be able to use the same configuration as your on-prem environment, and ensuring your security level is maintained is critically important. 

Application Source to Target 

Whenever you’re migrating data between environments, you need to map its attributes in the source system to the instance where it’s moving. The same principle applies with your SAS application. 

As you prepare to move your application, you need to analyze your current processes and how they should look in the target location — the cloud. If you’re able to use Microsoft Azure’s migration tool, you’ll have the advantage of incorporating automation to this stage. Otherwise, you need to assess your SAS platform’s source environment to make sure everything you need will end up in its new location. 

Once you’ve verified the application source to target, you can migrate it. And once complete, you need to verify its success. 

User Acceptance Testing 

Now that your application has been moved over, you need to conduct tests to verify everything is working as expected. User acceptance testing (or UAT) attempts to simulate the actual queries your internal users will execute in order to  examine the results. 

User acceptance testing marks a crucial stage. It’s the final chance to ensure all the details of your analytics solution are available and functioning as your internal teams expect. Once your cloud-hosted application is producing the expected results, your migration can go to production. 

Transition

The final stage of transferring SAS to the cloud is changing its URL to the cloud or Azure environment. Once complete, your data partner who has assisted you through the migration can conduct further tests to ensure the new URL is functioning properly. 

Once your application is fully migrated to the cloud, there’s no going back. Fortunately, given the multiple layers of testing and verification leading up to this point, you won’t need to. And once you start to experience the benefits of migrating your data analytics tools to the cloud, you won’t want to, either.