Multi-Tiered Business Intelligence (SAS® Intelligence Platform Overview)

Introduction

SAS® Intelligence Platform is a comprehensive solution for data analysis. It can be scaled from a single laptop to a cluster of servers consisting of hundreds of high grade machines.

It often helps to understand what different types of components and their main functions are, and how they are related to each other.

 

The Essence Of SAS® Software and Its Multi-Tiered Architecture

SAS Institute is the leader in analytics. Compared to other programming languages, SAS® is a fourth-generation language designed to work specifically with data from any source, any format and on any scale. SAS® Intelligence Platform is a suite of software solutions for advanced analytics, business intelligence, and data management. All over the world companies from the most varied industries use SAS® solutions to make better decisions faster.

SAS® solutions are focused on data. The SAS® Intelligence Platform is split into different parts, or tiers, which will be explored in more details further in this overview. The metadata alongside these tiers is a glue that sticks all these tiers together, and is often referred to as ‘data about data’. Thus, the multi-tiered architecture of SAS® software allows the different SAS® applications to coordinate, and share the same ‘data about data’, attaining consistency in the data, and in interpretations of the data, which provides elaborate access to information, full integration and smooth management of the enterprise data.

 

Business Intelligence and SAS®

Business Intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes  the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimise decisions and performance (www.gartner.com). And SAS® has the right solution for it! SAS® has developed the Intelligence Platform – a comprehensive business intelligence solution. Using SAS® Enterprise Intelligence Platform, you can facilitate data management, business intelligence and infrastructure and turn your data into an extensive, fully integrated, universal resource, making enterprise data more usable and decision making more effective.

Consistency is one of the many best things about SAS® EIP. The platform is structured in such a way that the data is stored only once, and can be accessed by different client applications, providing coherent, and precise answers, as the results of data extraction will be unchangeably accurate.

 

The Tiers

Let’s take a closer look at the tiers of this multi-tiered platform. So, we have metadata (‘data about data’) which, in the context of SAS®, contains information about all of the resources used to provide business intelligence. And this information will be a description or a name or some other details about the resources, rather than the actual values or the actual reports themselves.

There are 4 different tiers connected by metadata: Data, Server, Client, and Web. The Data, Compute Server and Client tiers are generally installed on separate machines, whereas the Middle (Web) tier can be located on the same machine as the servers are. Although you can have all the tiers on separate machines or all on one.

 

  • SAS® Data Tier

All of the enterprise data sources are located here. There are data storage options within the SAS® Intelligence Platform, including SAS® Data Sets, multidimensional online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes, parallel storage, RDBMS data tables (that SAS® communicates with using SAS/ACCESS), and ERP systems which can be directly accessed using the SAS® Data Surveyor products.

 

  • SAS® Server Tier

SAS® Servers are located on this tier. In the SAS® Intelligence Platform, the term server refers to a process or processes, and does not necessarily refer to a specific computer. SAS® Servers fulfill requests for data or services from client applications. SAS servers of a particular type, running either on the same machine or on different machines, can be grouped into a logical server of the corresponding type. The logical servers are then grouped into a SAS® Application Server.

SAS® Servers include SAS® Workspace Server (where the SAS code is sent to be executed), SAS® Stored Process Server (where most SAS® Stored Processes are executed), Object Spawner (used to start the two previously described servers), SAS® OLAP Server (used to access multidimensional data cubes), and other servers. All SAS® servers can be viewed and administered in the Server Manager Plug-In of the SAS® Management Console.

Learn more about SAS® Server Tier, SAS® Servers, and methods you can use to spread the workload amongst the servers.

 

  • SAS® Web Tier

SAS® Web Tier is sometimes called the middle tier of the SAS® Intelligence Platform as it connects the SAS® Servers and Web Clients enabling users to access intelligence data and functionality via a web browser. It contains everything you need to run the SAS® Web Applications.

The Web Tier includes Servlet container or J2EE Application Server to be able to function correctly, Java SDK, WebDAV Server for storing and organising your files on your web server, SAS® Application and SAS® Foundation Services, SAS® Web Infrastructure Kit (WIK), and SAS® Web Applications, all of which are configured by the SAS Deployment Manager.

 

  • SAS® Client Tier

The Client Tier provides users with desktop access to intelligence data and functionality through easy-to-use interfaces. This is where all of the client applications are located. All of the client applications allow logging on the same Metadata Server, so that with any of them the same data and metadata will always be used.

Reporting and analysis tasks can be mostly performed with just a web browser. For more advanced tasks, SAS® client software (either Java-based or Windows-based) is installed on users’ desktops. Java-based client applications include SAS® Management Console, SAS® Data Integration Studio, SAS® OLAP Cube Studio, and SAS® Information Map Studio. .Net client applications include SAS® Add-In for Microsoft Office and Enterprise Guide. Web-based client applications include SAS® Web Report Studio and SAS® Information Delivery Portal.

 

SAS® Metadata Server

Metadata joining the tiers together and describing the entire SAS® environment is stored in SAS® Metadata Repositories containing Metadata Objects, and is accessed and managed by the SAS® Metadata Server. Metadata Objects are descriptions of different elements of the platform, rather than the actual element itself.

The SAS® Metadata Server enables centralized control so that all users access consistent and accurate data. The SAS® Intelligence Platform provides a central management tool — SAS® Management Console — that you use to manage the Metadata Server and the Metadata Repository.

 

Conclusion

The SAS® Intelligence Platform is a comprehensive, end-to-end framework for creating, managing and distributing business intelligence across an organisation. It includes tools and interfaces that enable you to build a fully integrated data warehouse and efficiently store large volumes of data, give business users the ability to explore all the enterprise data in a web browser and perform simple query and reporting functions, and use high-end analytic techniques.

With the SAS® Intelligence Platform and its multi-tiered, metadata-sharing architecture, you have all the functionality to achieve and centrally control the accuracy and consistency of your enterprise data. With the SAS® Intelligence Platform, you have all the tools to create applications that meet the needs of different types of users and reflect your unique business requirements and domain knowledge.

 

We Are Here To Help

Data is more than facts and figures. It is the source and main channel of your business vitality. It records and keeps the chronicles of your organisation and tells its history. And it’s transmitting the message to you too.

SAS® helps you get the message. SAS® catches all your data streams and turns them into insights that give you a fresh perspective on your business. This will let you know what is working, fix what is not, and bring new opportunities to light.

 
We are doing our best to let you learn more about SAS®, which helps organisations turn large amounts of data into knowledge they can use and does it better than anyone. If you have found this article useful or have any questions, we would love to hear from you. Our SAS® consultants will answer any of your questions and help you to analyse|implement|maximise your SAS® platform.

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Alla Lagutik

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