Friday, March 07, 2008

Microsoft Silverlight

I have been in Vegas all week at the Microsoft MIX08 conference for the rollout of Silverlight 2.0. It is so revolutionary that it really got me thinking. That and SAS Global Forum made me mull a few thoughts:

1. Silverlight is going to revolutionize the world. Bold statement, I know.However, what I saw, as a web developer, absolutely stunned me. If you don't believe me, see what NBC will do with the Olympics. 2200 hours of hi-def video, 4 channels per user, VOD, and just much, much more.

However, check this out for something live now:

Data visualization and BI will move toward Silverlight. SAS should move there as well. as quickly as possible. SAS should be a leader here and not follow the inevitable.

2. Microsoft is innovating at an amazing pace. Windows Server 2008, Silverlight, Surface, Vista, IE8, IIS7, and on and on. Meanwhile we await a .07 release from SAS that is languishing once again. Basic project management: reduce scope, increase budget, adjust timeframes...hmmm, it seems like the only option at SAS is the latter and I honestly don't understand it. Hopefully, SAS Global Forum will provide some answers.

3. Silverlight controls are being released open source. Office formats are now open, the .NET source code has been released open source. I think SAS can learn from this and realize that money can be made without keeping everything tight to the vest.

4. Integration Technologies should be bundled with Base. All of this new technology requires it so why, as a customer, do I have to have a separate line item? Put SAS/IntrNet in that category as well. Why does web enablement cost extra from SAS. Pay more and realize it is 2008 and web enablement is part of Base SAS.

5. Microsoft actively encourages blogging even if it is critical of the company. People should be trusted and I have found most use discretion, especially if they are employees. Blogging and active user participation helps sell the company message and actively engages the user community. A once a year conference is not enough in today's fast-paced world. SAS Forums are fine, SAS-L operates via 'birdies' but wouldn't it be great to have blogs from Paul, Vince, Chris, Eric, etc. out in the wild? Open and free, give and take, user comments...

As a SAS advocate, user, former employee, and partner, I am asking for change. More openness, more releases, more interaction. Simple stuff that is doable today.


Anonymous said...

SAS Institute is the epitomy of a proprietary software. They are also well known for predatory pricing which we've seen on the mainframe and on the servers.

One thing that I have seen is a lot of interest by current SAS customers to get off the merry-go-round. What has SAS brought to the table that is new and unique in the last five years? I can't thing of anything that is revolutionary.

Stephen said...

Great post Alan. The plumbing should be included and has been a serious impediment to SAS growth at many customer sites. Ideally, customers want to pay for the items of value not lots of add-ons. Nothing seems to steam customers more than being forced to buy add-ons that seem secondary to the buying reason (think underbody coating from car dealers- who doesn't want their car to rust, etc.)

Having heard Dr Goodnight slam Microsoft yet again at SAS Global Forum, I can say that SAS could learn a lot about pricing, packaging, and compelling value from Microsoft. Noone made customers buy SQL Server or SharePoint, but these two products alone outstrip all SAS product sales per year because of integration, value, and compelling feature sets. This highlights the strength of the Microsoft approach when there are clearly so many competitors in the database and portal space, an area where the old "monopoly" story does not play at all...

That said, anonymous stated there has been no major innovation at SAS in the past 5 years, I would argue otherwise with EM, Forecast Server, and EG and the Add-In adding new value to the product line at SAS. Still, SAS has to modernize and upgrade which means simplification of product line (integrated products) and much more aggressive packaging and pricing.

Anonymous said...

This reminds of an old blog post on "Joel on Software" how there was always tension at Microsoft between the MSDN camp (always new features) and the backwards compatibility camp. As you can guess, the MSDN camp won. Good reading here:

SAS throwing RPC error

If you are doing code in C#  and get this error when creating a LanguageService: The RPC server is unavailable. (Exception from HRESULT:...