Interview with Anne Milley, SAS II

Anne Milley is director of product marketing, SAS Institute . In part 2 of the interview Anne talks of immigration in technology areas, open source networks ,how she misses coding and software as a service especially SAS Institutes offering . She also reveals some preview on SAS s involvement with R and mentions cloud computing.


Ajay – Labor arbitrage outsourcing versus virtual teams located globally. What is the SAS Inst position and your opinion on this. What do you feel about the recent debate on HB1 visas and job cuts. How many jobs if at all is SAS planning to cut in 2009-2010.

Anne – SAS is a global company, with customers in more than 100 countries around the world.  We hire employees in these countries to help us better serve our global customers.  Our workforce decisions are based on our business needs.  We also employ virtual teams–the feedback and insights from our global workforce help us improve and develop new products to meet the evolving needs of our customers.  (As someone who works from her home office in Connecticut, I am a fan of virtual teaming!)  We see these approaches as complementary.

The issue of the H-1B visa is a different discussion entirely.  H-1B visas, although capped, permit US employers to bring foreign employees in specialty occupations into this country.   The better question, though, is what is necessitating the need for H-1B visas.  We would submit that the reason the U.S. has to look outside its borders for highly qualified technical workers is because we are not producing a sufficient number of workers with the right skill sets to meet U.S. demand.  In turn, that means that our educational system is not producing students interested or qualified to pursue the STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) professions (either at a K-12 or post-secondary level), or developing the workforce improvement programs that may allow workers to pursue these specialty occupations.  Further, any discussion about H-1B visas (or any other type of visa) should include a more comprehensive review of our nations immigration policiesare they working, are they not working, how or why are they, are we able to limit illegal immigration and if not, why not, etc.

I am not aware of any planned job cuts at SAS.  In fact, I am aware of a few groups which are actively hiring.

Ajay- What open source softwares have SAS Institute worked in the past and it continues to support financially as well as technologically.  Any exciting product releases in 2009-2010 that you can tell us about.

Anne- Open source software provides many options and benefits.  We see many (SAS included) embracing open source for different things.  Our software runs on Linux and we use some open-source tools in development. There are different aspects of open source software in developing SAS software:

-Development with open source tools such as Eclipse, Ant, NAnt, JUnit, etc. to build, test, and package our software

-Using open source software in our products; examples include Apache/Jakarta products such as the Apache Web Server.

-Developing open source software, making changes to an open source codebase, and optionally contributing that source back to the open source project, to adapt an open source project for use in a SAS product or for internal use. Example: Eclipse.

And we plan to do more with open source in the future.  The first step of SAS integrating with R will be shown at SAS Global Forum coming up in DC later this month.  Other announcements for new offerings are also planned at this event. 

Ajay- What do you feel about adopting Software as a service for any of  SAS Institute’s products. Any new initiatives from SAS on the cloud computing front especially in terms of helping customers cut down on hardware costs.

Anne- SAS Solutions OnDemand, the division which oversees the infrastructure and support of all our hosted offerings, is expanding in this rapidly growing market.  SAS Solutions OnDemand Drug Development was our first SaaS offering announced in January.  Additional news on new hosted offerings will be announced at SAS Global Forum later this month.  SAS doesnt currently offer any external cloud computing options, but were actively looking at this area.

AjayWhich software do you personally find best to write code into and why. Do you miss writing code, if so why ?

Anne- In my current role, I have limited opportunity to write code.  At times, I do miss the logical thought process coding forces you to adopt (to do the job as elegantly as possible).  I had the opportunity to do a long-term assignment at a major financial services company in the UK last year and did get to use some SAS and JMP, including a little JSL (JMP scripting language).  Theres nothing like real-world, noisy, messy data to make you thankful for the power of writing code!  Even though I dont write code on a regular basis, I am happy to see continued investment in the languages SAS providesamong the most recent, the addition of an algebraic optimization modeling language in our SAS/OR module contained within the SAS language as PROC OPTMODEL.

I have great respect for people who invest in learning (or even getting exposure to) more than one language and who appreciate the strengths of different languages for certain tasks and applications.

Ajay- It is great to see passionate people at work on both sides of the open source as well as packaged software teams- and even better for them to collaborate once in a while.Most of our work is based on scientists who came before us (especially in math theory).

Ultimately we are all just students of science anyway.

SAS Global Forum –

Annual event of SAS language practitioners.SAS language consists of data step and proc steps for input and output thus simplifying syntax for users.

SAS Institute The leader of analytics software since 1970s , it grew out of the North Carolina University, and provides jobs to thousands of people. The worlds largest privately held company, admired for its huge investments in Research and Development and criticized for its premium price  on packaged software solutions.A recent entrant in corporate users who are willing to support R language.

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