SAS 9

REVIEWER: Michael J. Augustine, lead analyst of marketing services for KeySpan.

BACKGROUND: A member of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, KeySpan Corporation is the fifth largest distributor of natural gas in the United States and the largest in the Northeast, operating regulated gas utilities in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, serving 2.5 million customers. These customer-focused businesses are complemented by a portfolio of service companies which offer energy-related products, services and solutions to homes and businesses.

PLATFORMS: We run SAS 9 on a Dell 650 and a Dell 530 Precision Workstation, both dual-Xeon processor workstations in the multigigahertz range. Currently, we're using Windows NT4, but are in the process of migrating to Windows XP.

PROBLEM SOLVED: KeySpan faces ever-increasing demands for its services but has limited ability to import power from outside the service region. To date, however, the company has met these demands, steadily expanding its electric generation capacity by building, operating and maintaining facilities in both urban and suburban markets. To make the best use of its assets while managing multimillion dollar capital improvement campaigns, KeySpan counts on SAS 9 for the business intelligence that managers and executives need to meet corporate goals.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: KeySpan's platform for business intelligence includes SAS for data warehousing, data analysis and reporting. The software's functionality and ease of use have allowed us to provide IT support for the entire division, thus centralizing data management. The BI platform is updated daily via automated scheduling tasks that pull data from a variety of systems, including Maximo, PeopleSoft, Smart Time and many internal databases. Other systems, such as Oracle Financials and Oracle Supply Chain, are accessed on a monthly basis. Monthly financial reports pull millions of records from Oracle tables that include information for every project and every account, organized by cost type, cost center and date. These reports are used to monitor customer service levels, track employee performance, prepare long-term financial plans and determine profit-sharing costs of capital expenses, which are shared with the Long Island Power Authority.

STRENGTHS: Because of the improved processing speeds, data can be processed in 20 to 25 minutes, instead of the hour it used to take. Most importantly, however, SAS 9 gives KeySpan a complete system that easily accomplishes any business intelligence request. Using SAS, we can access data, process it and target the output exactly how the user wants to see it. SAS allows a single user to do things that would normally require an intense IT effort.

WEAKNESSES: You cannot intuitively use existing code from SAS Enterprise Guide, a component of the SAS 9 platform, and parse it out for inclusion in other processes. Once a code node is moved, it is no longer explicitly connected with an arrowed line to previous steps in the process flow.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We decided to implement SAS 9 after reading about the software's multithreading capabilities. With millions of records to process daily, we cannot afford to lose any time. Because SAS has enabled us to cut processing times in half, we can get critical information to decision-makers faster than ever.

DELIVERABLES: SAS produces reports that are instrumental in tracking financial indicators, customer service levels and employee performance. Everyone - from the vice president of the business unit down to individual department managers - relies on these daily reports, which are customized for each user and delivered via the company intranet or directly to executives' inboxes using SAS' e-mail capabilities.

VENDOR SUPPORT: I've been working with SAS for approximately 25 years, and the technical support has always been excellent. SAS has a great support system in place, and they've always quickly addressed any of my concerns. It's been a pleasure to work with the company.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is easy to understand and to follow, especially the online documents. However, they can be overwhelming at first because they contain so much information.

SAS 9
SAS Institute Inc.
100 SAS Campus Drive
Cary, NC 27513
919-677-8000
www.sas.com

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