What’s the difference between SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS DI Studio?

SAS DI Studio

A question SAS programmers/users sometimes ask me is “What’s the difference between SAS Enterprise Guide (EG) and SAS Data Integration Studio (DI)?” Both run SAS code and can generate tables and reports… my one-line response is “it’s about those SAS jobs being SAS metadata objects.”

It’s about the Metadata

What do I mean by this? Well, in EG you work with tables and SAS code (either with EG tasks or hand written code). If you’re a SAS programmer whose upgraded from SAS Display Manager (aka BASE SAS) then you now get the benefit of a program editor with autocompletion, built-in syntax highlighting, integrated help and automatic code formatting. If you are an analyst then you get the power of being able to generate SAS code for your reporting and querying needs via point-and-click tasks within your EG project. In both situations you generate SAS code (perhaps even a stored process) all working off SAS tables that may have libraries assigned in metadata… and there is that word… metadata.

As I’m sure you know the general definition of metadata is “data about data“.  So what is that… it’s details about the data you are working with. For example, if you have a customer table in your Oracle database then that metadata is about the Oracle library engine (assuming that you are using SAS/Access to Oracle), connection details to the Oracle database, the column attributes (such as name, type, length, formats etc), when the table was created, modified and any security access controls etc. So why is this important…

With the SAS 9 platform the SAS metadata server and associated metadata repositories are the heart of SAS. The SAS 9 Intelligence Platform Overview document provides a great background to help understand how all the pieces in the SAS platform fit together and the importance of keeping that metadata heart pumping.

Why do SAS Enterprise Guide Users Care about Metadata?

So as an EG user why do I need to know about SAS metadata? The metadata server enables consistent, centralized storage of information about all the resources in your environment. It stores information about many things including: users, groups, roles, capabilities, tables, columns, libraries, cubes, stored processes, information maps, DI jobs and many more. This means you can access many of these resources in EG without having to set them up yourself. Your administrator has already done this work for you and made it available in metadata so you can concentrate on your projects.

SAS Enterprise Guide Physical Data
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These EG projects, whilst using metadata are not commonly stored in metadata: they are often stored as .sas files or .egp files outside of metadata. This limits their availability for things like impact analysis, searching, metadata audit and security. DI Studio jobs are represented in metadata with a great deal of detail.

What is the Value of SAS DI Studio?

DI is a metadata-driven visual design tool where you create jobs and their components as metadata objects (potentially within an integrated change management environment). Ultimately SAS code is generated, although it is more of a by-product of the process. The job metadata is the primary “document” and is stored with enough detail in metadata to allow the additional benefits.

DI jobs are generally used for consolidating and managing enterprise source and target data with process flows that extract, transform and load (ETL) operational data into data warehouses and data marts. That process can be simple or complex depending on the organisation. Some organisations may start out using EG as an ETL tool and later realise that they have difficulty managing everything they need to do such as data validation, history, data cleansing (via handy data quality tools such as DataFlux), metadata reporting, impact analysis, complex scheduling of dependencies, and change management across environments (dev, test, prod).

SAS DI Studio
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So that’s why I consider the difference between EG and DI primarily relates to “those SAS jobs being SAS metadata objects“… EG is a great tool for consuming SAS metadata to do querying, reporting and analysis. Whilst EG can be used for basic ETL, when you need enterprise data integration capabilities, DI Studio becomes the better choice. It’s greater use of metadata allows for the management of much more complex ETL processes.

For detailed functional differences between EG and DI, check out the product user documentation. For SAS Enterprise Guide this is found within the product and for SAS Data Integration Studio click here.

Share your thoughts… What do you consider the difference between SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS DI Studio?

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8 thoughts on “What’s the difference between SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS DI Studio?

  1. I wish SAS would create a DI/EG mashup tool. There are features from each that I wish the other one had!

  2. Great post. For me, one big reason I use DI studio for ETL instead of EG is the ability to schedule jobs to run nightly on the server, and automatically email upon execution, completion, errors, etc. The process seems a bit cumbersome (deploy a job, then create a flow, then schedule the flow…) at least on our set up where SAS is using LSF tools to manage the scheduling. But the end result works well. And importantly, with DI Studio the scheduled job runs on the SAS server. It’s possible to schedule EG process flows (http://blogs.sas.com/content/sasdummy/2012/04/17/doing-more-with-sas-enterprise-guide-automation/), but since the EG client runs on Windows, it uses Windows scheduler to start EG. If your PC is off, EG can’t run.

  3. “Data management” is a discipline in itself, and Data Integration Studio supports that discipline. It’s one of the specialized interfaces that SAS produces to support in-depth activities in the data management arena.

    SAS Enterprise Guide — while it can be used for just about anything — is not geared towards a specific discipline. You, as the user, must bring your own discipline to the tool. If you want to use EG for detailed data management (or predictive analytics, or production forecasting, or quality control metrics…), you can do that (and people do!), but SAS offers other tools that are more fit for that purpose.

    As you point out, Michelle, SAS Enterprise Guide users are often the beneficiaries of the upfront work done in Data Integration Studio. The outputs of DI support the ad-hoc and production reporting needs of the SAS Enterprise Guide masses.

  4. Hi jprins (great to hear from you!),

    I’m pleased to hear that the article gave you some realizations. I find that many sites use EG as an ETL tool and then get to the same point, as yourself. Many reasons why this happens such as: changes in business requirements, changes in the way things are done, growth in a team and the need to have better governance and processes in place such as change management, version control and metadata management. In any case, using the strengths of each tool can be extremely beneficial for an organization.

    I hope your transition to DI goes well and that we get to catch up at SASGF14, where we discuss further.


  5. Thanks for this article. It made me realize we could benefit from SAS DI studio and not try to use EG for ETL.

  6. It is worth mentioning that SAS DI Studio, in addition to having ETL features, also has ELT features. In ELT, “load” is done before “transform”.

    Within DI Studio, there is a pass-through option that enables ELT mode.

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