Our university system has recently set up a site license contract for SAS software. The system is made up of several four-year institutions and a number of community colleges. Our system IT/IR office has decided that SAS VA is going to be the standard visual analytics tool across the system We have had it installed since July 2016--that's about 7 months. Among the community colleges, we have about 10 or 12 institutional researchers who are very interested in using SAS VA to do . . . well . . . visual analytics. Among the four-year institutions, maybe another 10 or 12. Yesterday, after 7 months, we got our first training session on SAS VA. The system people who have been setting up SAS VA gave us an hour and a half intro. In that intro we were told four things: 1. Because of how difficult it is to control security in SAS VA, it took this long to set up SAS VA to the point where we could be allowed to use the application. 2. We could only do reports based on tables that the system IR office has prepared for us. Right now, after seven months, that would be four tables. 3. Our system uses the Banner Student Information System to handle the data for all ten campuses in the system. We have been using the Banner Operational Data Store (ODS) to do research and reporting for the various campuses. But we cannot connect SAS VA to the ODS to extract, manipulate, and analyze data. As of yesterday, that is too difficult to do and too dangerous. The system administrators have not figured out how to control security for SAS VA, so none of us can use VA to query the ODS and analyze data. 4. We cannot create our own tables (whether SQL, CSV, Excel, whatever) to feed into SAS VA to query or analyze. Too dangerous, not secure enough. We can only use the tables that the system IR office has produced for us. Does this situation make sense to you? We have licensed this supposedly remarkable tool that is designed, I'm guessing, to let us explore data and discover patterns in that data, and we are being restricted to using only the tables that a central office produces for us. Yesterday, after an hour and a half of instruction, most of us could only partially generate three tables of numbers that were derived from the tables that had been prepared beforehand for us to use. I would especially welcome comments from higher education institutions using SAS VA. What has been your experience using SAS VA? Are your IT restrictions as narrow as ours?
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