It seems like everything these days is only for rent. The way we consume movies, music, books, computing, even the features in our cars, have all moved to be subscription model services, not products you buy and own. Pay once, own forever has increasingly become pay forever, own never. While this is obviously good for the companies that have forced us down this path, what’s less obvious is the limitations it imposes on privacy, innovation, freedom and choice.

At a macro level, this shift is intensifying the global inflation spiral we are all now in, as customers have far less control over the timing and amounts of discretionary spending. Outside of fossil fuels and food, some of the most eye popping price increases have been with these services. In the past, if you couldn’t make ends meet, you just wouldn’t buy that new movie you wanted, or that new Pearl Jam CD – oops I’ve just dated myself. With everything as a service, it’s now an all-or-nothing decision.

In the 1970’s SAS was ahead of virtually everyone in the software world. It had an innovative software product, only it wasn’t a product at all, it was what we now call Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). You see, even in those early days, you couldn’t own a licence to SAS, you could only rent a yearly subscription, and they did a stunningly good job of locking customers into massive multi-year contracts. While virtually all proprietary software was “buy to own” for the next 4 decades, SAS was not. Even the most notoriously abusive legacy vendor (prophesizing about a database), made their software available for purchase, only charging steeply increasing fees for upgrades & support. At least in those cases, if you didn’t pay the ransom, you could still use the existing software “as-is”.

Many SAS language users were, and continue to be blissfully unaware of the critical difference between Software and SaaS, and its implications. As you would expect, they use the service as though they own it. Many companies have developed millions of lines of critical business processes using the SAS language, without understanding that they were being ensnared into unfathomable future costs and limitations.

That future has now arrived. Many using the SAS language are now facing walloping cost increases, as the language’s two geriatric guards look to cash out by going public. The one alternative implementation, supporting only some of the SAS language, also happens to have a ransomware model. Worse yet, most SAS practitioners are missing out on the incredible innovations and productivity gains in modern data science and data engineering. Using a language which is only available to be run as a proprietary service, imprisons you in a cage you can’t see, and conceals the path to innovation behind an enigma.

The trend of “as-a-service” is clearly not going away, and of course it has many benefits to consumers and business users alike. The simplicity and flexibility of service based (Cloud) computing has helped to transform many enterprises, making them more efficient, scalable, and nimble. But, all service offerings are not created equal.

Take for example, a certain Cloud data warehouse that innovates at a glacial pace. With its over-hyped, marketing driven business, it oozes the stench of legacy vendor lock-in. It’s just like all the legacy database vendors of old, but with a far more powerful lock-in factor. With every twist and turn, they drive their customers away from free choice, and condemn them into expensive and bottom-rung proprietary tools. Sure, they can “connect” to Python and PySpark, but when the data is all locked away in a costly and inferior proprietary platform, does it really matter?

Open Source Software, and PySpark in particular, is helping consumers and business take back control. Combined with the now fully open sourced Delta format, PySpark is not only open, but is the simplest, fastest and most capable lakehouse analytics platform available. If you want to have PySpark as a managed service, there’s tonnes of choice out there, but no better service than Databricks. As the creators of Apache Spark and Delta, Databricks continues to innovate with open source solutions every day. Vendor lock-in, no thank you. Databricks is winning by having great service offerings and support, not by forcing customers to stay.

Freeing yourself from the shackles of years of SAS language use, is no simple feat. Indeed, like a prison break, without the right plan and the right outside help, it’s almost impossible to pull off. Thankfully, WiseWithData are the World’s leading experts at SAS modernization to open source and Databricks. Over the past 7 years, we’ve led countless customers to freedom. Our automation and experience is unmatched in the industry.

Let’s work on your prison break plan