To SAS Hotfix or to not SAS Hotfix, that is the question.

by | Aug 11, 2016

As a SAS Administrator, I have been responsible for a number of SAS sites either for the organisation I have worked for at the time or through OptimalBI’s managed SAS Admin service. Every site required, be it a formal or informal, strategy to implement SAS Hot Fixes to ensure the smooth running of the site. I thought I would share in a short series of posts the approach I take when working out what SAS hotfixes strategy an organisation should have. In this post, I will explain what Hotfixes are and the philosophies/approach to determining what hotfixes should be applied.

Hotfix Overview

What are SAS hotfixes?

Hot fixes address software issues uncovered by customer applications. A hot fix provides a quick solution to an immediate problem or can be seen as system maintenance.

Determining what hotfixes are available.

Since the release of SAS 9.2 SAS have provided the SAS HotFix Analysis Download and Deployment tool which evaluates a SAS deployment and generates a report that includes information and links to hot fixes that are available. Additionally, when new hot fixes become available, announcements are posted to tsnews-l.

Determining what hotfixes should be applied.

On SAS’ Hotfix FAQ SAS recommend that there are two philosophies which can be followed when determining which hot fixes should be applied.

Philosophy 1: “Install only what is needed”

Some sites are interested in fixing only those problems that they encounter. They do not see the necessity of installing fixes for problems that do not affect them. They want to install just the fixes that are needed to keep their existing jobs running successfully. This minimises the number of changes and regression testing to their SAS installations and the time spent installing hot fixes. These sites should download hot fixes only on an as-needed basis.

Philosophy 2: “Install every fix that is available”

Other sites want to be proactive by keeping their SAS installation updated with all of the latest fixes. These are typically larger sites that use many different components of the software. There are also users who are more comfortable with always running the “latest and greatest”. For these sites, downloading the available product hot fixes at set intervals of time is the best and most efficient approach.

Neither philosophy is better or more correct than the other; they are just two different ways of thinking. It is up to each site to determine which philosophy best meets its business needs.


Hotfix Strategies

In my experience there are three strategies that an organisation can follow when applying SAS hotfixes, these align with the two philosophies mentioned above.

Break fix only

Do not patch unless you have a specific problem/incident you are trying to resolve. In this situation, a particular issue is causing SAS not to work as expected or critical tasks can’t be completed, and a specific SAS usage note, support partner or SAS technical support advise that a particular hotfix will resolve the issue.

Installation of the fix can be included as part of the implementation of the fix for the particular problem/incident and would follow the organisation’s change/release process.

This aligns with Philosophy 1.

Frequency: As required.

Cherry Pick fixes

Apply hotfixes that relate to minor bug fixes or new functionality of the SAS deployment.

When a hotfix is announced someone will need to determine if an installation is required.  Installation of the fix would need to be scheduled into the next appropriate change window.

Includes break fix.

This aligns with Philosophy 1.

Frequency: As Hotfixes are released or periodically

All Fixes

Install all available hotfixes for the SAS deployment at regular intervals.

There would be approved and scheduled maintenance windows for when the hotfixes, if any, can be installed.

Includes break fix.

This aligns with Philosophy 2.

Frequency: Scheduled regularly

So that is the different type of strategies an organisation can use when applying SAS hotfixes; But how does an organisation chose the approach that best suits them I hear you ask? Well, I’ll take you through that process in my next post.
Barry – Preventer of Chaos
Barry blogs about how to stop chaos in your systems
You can read, Selecting a SAS Hotfix Strategy? or all of Barry’s blogs here.
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