Pocketbook costs of software

I have always been provided SAS as part of my job, so I never really realized how much it cost. I’ve bought Stata before, and of course R :). I recently found out how much a reasonable bundle of SAS modules along with base SAS costs per year per seat, at least under the GSA. I tried finding out how much IBM SPSS is for a comparable bundle, but their web page was “not available”. Stata costs in the ballpark of $1700 (for a permanent license of Stata/SE) or $845 for an annual license. SAS costs over 5 times that per seat for similar functionality (Ouch!!). R, with its quirks but with similar if not enhanced functionality in a lot of areas, is of course, freely downloadable. 

Matlab is another software I’ve bought as part of my job. For a reasonable bundle, in an academic setting, it is close to $3000. Of course, here it’s a bit easier to pick and choose, since I don’t need most of the modules which are of more interest to engineers.

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6 comments

    1. I haven’t spent a dime recently :) My work pays for the SAS license, and any other essential pieces of software I use. The cost of course gets passed on. I’m cheap for my employer, since I primarily use R and Python, which are free and open-source. I just wanted to make the point of how high the costs for enterprise-level analysis tools are getting, and they are not provably uniformly superior to cheaper and free alternatives.

  1. Have you considered Mathematica as a potential alternative? As far as I know they have made great improvements in the statistics and probability area in the latest version, Mathematica 8, and there’s no need to buy extra packages since all the functionality is included in the program.

    1. Actually the point of the blog was sticker shock. There’s a wide variety of commercial and open-source solutions for data analysis, including Mathematica, which I have used before. My point is that, as an independent consultant or a cash-strapped agency or company, the sticker price ends up being a barrier to utilization. The more expensive stuff (SAS, IBM SPSS, & Matlab to some extent) are only in the enterprise. Given the current democratization of data access and analysis tools, these more expensive (but excellent) suites are not the ones that will get prime mileage.

  2. If you think this was shocking, try licensing SAS independently– last I checked it was $15k for Base, Stats, and Graph. OTOH, I pay $50 through my university for the full academic package.

  3. Sticker shock sympathy! Recently priced a variety of data-mining/predictive-modeling software options for my team at work. SAS (Enterprise Miner, specifically) is so expensive it’s like ‘If you have to ask for the price, you can’t afford it’ – but IBM’s SPSS Modeler (used to be Clementine) isn’t too far behind.

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