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SAS Named Best Company To Work For In 2010 183

theodp writes "If you're in the market for a new job, Fortune has just published its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2010. Topping the list this year is SAS (SAS jobs), the largest privately held software company, which Fortune notes is populated with more statisticians than engineers or MBAs, and led by a Ph.D. founder whose first love is programming. Google (jobs), which once viewed SAS as model for employee perks, took the #4 spot, and Microsoft (jobs) checked in at #51."
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SAS Named Best Company To Work For In 2010

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  • mmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by conureman ( 748753 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:41PM (#30885596)


  • Re:Where's Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:52PM (#30885698)

    You answered your own question. Apple is not on the list. Evidently, they are not a particularly wonderful company to work for.

  • Re:Where's Apple? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:26AM (#30885936) Homepage Journal

    I checked the list twice.

    Where's Apple?

    You're trying to be funny, and apparently succeeding, but the answer is: in the past. Apple used to have a great work environment, paid sabbatical for full-timers, etc etc. All that shit is now gone and working for Apple is like working for anyone, except that you have to fear being taken over by the turtleneck.

  • Re:mmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by starbugs ( 1670420 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:54AM (#30886116)
    Mod parent up, M&Ms are on topic.

    That has got to be the best use of the candy since WW2 [] and one of the reasons SAS is #1. That's the type of mindset I would like my boss to have.

  • by slashqwerty ( 1099091 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:56AM (#30886120)
    The Presidency has been rated one of the worst jobs due to the massive responsibility, stress, constant criticism, and threat of being assassinated. The illegal 'perks' you're obviously trying to joke about got Clinton impeached and nearly booted out of office. If that had occurred he may have lost some of the other perks he is entitled to while simultaneously finding himself in a rather unsavory place in history.
  • Ratings are a joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:14AM (#30886260) Journal

    I've worked for a top rated corp. What a joke. On paper, they looked good. But if you didn't conform to the culture it sucked. Official policies mean little, it all come down to the managers in your local department.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:43AM (#30886456) Homepage Journal

    So basically devs are the 24 hr support crew as well as the developers. Needless to say, most devs don't want to be support, so leave the company very quickly.

    Oh okay. I did that for almost ten years at my last job with our state road authority. We supported a lot of hardware as well as the software and for a lot of the time I was doing it two weeks on then two weeks off. It wasn't so bad but if you are the kind of person who expects to spend weekends pissed and unable to move then it might result in a few lifestyle challenges.

    We got perks for being on call though. But OTH the perks and pay combined were less than my total pay in my next job.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:49AM (#30886496) Homepage

    Oncall once a month for a week....ooooooh...that is sooooo harsh...

    Seriously, that is hardly uncommon. In fact, I'd say the majority of places I've worked in the last 10 years have similar rotations, one week per 3-6 weeks. Granted, in most places I've been you only get paged a few times during that week. But one week per month is not that unusual.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:03AM (#30886560)

    I dunno, it sounds pretty crappy to me to spend 1/4 of your life on call. Most respectable companies will hire 24/7 staff if they want 24/7 staff. I have never heard of chemical companies routinely using on-call engineers to solve problems at their plants, for example. Sure, if something explodes, they'll start calling everyone's cell phones---but that better not happen very often at all.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:05AM (#30886570) Journal
    I'm going to have to agree with you, look at their explanation of why Microsoft is so great:

    Thousands of "Softies" worldwide hosted parties to celebrate the launch of the company's new operating system, Windows 7

    Really? Microsoft is great because of Windows 7 launch parties?

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:13AM (#30886604)

    The culture there (at least, when I was there around 2000) was very uncomfortable with the "mercenary" mindset of "do job, get paid, leave."

    That's sort of the whole point of their corporate culture, though, and why the employees like it there, isn't it? The expectation is that neither management/owners nor employees will treat it as a purely mercenary endeavor, so employees aren't using it as a springboard to the next job that offers a 5% higher salary, and management isn't going to screw over employees at the first opportunity.

  • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:45AM (#30886754)

    Popular science/math/statistics applications generally have a very high market persistence... They are like well entrenched programming languages, which is actually what they are. People and organizations have invested an incredible amount of effort into software development, training, etc, to abandon a software packages like this one overnight. SAS software is a kludge of GUI tools written around a core SAS engine that was written at the time when modern computers didn't exist (and it shows), and yet this software is still going strong pretty amazingly. More recently, GNU R and STATA have become viable competitors for the raw statistics portion of SAS (they can't touch its business applications), and SAS might have lost a small market share in that area, but I really doubt it's on its way to die. Only time will show.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:03AM (#30886860)

    The bigger joke is SAS - as someone who has programmed in many, many languages it must have the absolute worst syntax/design of any computing language I know... in what other language does x=y actually mean y=x in some contexts????

    Uh... any logic with equality.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:20AM (#30886958) Journal

    But if you didn't conform to the culture it sucked.

    In other news, sky is blue.

  • First love (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:30AM (#30887000)

    whose first love is programming

    I did an SAS course around 20 years ago. Had to support it on my SunOS system. Then, it was basically an OS360 environment ported to X11. It was horrible to look at and no single "modern" -that was 1992- concept was to be seen. The "concept" of supporting both STDOUT and STDERR was wildly exotic.

    Most SAS users I met were completely clueless about programming and were basically summoned by their depts to perform some wild additions on homogeneous data sets. The statistical functions were probably used by the small base of power users. Back then I'd had wager that a handful of Perl scripts -that was Perl 4 back then- would have solved most problems at a fraction of the cost and would have constituted in more generally trained developers. However, in SAS' niche, product decisions are hardly ever taken by tech savvy people but mostly by accountants that are overwhelmed by (non-)features from ads.

    Anyway, the software was sold and SAS made loads of money out of it. Good for them. Stating that the founder's first love is programming is stretching it a bit.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saiha ( 665337 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @05:46AM (#30887674)

    "Math" uses = for assignment all the time.

    x=5 doesn't mean that the letter x and 5 are interchangeable in all instances, it means that in this context, x has the value of 5.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @06:06AM (#30887774)

    Also, as to the standing by your code comment- the two have nothing to do with each other. I stand by my code, and I take pride in fixing bugs even without a pager. If anything requiring the pager for that reason shows a lack of respect by management for the coder.

    The developers are on call thing is stupid for a raft of other reasons

    *It's not industry standard. Most developers won't put up with it. You lose lots of damn good people to it. Really, talk to a recruiter- when they ask why you left Amazon and you say "the pager" they just nod. Everyone hates it.

    *Related to above, there's lots of good people who won't even interview there due to the pager. I *liked* the rest of my time at Amazon and am between jobs at the moment. I won't even apply there now unless I'm assured up front its a non-pager position.

    *They're developers, not system administration experts, not operational experts. Most developers aren't experts in configuration of servers, server monitoring, etc. That's a separate set of skills. It makes a heck of a lot more sense to pay people who are experts in it to do that stuff, and just have them meet with the developers to figure out any special cases needed for those tools. Incidentally, pager duty is far closer industry standard for them than for developers.

    *A developer who just got paged at 3 am is not going to do a good job fixing a problem. He's half asleep. For anything that doesn't absolutely need programming work right then and there, you're better off with someone fully alert. For something that does require programming to fix- you're better off waiting until morning unless its a true website is down affair. Typing in db commands while half asleep can cause massive problems. I remember one night I was staring at a screen and thought I had already typed in a where clause to a delete, when I had really typed it in on the query above and wasn't seeing right. Almost wiped the table.

    *An on call team in Asia (or the US working nights- you can just hire a night shift) is going to be in the building and responding. The developer may or may not. For example, one member of my team stopped getting pages at his house when they swapped providers a few years back- his house was outside the coverage zone. People sleep through pages, or forget to keep it in the room. People mute it for a movie or the like, then forget to turn it on again when they're out. Pagers get lost, purposely, accidently, or through the hands of pissed off spouses (I knew someone who's wife flushed it down a toilet after being woken up too many times). Paging people just isn't reliable.

    *Putting ops burden on devs like that has horrible consequences if a stream of people leave the team. Not only do you have to do their coding work, but their share of ops work as well. Teams can go into death spirals where someone leaves, causing pager duty to increase, which causes someone else to leave. I've seen teams reduced to 2-3 men by that before management stepped in right before they quit.

    *Taking a dev off of coding to deal with server issues that aren't due to bugs is just lost productivity.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @06:22AM (#30887862)
    Look at how the top companies fare in past years. You notice that while SAS may be top this time, they were #20 last time and lower before that. What this tells us is that the selection criteria are either subjective (i.e. made up from individuals' biases and preconceptions), or, worse that the working environment within companies changes dramatically from one year to another. Either way, it's not a reliable guide to which organisation you want to spend any significant part of your working life with.

    Then there's the minor point that you don't work for a company, you work for a boss and if that person is an idiot, it doesn't matter how high or low in the rankings some place is, that boss can make your work life a living hell. Obviously the opposite applies: a good boss in a bad company can improve things.

    Finally, this list is not confined to IT jobs: it applies to the cleaners as well as the managing director. So there's no indication of a correlation between the likelihood of having a good or bad IT job in a "good" company - the spread is just too broad.

    The very last point is that this only lists companies in america and has nothing to say about the other 95% of the world.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @07:32AM (#30888196) Homepage
    I'm someone who doesn't mind being oncall; however, I simply cannot stand to get paged on something I can't do anything about or on a system I'm unfamiliar with. Both happen a lot at Amazon. You get stuck maintaining systems you did not design and did not write. Nor were you around when it was built, so you have no solid frame of reference. Oh, and good luck finding any accurate docs. When you do come to the conclusion you need to refactor something, 9 times out of 10 your request to fix it is vetoed.
  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @07:49AM (#30888274) Homepage

    New hires come on and get the "honor" of maintaining the system.

    If only that happened in reality. Here's what really happens:

    A core set of developers develop some convoluted flaky system and end up moving to to other teams to work on something else. New hires come on and get the "honor" of maintaining said system. What you end up with is a bunch of recruits barely familiar with the code supporting the oncall. They continue beating their heads with resolving tickets and doing mundane band-aid deployments for a year before they quit or suffer performance problems due to burn out.

  • odd thought (Score:2, Insightful)

    by misfit815 ( 875442 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @09:28AM (#30888866)

    I was actually a bit surprised that my employer didn't make the list. And then I realized just how fortunate I am to think such a thing. Quite an epiphany.

The other line moves faster.