The impact of WRDS transition to the new WRDS Cloud server

WRDS has quietly started the transition from the old server to the new Cloud server. This move makes a lot of support documentation on the WRDS website outdated and misleading. That is why I think WRDS should direct its resources on continuously updating tutorials and manuals and providing more ready-to-use research macros and applications, instead of wasting money on website cosmetics as it did recently.

Now, among supporting documentation about accessing WRDS, only the following two are up-to-date:

The WRDS Cloud Manual
PC-SAS on the WRDS Cloud

All other documentation contains outdated information and may cause confusion and unexpected problems.

In its support documentation, WRDS refers to the old server as either WRDS Unix Server or WRDS Interactive Server (wrds3). The new server is called WRDS Cloud.

The address of the old server: wrds.wharton.upenn.edu 4016
The address of the new server: wrds-cloud.wharton.upenn.edu 4016

They are DIFFERENT! Users who are accessing WRDS using SSH and PC-SAS will be impacted by this transition.

PC-SAS users are familiar with these statements:

PC-SAS users were able to use one of the eight SASTEMP directories on the server to store sizeable data files temporarily, and upload/download data files to/from their home directory (which would be /home/yourinstitution/youraccountname with 750M space limit). In addition, if you use SSH to log onto the old server, you will see the same home directory as using PC-SAS. As a result, if you uploaded a data file to your home directory via easy-to-use SSH File Transfer (an FTP-like app), you would be able to reference to the file later on during PC-SAS connections.

Now this has been changed. PC-SAS now (since August 25, 2015) connects through the WRDS Cloud, instead of the older Interactive Server (wrds3), EVEN IF YOU STILL SPECIFY %let wrds = wrds.wharton.upenn.edu 4016;. The results of this change are:

  • You are not able to use one of the eight SASTEMP directories by using PC-SAS. Instead, you are able to use a larger directory for your temporary data (500G shared by your institution), located at /scratch/yourinstitution. You are still able to access the eight SASTEMP directories if you log onto the old server by using SSH.
  • The WRDS Cloud gives you a new home directory, though its path remains /home/yourinstitution/youraccount (with a new 10G space limit). So if you use SSH to log onto the old server (as many users probably do if they are not aware of the server transition), you cannot see data files that you create in your home directory during PC-SAS connections.

These two results may cause much confusion for users who use both PC-SAS and SSH to access WRDS interchangeably. They may ask: “why cannot I use the temporary directory any more?” or “where is my data file?”

To avoid any possible problem, users would better use the new WRDS Cloud server consistently with either SSH or PC-SAS from now on. This means whenever you access WRDS, always use the new server address:

If you use PC-SAS, use the following statements:

If you use SSH, use the following command:
ssh youraccountname@wrds-cloud.wharton.upenn.edu

With the new WRDS Cloud server, you use a new command to run your SAS code in background in the SSH command line mode:
qsas yourprogram.sas &

You can use qstat to browse your currently running job and get the job id. If you change your mind and want to terminate that job, you can type:
qdel yourjobid

WRDS is going to phase out the old server. The new WRDS Cloud is supposed to be more computationally powerful. Plus, the new WRDS server offers users a larger home directory and temporary directory. Therefore, it is time for users to migrate to the new WRDS Cloud server.

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One Response to The impact of WRDS transition to the new WRDS Cloud server

  1. Victor says:

    Good to know!

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