INCLINE VILLAGE, NV – June 30, 2014 – Frontline Systems is shipping a major new product line release, Version 2014-R2 of its Solvers for Excel, including its flagship integrated product, Analytic Solver Platform, and a brand-new "professional entry-level" integrated product, Analytic Solver Pro.
The new release features XLMiner Platform, a completely re-engineered, very powerful tool for data mining and predictive analytics, that Frontline says is a serious alternative to far more expensive data mining software from SAS, IBM and others.
The release also includes new versions of Risk Solver Platform, the leading tool for simulation / risk analysis, conventional and stochastic optimization in Excel; Premium Solver Platform, Frontline’s best-selling tool for conventional optimization; and subset "professional entry-level" products Premium Solver Pro, Risk Solver Pro, and XLMiner Pro.
"Our message for Analytic Solver Platform continues to be ‘no-compromise analytics in Excel’," said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. "Users enjoy the ease of use of Excel, and leverage their spreadsheet model-building experience, but they don’t compromise at all on functionality or performance." Analytic Solver Platform incorporates many of the most powerful algorithms for optimization, simulation and data mining available, and exploits new technology in CPUs, GPUs and cloud servers to a greater degree than many "enterprise analytics" software packages costing far more.
Upward Compatible from Excel Solver, works with Excel 2013
Frontline’s Solvers for Excel are upward compatible from the Solver included in Excel, which Frontline developed for Microsoft, and improved in Excel 2010 for Windows and Excel 2011 for Macintosh. Users can solve problems hundreds to thousands of times larger than the basic Excel Solver, at speeds anywhere from several times to hundreds of times faster, and they can solve completely new types of problems.
Visual Data Exploration and Data Mining Applied to Monte Carlo Simulation
Analytic Solver Platform is the first software to bring the power of data mining and visual data exploration, to the analysis of Monte Carlo simulation trial data. For example, one of the most popular and easiest to use data mining methods – k-means clustering – is available directly in the dialog which displays charts of simulation results. The automatically-discovered clusters of trials are displayed visually in these charts.
‘Scoring’ of Data Mining and Forecasting Models in the Spreadsheet
New in this release is a full set of add-in "Psi Functions for Data Mining," which allow Excel users to apply a classification, prediction or time series forecasting model, ‘trained‘ using XLMiner, to new data in an Excel spreadsheet – automatically re-applying the model on each spreadsheet recalculation.
As a special case, time series (ARIMA, exponential smoothing or Holt-Winters) models can be used to automatically generate time series ‘sample paths’ on each trial of a Monte Carlo simulation. This is a great convenience for users building finance and investment models, and other simulation models that include dynamic forecasts.
Use with Microsoft Power BI Amplifies "Self-Service Business Intelligence"
Analytic Solver Platform users can access and work with large amounts of data, from a variety of sources, far more easily than with other analytic software packages – thanks to Microsoft’s recent investment in data access and "self-service business intelligence," which has made Excel much more than a spreadsheet.
With Power Pivot – an Excel add-in based on SQL Server Analysis Services’ xVelocity database engine – Excel functions as a modern, in-memory, multidimensional database, easily capable of holding 100 million rows of data. The Power Query add-in, based on SQL Server Integration Services, provides an exceptionally powerful and easy to use ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) capability for this in-memory database. It can draw data from a huge range of sources, from enterprise on-premise databases to cloud-based public data stores on Windows Azure Data Marketplace.
Excel users can easily summarize, "slice and dice" data from this in-memory database into Pivot Tables on the spreadsheet, but Analytic Solver Platform can draw representative samples of the data directly from Power Pivot, and use this data to ‘train‘ a data mining or predictive analytics model.
Solves on Cloud-Based Office 365 or On-Premise Servers
For the past year, users of Microsoft’s Excel Online in Office 365 have been able to use Frontline’s Solver App, available free in the Office Store, to solve the same kinds of optimization models handled by the Solver in desktop Excel, that Frontline developed for Microsoft. Models are solved using Windows Azure cloud-based servers maintained by Frontline Systems.
Now, with release of Frontline’s Premium Solver App, available via a low-cost subscription in the Office Store, users can solve optimization models up to 10 times larger in Excel Online. And users who have a license to Frontline’s Platform products for desktop Excel can use the Premium Solver App to solve much larger models in Excel Online – up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of decision variables, using plug-in Solver Engines.
Companies who aren’t yet comfortable with cloud-based solutions can run Frontline’s Solver Server on an on-premise Windows server to get the same results. Solutions computed on the server automatically update the user’s Excel model, so that server-based solutions offer the same features (such as sensitivity analysis for optimization, or trial data for Monte Carlo simulation) as desktop solutions.
More Performance Enhancements
Of course, the V2014-R2 release incorporates all the enhancements introduced in Frontline’s previous releases (with three major product line releases in the last 21 months, Frontline has one of the fastest product upgrade cycles in the industry). The Evolutionary Solver now includes both a full set of genetic algorithm based methods, and a full set of methods from the literature on tabu search and scatter search, and it exploits massively parallel GPUs for even faster performance. Users of optimization with uncertainty benefit from the first commercial implementation of the stochastic decomposition algorithm, a highly scalable approach for solving stochastic LP models.
Academic Version and Upgrades for Existing Users Available
Users of existing Frontline Solver products can upgrade to V2014-R2 at no cost if they have current Annual Support. This is a bonanza for users of Analytic Solver Platform and XLMiner Professional, both of whom will receive the powerful data mining upgrade at no cost. Users of Premium Solver Pro and Risk Solver Pro can upgrade to Analytic Solver Pro for the modest difference in price. A new V2014-R2 release of Analytic Solver Platform for Education, the most popular software for teaching MBA students about analytics, is available to universities and featured in new editionsof several market-leading textbooks.
Frontline Systems Inc.(www.solver.com) is the leader in spreadsheet-based analytics software, helping managers gain insights and make better decisions for an uncertain future. Its products integrate forecasting and data mining for "predictive analytics," Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis, and conventional and stochastic optimization for "prescriptive analytics." Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 1 billion spreadsheet users. Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300).