When business analysts are looking for analytics solutions, there’s often a debate over whether to use a desktop-based or a cloud-based software package. Each type of solution has advantages and limitations. For example, a desktop analytics tool is often best for the largest, most complex, long-running models, while a cloud analytics solution gives you the convenience of being able to run models anywhere on any device. 

The enterprise software industry is seeing strong trends toward a “cloud-first” approach. Cloud analytics solutions have become more robust and versatile, while also aligning with information security standards of corporate IT departments. While desktop analytics tools are not going away overnight, the future is in the cloud. Like Microsoft and many other leading technology companies, Frontline Solvers® has embraced a “cloud-first” strategy. 

Fortunately, with Analytic Solver® you don’t have to choose between desktop or cloud. Analytic Solver gives you the best of both worlds: every license includes a desktop and cloud license, at no extra charge.   

Let’s look at the relative advantages of desktop vs. cloud analytics software, and see why “cloud-first” could be the best strategy for your organization’s goals. 

Why Use Desktop vs. Cloud Analytics Software 

There are a few good reasons to use desktop analytics software: 

  • Long-running models: If you are running an exceptionally complex, long-running model that would face CPU time limits with cloud analytics software, a desktop version might be the right choice. 
  • Full capabilities: Some analytics tools are more robust for the desktop version, with fewer capabilities for the cloud. 
  • Security concerns/IT preferences: Some companies might have concerns about information security or licensing that make them prefer desktop tools.  

However, in the past few years, cloud analytics software has become more full-featured. Analytic Solver® Cloud version has all the same features as the Desktop version. And while traditional desktop software was limited to one location, today’s cloud analytics tools are more flexible for business travel and hybrid work. 

Here are a few reasons why Analytic Solver Cloud software could be the right choice: 

  • Same feature set as Desktop version: You won’t miss out on any capabilities by using the cloud version instead of the desktop. Analytic Solver Cloud gives you the same all-in-one features for optimization, simulation and risk analysis, data mining and machine learning, and even business rules. 
  • Ability to run @RISK models: A recent upgrade now enables Analytic Solver Desktop and Cloud users to run @RISK models. @RISK is a Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis model from a competitor that, until now, was only available on desktop Excel for Windows. Now you can run @RISK models in the cloud via Analytic Solver from anywhere.
  • Interoperable with Desktop version: You can create a model in the cloud and run it on your desktop (or vice versa). Both solutions are equally capable and fully interoperable; no need to re-create your work or lose progress when switching between versions.
  • Desktop and Cloud – included in every license at the same price: Other analytics companies charge extra for a cloud-based version of their software, or require you to buy extra licenses. Frontline gives every customer a combined package of the Desktop and Cloud analytics versions of our Analytic Solver. Both the Desktop and Cloud versions are included in every license at no extra charge. 

Why Choose Cloud Analytics?

Frontline Systems understands that some customers and companies prefer to use desktop analytics tools, and we’re going to keep supporting and enhancing our Analytic Solver Desktop COM / VSTO add-in for the near-term future. We will only enhance, not downgrade anyone’s desktop experience.  

However, we believe that “cloud-first” is the right strategy for our cloud analytics solutions, and for our industry as a whole. Our modern Office add-in is called “Analytic Solver Cloud”, but it runs on both cloud and desktop: in Excel for the Web, Excel for Windows and Excel for Mac. It will be the focus of our innovation as we move forward, with more rapid enhancements and special cloud-only features. Learn more about Analytic Solver Cloud technical specs and details.

There are a few big benefits for customers to join us in the cloud.

Access from Anywhere

Companies are using hybrid work models, remote work, and Work From Anywhere, opening more opportunities for business analysts to be productive and access their models from anywhere at any time. Analytic Solver Cloud analytics software can be accessed from anywhere, on any device. All you need is a Microsoft 365 subscription and your password. 

Imagine you’re a business analyst who’s traveling more since the pandemic. You’ve built a model on your desktop, but fortunately you saved it securely to OneDrive. Now you’re traveling for two weeks and you need to access it from the road. With Analytic Solver Cloud, you can log in to the cloud analytics platform from a hotel, from a business center PC, from your work laptop or other approved device, and you can access your model.

Easy Installation (No Installation) 

Due to the rising concerns from information security, enterprise IT managers are becoming more and more uncomfortable with desktop add-ins, since they typically require administrative rights for installation. Many companies limit their employees from installing new software on their machines, resulting in time-consuming installation processes for the IT department. 

Analytic Solver Cloud bypasses this issue, because there’s nothing to install or download. You can access this cloud analytics platform via the Internet, on your desktop or laptop PC and also via a web browser on a tablet or other device. 

Lessons from Microsoft: the Future is Cloud Analytics 

For the past 10 years, Microsoft has been emphasizing “modern Office add-ins,” which are “cloud-first” – served from a web server – and work in both Office for the Web and Office for Windows and Mac. Take for instance the new version of Outlook, which accepts only modern Office add-ins, and no longer supports COM/ VSTO add-ins.

If you’re in a company that wants to plan ahead, it’s important to recognize that sometime in the near future, your desktop analytics solution might be obsolete. It might not happen next month, but it could be next year. 

Analytic Solver Cloud, a modern Office add-in, is positioned for the cloud-first future; it’s fully integrated with Microsoft 365 and the latest versions of Excel for the Web, Excel for Windows and Excel for Mac. COM / VSTO add-ins will be phased out – the only question is when – and that makes a cloud-first strategy more crucial than ever. Future-proof your analytics solution with Analytic Solver. 

Analytic Solver: Best of Both Worlds 

Bottom line: Desktop analytics tools can still provide value and are worth having in your toolbox. But Analytic Solver gives you the best of both worlds: both Analytic Solver Cloud and Analytic Solver Desktop are included in every license for the same price. No other company gives you both of these versions with full interoperability at no extra charge. 

With Analytic Solver Cloud, you can access your models from anywhere and any device, just by logging in to your account. You won’t need admin rights to download software to the desktop, as the cloud version bypasses the issue with nothing to install on the personal computer. And finally, Analytic Solver Cloud helps your team with future planning, by adopting a cloud-first strategy to ensure your analytics tool doesn’t get obsolesced. 

Are you already using the basic Excel Solver? Try Analytic Solver (Cloud or Desktop) for free! Check out our free 15-day trial and see how to maximize Analytic Solver’s extra capabilities.