Contact: Dan Fylstra
INCLINE VILLAGE, NV -- April 27, 2007 -- Frontline Systems, the leader in spreadsheet-based optimization, has entered the market for spreadsheet-based simulation in a big way with its new Risk Solver™ for Excel. Risk Solver is the first new 'industrial strength' tool for risk analysis of Excel models, using Monte Carlo simulation, to appear in at least 15 years -- in a market that has been dominated by two products, Decisioneering's Crystal Ball® and Palisade's @RISK. Users can see how Risk Solver stacks up by downloading a free trial version at www.solver.com.'Risk Solver is a new-generation risk analysis product, designed with the power of modern PCs and Excel 2007 in mind,' said Daniel Fylstra, President of Frontline Systems. 'It's faster and easier to use than the traditional products for risk analysis in Excel 2007. But it also brings this power and ease of use to everyone using Excel 2003, XP and 2000.'
Simulation Becomes Interactive
Unlike Crystal Ball and @RISK, which are designed for 'batch' simulation, Risk Solver supports Interactive Simulation -- enabling Excel users to play 'what if' with uncertain values as easily as they do with ordinary numbers. Each time a user changes a number on the spreadsheet, a simulation with thousands of trials is performed -- often in no more time than a single spreadsheet recalculation -- and the full range of simulation results and statistics may be displayed. Risk analysis requiring many steps in Crystal Ball or @RISK happens almost instantly in Risk Solver.
'Risk Solver provides the easy to use, lightning-fast Interactive Simulation in Excel that I've envisioned,' said Dr. Sam Savage, president of AnalyCorp, consulting professor at Stanford University, and a noted authority on Monte Carlo simulation. 'It has the potential to do for uncertainty what the spreadsheet did for numbers.'
Proven PSI Technology Key to Speed
Risk Solver uses Frontline's Polymorphic Spreadsheet Interpreter (PSI) technology to achieve breakthrough simulation speeds -- thus making Interactive Simulation practical every time a user changes a number on the spreadsheet. Risk Solver is typically 10 to 20 times faster than @RISK, and up to 100 times faster than 'Normal Speed' in Crystal Ball. 'Extreme Speed' in Crystal Ball, which is based on PSI Technology licensed from Frontline Systems, matches Risk Solver in speed -- but uses the old 'batch' oriented simulation approach rather than Interactive Simulation.
Modern Ribbon-Based, Context-Sensitive User Interface
Unlike Crystal Ball and @RISK, which have adapted an old-style, toolbar-based user interface to Excel 2007, Risk Solver was designed from the ground up with the new Ribbon-based graphical user interface in Excel 2007 -- and all of Office 2007 -- in mind. Yet it still works fluently with Excel 2003, Excel XP or Excel 2000. Users can select probability distributions and statistics from dropdown galleries that work just like the galleries in Excel 2007. They can click, drag and drop to create a formula that computes a statistic or risk measure for an uncertain function.
Even without the Ribbon, editing a risk analysis model is easier and faster in Risk Solver. Just hovering the mouse over a worksheet cell is enough to display a mini-chart of simulation results. And double-clicking a cell displays a full-featured dialog with statistics, charts and graphs.
Support for Probability Management Concepts
Unlike @RISK and Crystal Ball, which have different, proprietary tools for sharing probability distributions, Risk Solver supports an 'open standard' for publishing and using Certified Distributions -- part of the emerging discipline of Probability Management in large organizations. Risk Solver directly supports Stochastic Libraries, on the Excel spreadsheet and in Excel VBA.
Stochastic Libraries hold pre-generated sequences of Monte Carlo trials, prepared and 'vetted' by experts, and made available to end user modelers. They offer the key ability to compare and roll up results of simulation models created by different users in a large organization -- part of the practice of Coherent Modeling in Probability Management. Current versions of Crystal Ball and @RISK have no support for Stochastic Libraries or Coherent Modeling.
Breakthrough Power for Simulation Optimization
Unlike @RISK and Crystal Ball, which support only one proprietary form of simulation optimization, using very general but exceedingly slow optimization methods (scatter search and genetic algorithms, respectively), Risk Solver integrates closely with Frontline Systems' market-leading Premium Solver Platform -- giving users access to twelve of the world's best optimizers for every class of problem, and solving simulation optimization problems up to hundreds of times faster than the traditional products.
'Simulation optimization with Risk Solver and Premium Solver is far faster and more robust than with Crystal Ball or @RISK,' said Daniel Fylstra, President of Frontline Systems. 'But this is just the 'tip of the iceberg.'
Frontline Systems has a stream of technology coming that will revolutionize the way these problems are solved -- enabling users to solve larger problems, and obtain better solutions, than they've ever dreamed possible.'
Runtime Engine Empowers Application Developers
Unlike Crystal Ball and @RISK, which require every simulation model user to have the menus, toolbars, dialogs, and scores of files needed by a full simulation product, Risk Solver comes with a special 'runtime package,' Risk Solver Engine.
Packing everything developers need, including over 80 new Excel functions and a complete VBA object model and application programming interface, into a single distributable file, Risk Solver Engine makes it easy to develop custom risk analysis applications, 'lock them down' if needed, and deploy them to end users. Uncertain inputs or 'random variables' can be defined either with functions such as PsiUniform() and PsiNormal(), or with PsiSip() and PsiSlurp() functions that access Stochastic Libraries. Property functions may be used to specify correlations between random variables, shifting and truncation of distributions, and the like. And statistics functions such as PsiMean() and PsiPercentile() can be used to access simulation results -- instantly when the worksheet changes.
Risk Solver Engine's VBA object model provides high-level Problem, Model, Solver, Variable and Function objects, with easy-to-use properties and methods. It is highly compatible with the object model supported by the Solver Platform SDK, Frontline's leading toolkit used to develop simulation and optimization applications in a programming language outside Excel.
Industrial-Strength Features Distinguish the Leaders
Crystal Ball and @RISK have shared the market for many years with various other Monte Carlo simulation products for Excel, such as XLSim, RiskEase, RiskAMP, and others. The two traditional leaders, though higher priced, have far larger shares of the market than these other products. A major reason is that they offer many 'industrial strength' features needed by advanced users, such as rank-order correlation of dissimilar probability distributions, 'filtering' of Monte Carlo trials for errors, built-in fitting of distributions to user data and simulation results, sensitivity analysis, and customizable charts and graphs.
Risk Solver is the first product to offer this full range of 'industrial strength' features in its first release, putting it on a par with, and in several areas ahead of, Crystal Ball and @RISK. Risk Solver offers 40 different analytic probability distributions, twice as many as Crystal Ball and comparable to @RISK. It has advanced features for 'filtering' and examining Monte Carlo trials compared to the other products, giving users a key advantage: An easy way to create conditional distributions. It makes rank correlation 'fully transparent' to the user, unlike Crystal Ball and like @RISK, and it offers more aids for defining rank correlations than either product. It can fit discrete as well as continuous probability distributions, unlike Crystal Ball and like @RISK. It has built-in sensitivity analysis and Tornado charts, like the other products. And its customizable charts and graphs are highly flexible, yet very easy to use compared to current releases of the other products.
Pricing, Academic Versions, Free Evaluations, and Future Versions
Risk Solver V7.0 is priced at just $995 for a single user license in the U.S., plus required first-year annual support. A special $190 credit is available to users who purchase Risk Solver V7.0 and Premium Solver V7.0 at the same time, bringing the total software license cost to just $1,550. Academic users can take advantage of deeply discounted prices for research and teaching use. Annual support brings users free upgrades to new Risk Solver versions -- and Frontline has, for many years, delivered new and improved versions of its products almost every year. "Users who have 'gotten on board' with our program of rapid improvements have been richly rewarded in the past, and we expect the same for Risk Solver," said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline Systems' President. Prospective users can download a fully functional, full capacity and speed, free trial version of Risk Solver V7.0 (limited to 15 days) at Frontline's Website www.solver.com.
About Frontline Systems, Inc.
Frontline Systems, Inc. (www.solver.com) is a leading developer of optimization and simulation software, and the leader in spreadsheet optimization software that helps analysts and managers optimally allocate scarce resources - money, equipment, and people - to realize substantial cost savings. Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 400 million spreadsheet users.
Founded in 1987, Frontline is headquartered in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Risk Solver is a trademark of Frontline Systems, Inc. Crystal Ball is a registered trademark of Decisioneering, Inc. @RISK, while not a registered trademark, is the name of the popular risk analysis product from Palisade Corp.