Frontline Solvers V2015-R2 Offers Excel Users Easy Access to Apache Spark Big Data Clusters, Microsoft Power BI Dashboards

Share Article

New software product line release features links to Apache Spark and Microsoft Power BI, plus Data Mining and Forecasting, Text Mining, Monte Carlo Simulation and Risk Analysis, Conventional and Stochastic Optimization, and Publishing to Excel Online and Google Sheets.

XLMiner Platform accesses Apache Spark cluster

XLMiner links to Apache Spark

“We’re giving business analysts who aren’t data science PhDs easy access to Big Data, plus the tools to use that data in the most advanced analytic models.”

Frontline Systems is shipping a new product line release, Version 2015-R2 of its Solvers for Excel, including its flagship integrated product, Analytic Solver Platform, and its "professional entry-level" integrated product, Analytic Solver Pro.

The new release enables users, for the first time, to ‘pull’ sampled and summarized data into Excel from compute clusters running Apache Spark, the open-source software widely embraced by Big Data vendors and users, and to ‘push’ the results of analytic models into Power BI, Microsoft’s new online tool for data visualization and reporting.

The release also includes new versions of XLMiner Platform, the leading tool for data mining and text mining in Excel; 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 large-scale conventional optimization; and subset "professional entry-level" products Premium Solver Pro, Risk Solver Pro, and XLMiner Pro.

“Our message was and is ‘no-compromise analytics in Excel’,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “Now we’re giving business analysts who aren’t data science PhDs easy access to Big Data, plus the tools to use that data in the most advanced analytic models.”

Upward Compatible from Excel Solver, works with Excel 2016 Preview

Frontline’s Solvers for Excel are upward compatible from the Solver included in Excel, which Frontline developed for Microsoft, and improved in 2010 and 2011. 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. V2015-R2 works with Excel 2016 Preview edition, and will be updated as needed for the final release version of Excel 2016.

With powerful “plug-in” large-scale Solver Engines, including the Gurobi Solver, XPRESS Solver and KNITRO Solver, users can solve linear mixed-integer problems with millions of decision variables, nonlinear problems with hundreds of thousands of decision variables, and many of the largest risk-based stochastic optimization problems that have ever been solved, on any platform.

Sampling and Summarizing Data from Apache Spark Big Data Clusters

The new release includes a built-in client that ‘talks to’ a Frontline-supplied server program that runs within an Apache Spark cluster, communicating with the Spark master and worker nodes. Business analysts can access Spark data through a simple point-and-click user interface, with no programming expertise in Java/Scala, Python or R required.

By drawing a representative sample of Big Data from all the nodes in the cluster, Excel users can easily train data mining and text mining models directly on their desktops. By drawing summarized data such as sums, counts and averages of certain variables, grouped by other variables, Excel users can obtain just the data they need to drive simulation and optimization models.

Visualizing Analytic Model Results in Microsoft Power BI Dashboards

The new release also includes a built-in client that ‘talks to’ the new release of Microsoft Power BI –currently in public preview and preparing for general availability. With as little as one click, business analysts can ‘push’ data such as final values of decision variables and constraints from an optimization model, or summary statistics, risk measures and percentiles from a simulation/risk analysis model, into their Power BI online accounts.

With a few more point-and-click steps in Power BI, users can obtain insightful visualizations that simplify communication of results with managers and stakeholders. And it’s straightforward to ask questions, change assumptions, re-run the analytic models and update the Power BI visualizations.

Publishing Optimization and Simulation Models to Web-based Spreadsheets

In this release, Frontline has further upgraded users’ ability to move from the desktop to the cloud. Since mid-2013, users of 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.

With V2015-R2, users can easily publish optimization and simulation models to Excel Online or Google Sheets, and solve them in the cloud with Frontline’s Solver and Risk Solver apps / add-ons – up to the maximum size permitted by their desktop licenses. And they can store their models in Office 365 or SharePoint 2013, OneDrive or OneDrive for Business, or Google Drive.

Behind the scenes, Frontline is now using its powerful, scalable RASON Server and its REST API on Microsoft Azure to solve models for the Solver and Risk Solver apps / add-ons. The RASON Server can be used by other software developers as well – free developer accounts are available at https://rason.com.

Academic Version and Upgrades for Existing Users Available

Users of existing Frontline Solver products can upgrade to V2015-R2 at no cost with current Annual Support. Frontline has created a special program to enable faculty members in MBA programs to introduce their students to Big Data with realistic hands-on exercises, without requiring a big investment of money or time, by sharing use of Frontline's Apache Spark cluster on Amazon Web Services. Interested faculty may contact Frontline at academic@solver.com.

The Power BI client is included in each of Frontline’s Pro and Platform products. The Apache Spark client is included in Frontline’s four Platform products; with sampling functionality in XLMiner Platform.

Frontline Systems Inc. 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).

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Daniel Fylstra
Follow us on
Visit website