Maximal Software makes the MPL Modeling System. MPL allows analysts to develp linear, mixed integer and nonlinear programming models with a great deal more ease than in classic solver systems like CPLEX, Excels Solver, and a whole host of optimization systems. What makes MPL atractive is that its simple declarative format is intuitive and yet interfaces well with all the major commercial optimization engines – easing not only problem formulation but also database input and report writing.
The screenshot above shows the modeling language with the asociated Database Connection dialog. If you go to the website, there are extensive tools and online tutorials explaining all the ins and outs of using MPL. Maximal has been doing this for 5-6 years, well ahead of the curve on training through the Web. In addition, MPL has a free trial downoad with complete solver including the CPLEX and CONOPT engines. And finally, the company leads in providing support to the Operations Research and management Science communities.
Now why is this important ?
For two reasons. First, the business that MPL support, linear and nonlinear optimization is becoming ever more important in the economy. Organizations use optimization methods all over the place. Oil and gas companies to run the best posible mix through their oil refineries. Airlines at the brink of banruptcy help to stave off the worst with optimum staff and resource schedules usng optimization methods. Ditto for increasing parts of production scheduling and distribution. So optimization is increasingly vital in not just in operations of many busines but also in the BI-Busines Intelligence and planning efforts.
And that is the second reason Maximal is of interest. The critical processes of BI are optimization and whats-best procedures that Maximal helps BI analysts do. Maximal is primarily a Windows shop though versions are available for Unix. But the key vulnerability is that a War is going on in the BI field that is placing Maximal and the 3-4 dozen other optimization firms on the endangered software company list. In order to make their free BI stacks even more attractive – Microsoft, IBM and/or Oracle could buy out one or two of the major players in Optimization – and Maximal is but one of about a dozen. Then they give away the optimization software for free in a BI Stack that helps sell the respective database. Most of the optimization companies that are not bought out will slowly wither and die unless they are able to to transform themselves into Open Source or primarily consulting and service firms.
This policy of bundling and free giveaways is going to change all the major software markets from license for a fee markets to service and consulting with the software only one part of the total package that IT SoftServices companies deliver. And as Paul Harvey would have said – “that is the rest of the story”.