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Frontline Systems’ RASON Decision Services Enables Collaboration, Governance and Security of Analytic Models

Azure-based platform enables low-code / no-code creation, deployment and management of analytics-powered decision services, combining business rules, forecasting, machine learning, optimization and simulation models; new features support IT and Analytics Center of Excellence efforts in model security, collaboration and governance.

Frontline Systems has released a major new version of RASON Decision Services, its cloud service on Azure, that enables companies – and their IT and Analytics Centers of Excellence – to easily embed ‘decision intelligence’ in activities ranging from annual or quarterly planning to everyday business processes – yielding reduced costs and risks, in fields ranging from manufacturing and distribution to energy, pharmaceuticals, investment and insurance.

RASON, an acronym for RESTful Analytic Solver Object Notation, is an Azure-hosted platform that enables users to ‘publish’, manage and govern analytic models as RESTful decision services, easily update them with new data and solve them, and easily use results in any application that can consume JSON or OData. New “Organization Accounts” in this release offer exceptional security and privacy, and new collaboration and governance features, for firms using Azure with teams of analytic model-builders.

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For model authoring, RASON works by itself or with Analytic Solver, Frontline’s popular Excel-based tool to enable business analysts who aren’t data scientists to build and solve analytic models themselves. Analytic Solver is upward compatible from the Solver in Excel, which Frontline originally developed for Microsoft. For model deployment, RASON works with any web or mobile app that makes REST API calls and consumes JSON or OData – but it’s exceptionally easy to use with Microsoft’s “Power Platform” – notably Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate and Dynamics 365.

“We’re enabling organizations to ‘use, but move beyond Excel’, easily deploy analytics in the cloud, and govern both data and models – leveraging both Excel modeling skills and Azure security features”, said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO.

RASON plus Analytic Solver is a complete “decision management suite” that supports the full range of business rules, forecasting, machine learning, optimization and simulation methods, from small models to large, multi-stage analytics workflows. But unlike other platforms that require extensive implementation consulting, six- to seven-figure budgets and year-long deployment schedules, Frontline’s tools enable a company’s own staff to get results in months, by leveraging what they already have: business expertise and Excel skills for model creation, modern low-code/no-code tools such as Power Apps and Power Automate for model deployment, and Office 365, Dynamics 365, Common Data Service, OneDrive, and CData’s Cloud Hub tools for data management. By leveraging OData standards, RASON enables easy use of analytic model results as data – a key idea.

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Leveraging Azure Security and Performance

Like most cloud-hosted, multi-tenant systems, RASON manages accounts for users from many different organizations in a common Azure Storage Account, isolating each user’s models and data from other users based on their RASON sign-on credentials. RASON leverages Azure data encryption in motion and at rest, Azure ‘vaults’ for database credentials, and OAuth-based API tokens for all users. And RASON’s Azure-based CPU resources are shared across many users, yielding economies of scale.

Organization Accounts for Collaboration and Governance

But some organizations desire an even higher level of isolation and control over analytic models. For them, new RASON Organization Accounts offer the “best of both worlds”: the security of a single-tenant system, with the CPU resource sharing advantages of a multi-tenant system.

  • All of an organization’s models are maintained in a separate Azure Storage Account, owned and controlled by that organization. Data access credentials use the organization’s own Azure vaults.
  • Users are authenticated via the organization’s own Azure Active Directory, and their roles and permissions to use RASON models are governed via Azure Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).
  • IT or central analytics staff can grant roles and permissions, and create shared model “containers” to support collaboration among modelers, or “development”, “test” and “deployment” scenarios.
  • Users who login to Frontline’s portal will find it easy to see and use only the models and containers (personal and shared) for which they are authorized. And deployed applications making REST API calls to RASON have only the permissions granted to the model builder.
  • Scale economies are still realized, since RASON’s shared Azure-based CPU resources are used to execute analytic models, business rules and decision flows. Yet all persisted information exists only in the organization’s own Azure Storage Account.

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