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The Quantrix Development Kit

The Quantrix Development Kit (QDK) is designed for organizations seeking a platform upon which to develop customized applications that improve and streamline critical business processes.  These processes often combine the analysis of historic data with forward-focused modeling and planning, visualizations, “what if” scenarios, and reporting – all with the goal of supporting better decision-making.  Many companies manage existing processes with a combination of enterprise business intelligence tools, databases and spreadsheets and become frustrated with their inherent risks, complexities and overheads.  QDK is ideal for organizations who view scalable modeling solutions as an opportunity to create competitive advantage, as Quantrix-based solutions deliver more accurate and timely insights through multi-dimensional modeling with integrated “live” data. 

QDK-based solutions offer great flexibility for deployments and user access.  Users can work with models using off-the-shelf Quantrix Modeler desktop software or with a secure, customized thin-client user interface.  This is ideal for dispersed organizations and environments where employees work remotely.

QDK is a modular, server-side solution that delivers high performance capabilities for processing, analyzing, and modeling extremely large datasets.  The modular structure enables the application to execute only the features required for the task, thus delivering greater efficiencies and improved performance.  

The Quantrix Development Kit

The Quantrix Development Kit (QDK) is an application toolkit that enables companies to implement customized modeling, analytics and reporting solutions that offer greater capabilities than traditional spreadsheet and business intelligence-based systems.  QDK’s enhanced application interface (API) and modular structure allow rapid development and integration of these solutions within business-critical infrastructure and processes.  QDK provides companies with the opportunity to create focused yet flexible solutions that support more accurate and timely decision-making.   The toolkit leverages the core strengths of both the business and technology side of the organizations by allowing IT to develop customized modeling solutions which are then primarily utilized and maintained by business users.  It empowers corporate technology executives and solution architects to implement QDK-based solutions at all levels of the organization.  

Key Benefits of the Quantrix Development Kit:

•    Runs Efficiently on a Server
QDK serves as the core platform on which entire business applications can be developed.  It delivers the robust performance and centralized access of a server-side solution.  It works more efficiently by loading only the Quantrix modules that are required and can run without the Quantrix user interface.

•    Improved API integration
QDK enables seamless integration with a broad spectrum of business applications.  QDK successfully permits this by exposing extension points, providing full access to the permission system, and enabling bulk loading of data.

•    Combines “Off the Shelf” Technology with Customization Capabilities 
QDK enables organizations to rapidly develop point solutions that address critical business requirements.  Rather than start from the “drawing board”, QDK accelerates development and deployment with a robust, flexible and scalable foundation.  QDK eliminate the need for the usual iterative cycle of business specification and development - saving valuable time, effort and money. 

•    Enables Organizations and Teams to Focus on Core Competencies
Solutions based on QDK empower business analysts to create, maintain, and evolve their own models, analyses, business logic and reports.  Analysts are able to quickly answer time-sensitive questions and deliver models and insights to senior management.  IT is able to focus on workflow, data integration and other technical infrastructure issues; thus, making the most efficient use of skills, time and resources.

•    A High Performance, Transparent Calculation Engine for Business Users
Quantrix logic is written in plain language which is self-documenting and easy to understand.  This differentiates it from other calculation engines, which are complex and require IT resources and programming.  According to one QDK customer, “Quantrix calculations are very effective and enable our end-users to maintain the logic themselves.  They also can build formulas using business terms”.  Quantrix provides high level of transparency, in contrast to other calculation engines which require multiple levels of logic development.  QDK also offers enhanced calculation performance.  For example, one customer’s QDK-based application is able to achieve 10 to 15 complete calculation cycles per server for models averaging between 70 and 80 million cells with a run time averaging between 10 to 20 minutes.

•    Combined Thin Client and Desktop Architecture – Accessibility and Fidelity of Experience
QDK offer the convenience of customized thin client access with the rich user experience only available with desktop applications.  The application allows access to most features using a web-browser, which addresses the users’ need to gain access from multiple locations to slice, dice and manipulate data.  For more intensive use such as design and model changes, users access the model with the Quantrix Modeler desktop application.  The desktop version also gives the users the flexibility to work with models when off-line. According to one QDK customer, the combined solution “has been very valuable. Without the combination of Quantrix Modeler and QDK, we would have not been able to implement a full-scale application.”

QDK Technical Specifications

•    Java-based development kit
•    Plug-in architecture according to OSGI standards
•    Eclipse-standard development environment
•    Solutions developed with QDK frequently integrate Quantrix Modeler with applications such as Java applets, the Google web toolkit, the Java web platform, ETL tools, enterprise databases, and reporting tools. 

Key Characteristics of QDK

•    Modularity – each plug-in publishes its own API
•    Performance – third party calls are made directly against Quantrix objects
•    Completeness – third party developers are working with the same objects / methods used by Quantrix engineers.
•    Flexibility – Quantrix objects can be embedded into other applications, workflows, server processes, etc.

QDK Architecture based on Three Levels

1.    UI – Swing aware user interface level.
a.    Typically runs in Swing thread
b.    Responsible for Transaction boundaries
c.    Manage worker thread operations and progress panel
2.    Core - UI state layer
a.    Plugins aware of generic UI state (e.g. formatting, etc)
b.    Responsible for persisting state and notifying about state changes
3.    Engine – Calculation engine
a.    Plugins only aware of structure, logic and data

Case Study:  Fortune 100 Bank Selects Quantrix Development Kit

A major division of a Fortune 100 financial services institution recently went live with a web-accessible analytics and modeling application based on Quantrix technology.  The Bank’s application was designed to support analysts with much more accurate and dynamic financial projections for the merchant banking line of business.  The projections are critical to the business, as they drive investment decisions by senior management and are included in reports to investors.  The application was developed with the Quantrix Development Kit, a toolkit from Quantrix which enables institutions to rapidly build customized modeling and analytics applications.  The Bank was able to leverage the usability, flexibility and scalability of “off-the-shelf” Quantrix technology while developing a targeted solution that specifically addresses key challenges and needs. 

A History of Quantrix in the Bank

The Bank has been a Quantrix customer since 2005.  The Bank’s real estate fund group, now part of the merchant banking line of business, sought an alternative to spreadsheets for modeling real estate portfolios. The previous spreadsheet-based process included modeling cash flows by investment and by investor, with a waterfall distribution of income calculation and net asset value calculation.  The portfolio comprised an unwieldy set of twenty five spreadsheets with eight million formulas.  The spreadsheet files themselves were approximately twenty megabytes each.  The system was increasingly complex, inflexible and fragile, with even minor changes and updates requiring hours and even days of effort.  Running the models was also time-consuming – often requiring overnight runs to complete the millions of calculations. 

After researching various options, they selected Quantrix Modeler because of the superior flexibility, productivity, error reduction, and ease of maintenance that it offered.  They achieved impressive results.  For example, the group was able to take the eight million formulas in twenty five spreadsheets and re-engineer into a single Quantrix model with 500 formulas.  Additionally, they were able to scale from a one year annual planning model to a three year quarterly planning model.  

The Business Drivers

The Bank wanted to design and implement a solution that would enable broader access to the capabilities and workflows they had become accustomed to with Quantrix.  As such, the technology group was tasked with addressing the control, accessibility and scalability issues associated with desktop software.  They accomplished this by developing a thin-client, server-side application based on QDK.  A key part of the value proposition was that the business and technology sides of the group would be able to leverage their respective core competencies.  Business analysts would benefit from being able to use and maintain their models while programmers in IT were able to focus on infrastructure, data management, and developing custom plug-ins. 

The director had considered options such as Oracle Essbase™, but preferred the business-user friendliness, control and transparency offered by Quantrix.  According to the director, “what sold us on Quantrix was the granularity offered through QDK.  The design of the business logic is in the hands of the business users, while with other applications, the developers would have to code the logic.  With QDK, it also enabled us to mimic many of the key functionalities offered on the desktop but provided the convenient access of a web browser”.

The Future of the Quantrix Development Kit at the Bank

The solution has been rolled out for the real estate investment group with very positive results.  The director states, “Based on early successes, the Bank plans to deploy for private equity and infrastructure next year”.  He also states, “QDK can be a nice fit for additional areas within the bank that perform modeling using Excel but want a thin-client environment”.   

To learn more about the Quantrix Development Kit, please contact a Quantrix representative.

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