Thursday, January 25, 2007

Guessing at MapleSoft's strategy for VSNI

In a good start to this year, scientificcomputing.blogspot.com managed to break two world exclusives that have now both been confirmed. The announcement of Maple 11 and the appointment of MapleSoft's Jim Cooper to the board of VSNI.

Looking in more detail at the VSNI tie-in... the press release from VSNI is all very sensible, talking about using Mr Cooper's experience to help grow VSNI. But there is still no clue as to what's in it for MapleSoft to lend out their (presumably) most expensive employee for the benefit of another company, or if its in his own time, why Mr Cooper would want another job.

I now think the idea of shared sales channels seems unlikely, as VSNI have few major resellers that are not already selling Maple and are not, themselves, a large sales force. So MapleSoft must be interesting in accessing the statistics technology and expertise that they currently lack.

It would fit with previous strategy, since little of recent versions of Maple, except for the interface, are created by MapleSoft themselves - they have mostly been assembling parts from other organizations (numerics from NAG and GMP, algebra from INRIA, ORCCA etc) why not statistics from VSNI?

Two key choices would be needed: whether to do lots of work to interface existing data structures seamlessly, or just bolt it on the side and lets the users do the work. And whether to use the existing statistics language design of Maple as a user layer, or to deprecate all of that and expect users to re-write their work in a language more akin to Genstat. If you take the NAG integration as an example, then you could expect a middle compromise on the first, and the deprecation route on the second. Either way, there is enough to do to make this a Maple 13 or Maple 14 feature, not Maple 12!

Whatever the choices, I can see no downside for VSNI, who at the least get some advice from an old hand, and at best might be at the start of a negotiation for a big sale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They should do this. You can't do real statistics in Maple as it is now.