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Optimisation Service Provider


Optimisation models are widely adopted in a number of industrial sectors including finance, supply chain planning, agriculture, and energy distribution. Optimisation is used as an analytical engine for competitive advantage in these and other sectors. Further, the adoption of an optimisation solution often requires a investment in technology, time, and staff, typically available only in large organisations. Recently there is a growing requirement for the use of optimisation by a wide range of companies leading us to OSP which:
1. Allows the use of optimisation tools without the significant cost of an in-house optimisation solution;
2. Provides vertical, generic and customisable end-user solutions for a number of industrial sectors;
3. Extends 1) and 2) by providing training through an ASP service.

OSP contributes to the community in two distinct ways. First, it extends the concept of ASP to include decision support applications. Second it includes training which is a critical factor for the use of optimisation by a wide user-base, that may not have the key expertise and/or resources to adopt optimisation for competitive advantage.

We aim to develop an optimisation environment and offer it as an Application Service provider (ASP) solution. ASPs rent the use of business applications, which they implement, customise, and out-host for multiple end-user organisation and charge on a "pay as you go" basis. By adopting the ASP model, and by adding further value to it in the form of optimisation-based analytic engines, we define an enhanced approach, which is an Optimisation Service Provider (OSP). This is a breakthrough in the provision of decision support applications, and is in agreement with key action IST-2 "new methods of work and electronic commerce". Our approach transforms organisational use of operational research models and software tools. OSP achieves the IST objective of e-work, providing organisations with the choice to either use optimisation tools and develop and maintain their own models, or to use generic solutions and customise them to match the organisation's applications.

Work description:
Four industrial sectors are targeted. JSS and UNI will coordinate, and collaborate with MIR and BWB to develop generic analytic engines, respectively for:
A) asset and liability management;
B) logistics and supply chain planning;
C) energy distribution and;
D) agricultural and environmental planning.

NTC will coordinate and collaborate with GIP and BWB in the development of an ASP package for making available the analytic engines over the Internet. All three SME proposers will coordinate, and collaborate with GIP, MIR, and BWB to implement the crucial link of integration between the analytical engines and the ASP. All partners will bring their expertise together to develop the training packages. The work of this project is grouped into eight (8) closely coupled workpackages involving:
1) preparatory actions;
2) development of generic solutions for A, B, C, D;
3) acquisition and configuration of essential infrastructure for OSP;
4) interfaces for customising A, B, C, D, applications;
5) connectivity with existing IT infrastructure;
6) development and implementation of ASP packages with the generic solutions;
7) training packages;
8) project management.

The technical work of the project is dominated by workpackages (2) through (5), which taken together constitute the OSP solution. Workpackage (7) adds to the value of OSP by training and knowledge transfer such that end-users can fully exploit the potential of OSP. The management workpackage (8) oversees the internal as well as the external aspects for the project and effectively knits together the SME proposers and the RTD performers. Internal aspects such as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) exchange and project tasks completion are closely monitored. From the external viewpoint the vital business issues of market research and competition analysis and "product packaging," and the definition of the financial plan and exploitation strategy are effectively planned and managed.

The SME proposers undertake market research, development of a financial plan and exploitation strategy, and project management. RTD performers undertake the development of the Optimisation Service Provider solution.
The project milestones are set as:
1. Development of customisable optimisation solutions for supporting short-term and long-term planning and management;
2. ASP integration with the outcome(s) of (1), leading to OSP;
3. Development of novel training techniques for supporting OSP.
On completion of the project the following deliverables have been completed:
1) Portfolio Planning web based analytical engine
2) Supply Chain Planning web based analytical engine
3) Agricultural Planning analytical engine utilising web-services
4) Web based optimisation modelling tools
5) Web based optimisation solving engines
6) Multilingual web based training packages

Please note that due to the difficulty in attracting end users/evaluators from the energy sector the development of the web based analytical engine for energy planning and distribution has been abandoned. On the other hand, we have enhanced the originally planned training material with a multilingual flavour. More specifically, we have developed training packages in Greek, French, Italian, German, and English. Finally, the agricultural sector decision support system has been modified to experiment and develop a platform that allows agricultural planning through the use of web services technologies.


1St Floor, Dometo House, Molesey Road
KT12 3PW Walton On Thames
United Kingdom

Participants (6)

United Kingdom
12 Uxbridge Road
W7 3PP London
Via Ampere 56
20131 Milano
Goettelmannstrasse 17
55130 Mainz
United Kingdom
21 Normandy Street
GU34 1DD Alton
10, Rue De Bocage
92310 Sevres
6 Chemin De L'oree
77920 Samois Sur Seine