Sebastian Pokutta's Blog

Mathematics and related topics

Does IBM care for CPLEX at all?

with 4 comments

I just got an email from IBM asking me to participate in the Academic Initiative Survey. I participated with the aim to address a few shortcomings with respect to IBM’s support for, and interest in their optimization products, e.g., that it is quite a hassle to download cplex as one has to go through an uncountably infinite number of pages before one actually reaches the download page – if one reaches it at all. Also there were a few other things that I wanted to address.

But guess what. One of the first question was to what academic field one belongs to. Operations Research? Mathematics? nada. That was already a bad omen. And in fact. There were only two references to optimization at all “Linear Programming” and “Integer Programming” in the courses that I teach / want to teach (out of a gazzillion listed including a lot of voodoo stuff). Effectively, optimization and the optimization products were virtually not present at all. Cplex, OPL, OPL Studio and none of the other optimization tools were even mentioned.

This apparent lack of interest raises serious questions about IBM’s future plans for cplex and their optimization products. In particular, questions about continuity and support. Who knows… 10 years ago I would have been really scared as cplex was the strongest industrial strength solver and therefore choice number one in many applications – however times have changed and fortunately there are alternatives now.


Written by Sebastian

March 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I agree — the CPLEX academic initiative is a real nightmare. I have never encountered a more obtuse process for getting software. Even finding the page for downloads (after one is signed in) is amazingly difficult — one has to navigate to some software search page, and search for CPLEX and wade through pages of stuff before finding a bunch of files that look like CPLEX, and then I have to decide if I wanted to just download the files or use download director or some such.

    In contrast, for Gurobi, I only had to login, and click on the downloads I needed.


    March 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

  2. A picture [that] says it all…


    Cognos + SPSS = huge, ILOG = padding.


    March 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

  3. First, while it would be nice if there were a shorter route to the CPLEX download, I didn’t find it all that hard to download (or install).

    As to the survey, and related matters (such as the difficulty finding CPLEX forums if you don’t know the links), ILOG/CPLEX has been going through a process that insiders call “blue-washing” since IBM acquired them. IBM being a large corporation (read: “bureaucracy”), this is going to take a while. I too filled out the survey, and was a bit miffed at first that OR was not on the list. I suspect that list reflects IBM’s experience with Academic Initiative members in the past. Until recently, setting aside their OSL product (which I don’t think has been actively marketed for a while), they have probably dealt mostly with faculty from computer science, IT and business information systems (and perhaps accounting). That’s where their product portfolio mostly lies.

    So I don’t read this as any lack of interest in or support of CPLEX on the part of IBM. I just take it as a sign that IBM’s digestive system works slowly.

    Paul Rubin

    March 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm

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