STEM newsletter

fSTEM is coming

30 July 2004

fSTEM is coming. It’s true – soon you will be able to use STEM for free! Well… sort of. To be launched at the STEM User Group Meeting on 22–23 September, fSTEM will be a new service aimed at the academic or prospective user. This non-confidential, Web-based service will provide run-time copies of the models a user creates such that the models can then be run through any range of numerical inputs. Structural changes will require re-submission.

Using fSTEM to create run-time models via the Web

The aims of fSTEM are two-fold. Firstly we are keen to provide access to this much-in-demand modelling platform to the inquisitive and hungry minds of telecoms engineers and business students. A few recent trials suggest that STEM is an ideal platform for helping a student understand the interaction between networks and business performance.

In addition, fSTEM will allow prospective commercial users to experiment with the software directly without waiting for a formal evaluation licence. The fSTEM client will be available to download from the Web so that a user can get started straightaway. And when they are ready to invest in a commercial licence, their existing model files will carry over directly into conventional STEM.

The price? The terms and conditions will insist that the service is not for commercial use, and the submission form will transfer to Analysys the intellectual property rights of any uploaded model. The service will only process models of limited size (the precise threshold yet to be determined), and Analysys will reserve the right to use statistics about the service and portions of individual models for marketing purposes.

Of course, the hassle of working with models via the Net won’t match the immediate performance of the commercial product, but then there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Creating and running network business models with fSTEM

The user will download and install a local software package much like a demonstration system. Whereas our standard demo will only run official demo models endorsed by Analysys, the fSTEM client will also run copies of the user’s own models as authorised by the fSTEM service. So the user will create models just like any other STEM user.

The fSTEM Web service is required to authorise a model for running. After logging into fSTEM, the user will be presented with a personalised upload page which will also list the models they have previously uploaded. For a model called TEST, for example, three files must be uploaded – TEST.DTL, TEST.DTM and TEST.ICP – together with a mandatory comment for future reference and version control.

fSTEM upload page (prototype)

Note: In a future update, we may add functionality to submit a model directly from the STEM Editor on the user’s desktop. We may also provide the facility for users to request copies of previous uploads, but this will be on a read-only basis.

Subject to the built-in size limit, our server will then generate a so-called run-time copy of the model and return this to the user via email. This run-time model will have a fixed structure and may be run on an unlimited basis by the user with varying input assumptions. The user may subsequently extend or alter the structure of the model, but then a new run-time copy of this modified model must be generated by the fSTEM service.

Run-time model email delivery

Technical support may be provided at Analysys’s sole discretion, but users will generally have to rely on existing FAQ resources.

fSTEM will use the latest version of the STEM software and users will have to install updates to the fSTEM client software from time to time for compatibility with server-generated run-time models.

Registering for fSTEM online

We will soon add a link from the home page which will lead into fSTEM. A welcome page will describe the service, and there will be links to printable instructions for the first-time user (including directions on how to install the necessary software) as well as the detailed terms and conditions.

As a minimum requirement for providing access to the service, Analysys will require a prospective user’s name, phone number, email and reason for registering for the service, as well as their company/university, department/course and position. (We might call people on registration and prior to providing access to the software, and would reserve the right to discontinue access if for any reason we were unable to contact them at a later date.)

fSTEM registration page (prototype)

As part of the registration process, the user would read and confirm having read the full terms and conditions, and agree to accept these terms upon registration. The registration form would include a link to our standard privacy statement. A password would be emailed upon acceptance, and a user’s ID would probably be just their email address.

Giving something back to keep using fSTEM

fSTEM users will be required to submit within three months of registration, and every three months thereafter, a credible 600-word summary in English of their fSTEM applications (such as could be reproduced in the STEM quarterly email newsletter), including relevant illustrations of model structure and results. This is a reasonable quid pro quo for using the service and should quickly foster an online community ready to share experiences and tips with the software, not to mention their suggestions to the developers which will be of direct benefit to commercial users as new ideas are assessed and refined into future releases.

Analysys will reserve the right to discontinue a user’s access to the fSTEM service without notice and without explanation for any reason not limited to the following circumstances:

  • Analysys believes that the service is being exploited for the user’s commercial gain
  • Analysys believes that the security of the password has been compromised
  • Uploaded model descriptions or quarterly summary of activity are withheld or judged by Analysys to be inadequate or in anyway false or misleading
  • Analysys is unable to contact the user via the registered contact details.

Pay as you go?

It is possible that this free service could be extended into a commercial STEM-lite™ product where models could be authorised on a confidential basis for a suitable credit-card fee. However, this arrangement would penalise minor structural alterations of the sort that experienced modellers will recognise as the everyday fare of modelling. Therefore it is likely that, at the very least, some form of incremental change monitoring would be necessary to determine a fair interval for repeat charges.

We hope that you will enjoy fSTEM. Please click here to advise us of your interest and we will email you when the service is launched.

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