February 1998


Big shake out at Petrotechnical Open Software Corp. (February 1998)

POSC is losing its initial sponsor fundingwhich will be phased out and replaced by a new fee structure. Project selection andfinancing is also revised in a three tier structure of maintenance, joint industryprojects and private 'Joint Industry' projects which may not enter the public domain.

A new business plan and radical changes in fee structure were announced at the Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation (POSC) Member Meeting held in London this month. POSC's initial oil company sponsors were paying $500,000 US to support POSC. This is to be scaled down significantly over the next two years. In 1998, a year of transition, sponsors and the top membership category will be required to pay a total of $300,000 each. In the following year, the top rate for POSC membership will fall to $125,000 and the sponsor category will be eliminated. From then on all members of POSC will have the same rights and pay membership fees on the same sliding scale. At the other end of this scale, the $1,000 per annum fee charged to companies and consultants with revenues less than $1,000,000 per annum is eliminated. From now on, consultants will be required to pay a $5,000 annual fee. The counterpart of the new funding scheme is to be increased democracy in the running of POSC, with all board members voted by all the membership.

perpetual

Bertrand du Castel (Schlumberger) one of POSC's directors at large described the initiative as an attempt to "align commercial aims with funding model". Du Castel further described the need to "keep to the original ideal of POSC but with a perpetual sustainable membership based on a funding model corresponding to value received". Concomitant with the new funding, there are significant changes in the way projects are selected and financed. POSC's $5 million annual budget is now divided into three tiers :

The first involves the maintenance of existing standards such as Epicentre. POSC's copious information program and meetings will also be funded from this category whose growth is to be controlled by POSC management.

The second tier - new common projects - involves research projects whose results are open to all members. POSC membership will define projects of common interest and set mid to long-term objectives. These projects will be funded by interested members and the results may migrate to tier 1 after approval by POSC membership.

Tier three covers projects that benefit from direct funding from groups of members, and whose results will not necessarily be put into the public domain. These Joint Industry Projects (JIP) may even be revenue generating and will not necessarily migrate to other POSC tiers.

consultancy

Another facet of the new business plan is that POSC will increasingly have to look for its own projects, acting as a consultant for its members - or possibly third parties. This may lead to some complex situations where POSC is actually competing against its own membership. Some see the elimination of the lowest category membership fee as part and parcel of these changes. The demography of POSC has changed a lot over the years and it is now dominated numerically by software companies (none of the initial sponsors were vendors). If some of the smaller outfits find it hard to come up with the extra $4,000 - or even harder to finance the special projects that might be of interest to them, then there probably would be few tears shed by their larger brethren.

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Petroconsultants EDGE revamps IRIS21 (February 1998)

Previewed in PDM last September,Petroconsultants Energy Data Graphical Explorer (EDGE) is to be launched this month. EDGEis a Geographic Information System (GIS) front-end to Petroconsultants flagship databaseIRIS21.

In addition to the rejuvenated front end, EDGE makes use of new technology from ESRI. The Spatial Data Engine (SDE) provides a sophisticated indexing system for geographical data stored in a relational database. EDGE is intended to extend the life of the IRIS21 data model pending the introduction of a new model incorporating elements of IRIS21 and PI/Dwights P2000 data model subsequent to the merge of these two companies (PDM Vol. 3 N1). The business driver behind the development of EDGE comes from Petroconsultants' 50 plus major oil company clients who have been clamoring for a rejuvenated version of IRIS21 for some time.

spatial index

The introduction of the new spatial indexing system from ESRI has caused concern over data base performance. In theory, the speed of retrieval of data could be paid for in the overhead of performing the complex indexing on new data as it is loaded. Petroconsultants report that for their typical work-loads of around 500 wells per week the overhead is minimal. Even higher density data types have been loaded in reasonable time with 1000 concession boundaries loading in around 2 minutes.

EDGE incorporates three components

a fully populated data model : the EDGE data server comprising the spatial data model (SDM) for location and Shape data and the application data model (ADM) for textual attribute data.

a customized ArcView project : the EDGE application itself, a map based browse/query program.

data loaders for IRIS21 clients : the software to transfer data from IRIS21 to the SDM and ADM models (in-house synchronization software).

The majority of Petroconsultants' clients use their data as one component of an overall E&P data management strategy with multiple data sources on a wide variety of platforms. Typical use involves a sub-set of data from IRIS21 which is extracted via the Ad-Hoc reporting system, transferred and then loaded into another system. This at times has proved to be a time consuming solution. EDGE sets out to change this by allowing clients to access multiple data sources within the same application, thus avoiding the overhead of moving data around the network.

leverage

EDGE further leverages Petroconsultants' bread and butter datasets by invoking the potential of an Intranet/Internet based document/database/GIS browser. EDGE is said to be "ideal for the quick, global overview of the data" as it offers the capability to display all Petroconsultants data on a world map, illustrate with simple thematic maps, and download a limited amount of data to spreadsheets. Furthermore, specific tools for company and historical analysis tools have been added to assist in tasks like competition analysis. EDGE also offers all the capacity to accomplish in depth analysis by using standard and customized ArcView tools. GIS developers in oil companies are offered the SDE "C" functions or Map Objects a development kit for PC developers using Visual Basic or Delphi.

CAD client

While EDGE can produce desktop quality maps it is not intended to replace a full blown professional mapping tool. However, it can be used as a source in ESRI’s ArcInfo. An alternate solution would be to use CAD client (an ESRI extension to the SDE) to make the EDGE data model Microstation compatible. The EDGE database contains all Petroconsultants spatial data ranging from the Geodata sets (coastlines, bathymetry, rivers, pipelines, field and basin outlines, administrative boundaries and reserved areas) and the IRIS21 data sets (wells, licenses, surveys, Fields). The EDGE application allows visualization and printing of the Field and Basin images, previously delivered in paper copy. The packaging of the product is similar to the IRIS21 packaging. It includes the data (Oracle Export files), ESRI software (SDE, ArcView), the Petroconsultants software (Synchronization software, ArcView Extension), documentation and an installation guide/procedure.) Other EDGE features allow for the transfer of data from IRIS21 and Microstation into third party formats such as Landmark’s Open Explorer. Alternatively third party software such as ArcView, MS Office (Excel, Access) and Business Objects can plug directly into the production systems and benefit from a live data feed.

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PDM Editorial - Compliance, the Loch Ness Monster! (February 1998)

PDM's editor Neil McNaughton attended a ratherrare event at the POSC London member meeting, a POSC meeting on the old chestnut, or LochNess monster that is 'compliance' (the last was in May 1996!). He wasunderwhelmed by the progress made in what should be a critical area for the standardsorganization.

We had just brainstormed our way through compliance and decided - well I was not very sure what had been decided, the sinking feeling was now accompanied by severe head scratching. This unpleasant state of mind and body came from the realization that it was impossible to come out with a simple statement on what should be done to achieve and monitor compliance. Despite the collective wisdom of the POSC enthusiasts present, it was not even possible to come near to an agreement on what compliance meant. All this against the backdrop of the major vendors claiming that their products are "fully compliant" with POSC's "specifications".

PPDM approach

At the PPDM AGM last year a similar discussion took place, but with PPDM management proposing specifications that would make a product PPDM compliant (PDM Vol. 2 N 11). PPDM's definition of compliance was based on metrics such as the number of "pure" PPDM tables in a data model. Call it simplistic if you like, but it is a definition. What of POSC? There is not even agreement as to where to start. Recent developments in POSC's board structure make it fairly clear that the idea of standardization at table and row level of a "definitive" implementation of Epicentre is dead. No shrink wrapped Epicentre now - we are now definitely stuck on a higher plane. But where in the multi-tiers of the POSC agenda will the common ground be found. At the DAE level - as originally believed. Or with business objects - and if so with whose? Open Spirit or POSC's. And if it is to be objects - then what will be the granularity of the standard - one could go on questioning but that is not the point. The point is that today, POSC have no idea as to how compliance can be achieved, and without compliance there is no interoperability and without interoperability - there is no raison d'tre for POSC.

POSC takeover

I'd like to offer a possible explanation for this state of affairs. POSC was set up by big oil companies. They were soon joined by an ever increasing number of software vendors. To the extent that, at this month's London meet, oil company people were outnumbered two to one by vendors. On the corporate plane, there were three times as many software companies as oil companies present. The recent changes in POSC governance largely reflect this demographic change; POSC is fast being taken over by the software vendors. It is therefore not very surprising that the ground rules have changed. That the focus for a vendor is interoperability through a proprietary API - preferably their own.

DMA

If I may make a suggestion then POSC needs more vision than is evident in the status quo. If we are to remain within the initial remit of POSC - in other words within the general area of Epicentre, then the only hope for interoperability is in a fully specified DAE with compliance testing of products against this. The workings of the Document Management Alliance (DMA - see article in this issue) would tend to suggest that this is possible if the middleware comes from a major vendor - and although the DMA is not out of the woods, it makes for a credible business model. How would this map across to POSC? Well I'm not sure. What is clearly required is a sequence of actions that will lead to the establishment of specifications, compliance, testing and branding. Without this there really is very little point in continuing. Finally I guess I owe an apology to the software vendors for doubting their claims for POSC compliance. I now realize that you are all "fully compliant"- with nothing. My humblest apologies!

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POSC supplier workshop - Landmark Graphics Corp. (February 1998)

Following GeoQuest's presentation at the firstsupplier workshop in Dallas last November it was Landmark's turn to show proof of'full compliance' at the POSC London member meeting this month. Just likeGeoQuest with GeoFrame, Landmark are migrating OpenWorks to 'full POSCcompliance'.

There is to be one POSC-derived data model throughout OpenWorks building on POSC projects such as SAVE, RAMP WIME, RESCUE and IPP. John Sherman, Landmark's VP Data Management described OpenWorks 98 as a POSC compliant release in terms of it's Logical Layer, Access and Exchange, Reference Tables, CGM/PIP, and the domain specific subsets described above. From now on all changes and revisions to OpenWorks will be Epicentre compliant. Unlike other vendors (who could they be talking about?) Landmark uses "Open Projections" from the above mentioned sub-setting projects. Future domains will integrate results of WIME and RESCUE. Since Landmark's master database Open Explorer uses the same data model as OpenWorks this POSC work is leveraged to Open Explorer. Note that the compliance here is at the level of the tables and rows of the physical data model but the OpenWorks logical model is said to be "converging" to that of Epicentre. The ultimate aim is for OpenWorks to become a subset of Epicentre but this needs to be done through incremental change in order to "keep the applications with us" (a similar position was reported recently by GeoQuest see PDM Vol. 2 N 11).

Discovery reborn

Readers of PDM may be surprised to see Landmark's use of the results of the Discovery project in OpenWorks. We have previously reported the failure of this project to come up with an acceptable convergence of the POSC and PPDM data models. We stand by this. While Discovery may have allowed Landmark to stick a "POSC inside" logo on their software, it has not been a success to date elsewhere and has no general currency either with POSC or PPDM.

Blue Marble

Cartography has been re-vamped using a projection of Epicentre while cartographic code from Blue Marble "under the hood." Other benefits from Epicentre include Units of Measure, which now pervade OpenWorks and POSC reference values. Looking to the future Landmark is very excited about the roll out of Oracle 8 which will ship in the next major release of OpenWorks. Oracle 8 promises significant improvement in the handling of bulk data. Object extensions should simplify projection process although it is considered a pity that Oracle have not implemented inheritance in their object model.

6 months loading

Landmark's new found position as fervent advocate of all things POSCian may come as a surprise to regular readers of PDM and indeed Sherman put the foregoing into context with a few caveats. Firstly, Landmark's clients' requirements are often such that performance is a very critical issue. One Western Canadian client required population of OpenWorks with 300,000 wells at one go. This was to have taken 6 months loading until "non-compliant" direct access to the tables was implemented. These techniques bypass the API, DAE and everything. "This is a generic problem. You cannot solve this from the model standpoint" Sherman stated.

A largish Landmark site may involve 100 GB of well log data and 10 M shotpoints. Client requirements are typically for sub second load time and sub millisecond access time per entity. Currently a read of 5 well logs/sec is perceived as too slow as is a load of 15s/log. Questioned on the preferred entry point to OW - the politically correct DAE or the proprietary although "free" API. Sherman pointed out that the DAE type access was too low level for most programmers and consequently Landmark recommends and supports the API entry point.

Epicentre Data Link

Landmark have developed a bi-directional, pushbutton link from an Epicentre datastore to OpenWorks. A GIS basemap is used to initiate transfer with views to both Epicentre and OpenWorks. A Theme is created in both and data for transfer is selected. ArcView Avenue code is used to invoke the link. Transfer can be performed from the GIS or in a batch processes running overnight. Topics included in the link are - well header, stratigraphic unit, directional survey etc. LGC have "put this product together in a vacuum" and are asking for expression of interest from POSC members. Is there anyone out there with an Epicentre database who would like to hook it up with OpenWorks?

Open Explorer

Generally Landmark appear to be victims of the success of the global vision provided by Open Explorer. Whereas in the past clients would build local or semi-regional projects in OpenWorks, they are now making more intensive use of their data. In the North Sea, Landmark clients are building seismic maps of the graben, or in US inputting 10 million wells at once. This led Sherman to drum home the message about performance. "No one is interested in POSC per se! It is just a means to get there faster better and cheaper". Landmark's requirements must equate to the pressure from users to integrate applications and provide large scale data model coverage. The data model "must be accessible by common mortals" and ad hoc queries (straight to the tables and therefore deprecated by POSC) will always be necessary.

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OpenWorks development kit to be available free on Internet. (February 1998)

As of April 1998 the OpenWorks development kit(API) will be made freely available to third party programmers to develop plug ins to thisenvironment. You may need to acquire some third party software - such as an Oracle license- to make this operational. Note also that this is not strictly speaking a POSC compliantentry point into OpenWorks development environment. The OpenWorks API exposes higher levelobjects than the POSC Data Access and Exchange middleware (DAE). DAE type access isconsidered too low level for most E&P programmers (hence POSC's Business Objectsinitiative). The OpenWorks API exposes objects of a more suitable granularity and are saidto be more manageable by the E&P developer.

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OpenWorks deemed world leader in data management (February 1998)

Sherman stated that Landmark is the 18thlargest software company in the world and very successful in the field of E&P datamanagement. Quoting a study from Pohlman and Associates, Sherman described OpenWorks asthe 'most widespread data management system in E&P'. According to Sherman,OpenWorks is installed at 850 sites world-wide and has sold 6000 individual licenses. Over30 third party applications plug and play with OpenWorks.

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PESGB makes SEG-Y workstation friendly (February 1998)

Jill Lewis of Troika, speaking at thePetroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB), gave a progress report on thePESGB's attempt to re-define the SEG-Y format in a more workstation friendly manner (PDMVol. 2 N 9).

Lewis described SEG-Y as an "incredible success story - still going strong after 23 years of use, and capable of recording anything from a single 2D line to a large 3D survey". In view of this the PESGB group was not intending to fix what wasn't broke, but rather to specify a revised format and appendices to the specification. The revision makes use of the general SEG-Y structure but adds specifications to allow

Data loading direct to the workstation

Databasing of seismics

Multiple lines per reel

Data type independence from major workstation vendors

Media type independence.

Concerning the latter point, the new format intends to be used for non-tape media and is specified as a general byte-stream format which can be used for data on disk. In general the modifications have been categorized as "codifying existing practices". Indeed SEG-Y has been the subject of planned revisions for a couple of years now, but SEG efforts to re-vitalize the format have so far failed. It is hoped that the PESGB work will be adopted by the SEG as the definitive revision of SEG-Y. More information from troika@troika.demon.co.uk.

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CDA revised vision & Progress report (February 1998)

Common Data Access (CDA) the UK's nationaldata repository has re-defined itself and issued a revised statement of its new vision.

CDA's intent is to become the recognized UK body for Petrotechnical data management, providing "complete and comprehensive, quality-controlled and quality-assured data services to the industry through integrated, distributed data stores with centrally administered entitlements catalogues". This is to be achieved within a five year time frame. A definite encouragement for many UK operators is the fact that storage of data with CDA will fulfil a company's commitments to the UK government (DTI) with respect to technical data reporting and retention under the UKCS licensing and other regulations. CDA will extend it's scope beyond geotechnical data, to encompass production data, subsurface data and any petrotechnical data that is potentially shareable. Roles are clarified with CDA responsible for data security and participating companies responsible for the quality of the data they own. In a pointer to future "virtual" data stores, CDA does not intend to centralize all petrotechnical data physically, but rather to make maximum use of existing data repositories, linked through a common inventory and entitlements system. Additionally CDA plans to link to other national data repositories.

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Urgent Project (February 1998)

The tortuously acronymed User Reference Groupfor Emergent Technologies (URGENT) will be the focus of a one-day forum in London on the10th March 1998.

The URGENT project is an European Commission funded venture intended to "help the IT industry produce better software for E&P line professionals" or alternatively to define "the impact of radical business and technological innovations on the key processes for valuing asset portfolios (prospects, reserves)". All of which is to be achieved by a heady mixture of Business Process Reengineering and Role and Interaction Modeling as a preamble to the application of Business Object technology to a Shared Earth Model. The meeting intends to :

propose how E&P companies business processes will change over the next 5 years.

Give guidance on the types of IT/IS products and services that will be required to support these new ways of working, and point out some of the deficiencies of current solutions on the market.

Seek YOUR input on these proposals. 

Members of the URGENT Project Team, come from Agip, Norsk Hydro, Statoil, PDS, Paras, The Information Store and TNO. Preliminary results from the URGENT project suggest that "..by 2010, prospects will be fully explored with a single well, and exploration and production will be a single integrated process ..." More info from urgent.project@pds.nl.

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Mapping Magician aids data migration (February 1998)

IBM Norway have developed an automated processfor moving offshore construction data from legacy systems to the POSC/CAESAR data model.

In the parallel universe of offshore construction, it is the CAESAR data model that holds sway rather than the upstream's Epicentre, although the CAESAR model is also confusingly termed POSC/CAESAR. Significant progress has been claimed by IBM in the difficult task of migrating legacy data to the CAESAR model. Recognizing that using the CAESAR data model is not for the faint hearted - requiring considerable expertise in manipulating the exotic Express-X data modeling language, IBM Norway have automated the process of converting data from existing systems to the CAESAR data warehouse. The business driver behind such data modeling is to offer all involved in the construction and maintenance of the platform access to the same validated dataset. On Norway's pioneering Varg, Asgard and Visund (VAV) project, proponents anticipate a reduction in the time needed to construct and certify an installation of up to six months.

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Odegaard and PetroSoft to team (February 1998)

Working on the cutting edge of geophysics -the calibration of seismics to lithology - seismic specialist Odegaard is to team withStanford spin-off PetroSoft to offer high tech modeling for AVO and reservoir description.

San Hose (CA) based PetroSoft Inc. is to link up with Odegaard A/S - best known for their OSIRIS synthetic seismogram software. PetroSoft is an outgrowth of the Stanford Rock and Borehole Geophysics (SRB) Project headed by Amos Nur. PetroSoft began as a research project to create a convenient rock physics software application. This application became known as PetroTools. Development of PetroTools software (for the Unix workstation platform) was guided and funded by a group of 20 major exploration and production companies. Now the software is available to all interested parties. There are currently over 150 copies of PetroTools world-wide in about 50 companies or organizations. PetroTools is intended for anyone doing seismic modeling, amplitude versus offset (AVO) interpretation, seismic production monitoring, or reservoir description. The recent hook up with Odegaard is intended to offer integrated computer modeling of complex structures which should be particularly applicable to the analysis of deepwater plays such as the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil and West Africa. In all these areas, AVO effects are said to be a challenge to accurate seismic interpretation. Copenhagen-based Odegaard is to become an official reseller of the PetroTools suite which will allow Odegaard to offer this technology alongside its own OSIRIS seismic modeling package. The companies intend to forge closer software links in the future.

AVO

Kim Gunn Maver, deputy managing director of Odegaard said "The cooperation with PetroTools means that we can tie advanced petrophysical modeling data from well log information to our own seismic modeling software. It should provide companies with a powerful new option for evaluating complications in seismic interpretation such as AVO effects." The linkage of OSIRIS and PetroTools allows petrophysical information such as sand shale ration, porosity and saturation obtained from logs to be tied directly to seismic data via seismic modeling. OSIRIS seismic modeling offers full 3D elastic waveform modeling for 1D models. Up and down going P and S waves can be separated and anisotropy estimated. More information from PetroSoft on info@petrosoft.com and Odegaard at +45 35 26 60 11

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Fieldbank - Epicentre based gravity and magnetics database (February 1998)

Potential field specialist Ark Geophysics, inconjunction with the British Geological Survey has developed an Epicentre-based data modelfor gravity and magnetic data. This is to be marketed as a combined software, services andrepository package called Fieldbank.

Speaking at the recent SMi E&P Data Management and Data Repositories conference, Kitty Hall of Ark Geophysics Ltd. described gravity and magnetic data as an important hydrocarbons exploration tool and a cost effective supplement to seismic data. These data types often get short shrift in terms of data management with tapes maps and reports "scattered in drawers and filing cabinets, accessible only through the historical knowledge of one or two long serving members of staff". A joint project between the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Ark Geophysics sets out to rectify this situation with the development of FieldBank (Potential Field Data Bank).

ARK and BGS are both members of the Petrotechnical Software Corporation (POSC) but when the project started, there was no open data model for gravity and magnetic data. Neither data types are described by the current release of Epicentre or the Public Petroleum Data Model (PPDM). BGS and Ark worked with Petroleum Exploration Computer Consultants (PECC), Elf Aquitaine and POSC to extend Epicentre to incorporate potential field data. These extensions were applied to PetroVision, CGG/PECC's flagship Epicentre data base.

PetroVision extended

The project was funded in part by the UK Department of Trade and Industry and the extended model will be released next year. Data is populated in two ways. Maps, text files or grid data can be stored as a potential field "object" as in a document management system, with meta data about the object stored in PetroVision. Or the new PetroVision extensions can be populated with the potential field data itself. The Epicentre part is modeled using Express I, but FieldBank uses an English language interpreter above which simplifies loading

Currently this level of population realized down to the gravity or magnetic profile level - a "track" in FieldBank parlance, somewhat easier to get your tongue around than the corresponding Epicentre nomenclature of "two dimensional geometry set". No particular format is implied for objects, which can be scanned images of Bouger maps, text files with values along profiles, observers logs or grids of data. Essentially, the metadata is stored in Epicentre, but the bulk data is store in its native format. But FieldBank is more than just a data model.

Data repository

The BGS is the custodian of the National Geoscience Archive, with hundreds of thousands of line kilometers of airborne, land and marine data from all over the world. FieldBank is to be run like a data repository with clients accessing on-line data through an entitlements index. When complete FieldBank will represent a world wide on-line data bank for gravity and magnetic data. An index of navigation data is viewable by all subscribers while the actual data is restricted to those entitled to view or extract it. Data from many countries has been loaded into FieldBank, much of which is available for trade or purchase. This approach enables subscribers to trade and share data between each other as well as to access public domain data and non-exclusive data. FieldBank also provides the loading of static views of a company's datasets as Web pages which can be browsed over the Internet and also loaded to the company's own Intranet for ease of access. This enables users to identify useful data before using the on-line connection to make further investigations and perhaps to download some lines or grids. Requests for trades with other companies or speculative data purchases can be initiated and compilations or maps requested. More info from the FieldBank website on http://www.fieldbank.com.

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PetroData Acquires PGS GeoData Services A/S (February 1998)

Following the acquisition by Hays InformationManagement of the remastering unit of Tape Tech Norge (PDM Vol. 2 N 11), PetroData AShas taken over the remainder of the unit - essentially the remastering and other servicesprovided by the Stavanger office of the old TTN.

PetroData was foundation in 1994 and has been operating the Norwegian National Data Repository Diskos under contract from the Norwegian Petroleum Directory and 16 Norwegian operators. PetroData's purchase of PGS Geodata Services, means that all activities, personnel, equipment and current contracts are transferred to PetroData and will become an integrated part of the PetroData services. PetroData will "become a leading provider of integrated data management services to the Norwegian petroleum community". PetroData is two thirds owned by PGS Data Management with IBM holding the remaining equity. The position of the PGS group as both buyer and seller means that from the corporate front this deal is largely an organizational change. Kjell Arne Bjerkhaug - PetroData's managing director told PDM that this change was significant in that it offered improved service levels to PetroData's clients and prepared the way for imminent changes in the management of the Diskos project with an increased commercial focus.

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Document Management Alliance spec approved (February 1998)

The Document Management Alliance (DMA) - astandards body seeking to provide interoperability between document management systemsfrom different vendors (PDM Vol. 2 N 6) has just released version 1.0 of theirspecification for interoperability.

The DMA specification enables vendors to build document management applications and systems that provide "reliable, security-controlled search and retrieval capabilities to documents stored throughout the enterprise". In addition to document search and retrieval, DMA-compliant products will provide a framework for other common document management functions, such as document creation, editing, version control, check-in/check-out, and security. The newly specification includes support for:

Searching for documents across multiple DMA-compliant repositories - in a single query - based on document properties

Ordering of search results

Searching for documents in a single DMA repository based on their content (a limited content-based retrieval capability)

Document version control, including check-out and check-in capabilities

Browsing of version histories

Folder creation and deletion

The Document Management Alliance (DMA) is both an organization and a specification. The DMA specification defines software component interfaces that enable uniform search and access to documents stored in multi-vendor document management systems. The DMA organization includes more than 60 user and vendor companies working together as a task force of AIIM to define interoperability specifications that meet the requirements of enterprise document management systems.

PDM comment - while the grass does tend to look greener on the other side of the fence, it is interesting to see how the DMA has achieved interoperability with such apparent ease. Firstly documents are pretty straightforward objects to start with and hence fit the paradigm of object oriented software engineering better than something like an "oilfield". Secondly the division of labors within the DMA seems to have been carried out without too much looking over the shoulder. Xerox has done the job of producing the middleware and others, such as FileNET, Napersoft and Eastman Software (Kodak) are plugging into the specification with DMA compliant products. It sounds too good to be true.

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POSC evaluates compliance in breakout session (February 1998)

At the London member meeting POSC examined thethorny issue of compliance in a breakout/brainstorming session. Contrasting views ofcompliance were expressed.

Hamish Wilson of PARAS opined that compliance was irrelevant if the ultimate goal was interoperability. The focus was therefore that software should inter-operate through a standard Software Integration Platform (SIP) - with all products tested against this. If they work on the standard SIP, then they are POSC compliant. POSC's role should be to create and maintain the SIP as technologies evolve. The problem of evolving a working business model for this remains. Why should vendors co-operate after all and what could be their motivation for such cooperation? Jean Paul Marbeau (CGG PetroSystems) described compliance as POSC's "sea serpent" and said that it would remain so as long as there was no clear idea of what it should be. Marbeau questioned whether new business drivers might emerge "as we approach interoperability through business objects".

Mandated

Ian Shaw from BHP asked what the value of compliance would be to a) software companies and b) oil companies. Shaw pointed out that some companies mandated compliance from their suppliers today. BHP's particular requirement is for a standards-based vendor-independent data store. Shaw asked "how do we know what we are buying is what POSC offers?"

Other opinions expressed during the breakout session were

"POSC compliance today doesn't mean anything".

"Branding and or compliance should not be a barrier to take-up."

"No one can afford to migrate whole product suite at one fell swoop."

The different requirements of National Data Repositories, Corporate Data Stores and Project Data Stores could lead to a hierarchy of compliance. The conclusions of the meeting were that the objective of compliance is multi-vendor interoperability through open standards. The critical path to achieve this is through specification to testing and implementation. POSC specs are not currently tight enough for branding. POSC are to form a team to look at the compliance issue

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