Stirrings from the beast – Microsoft wakes up to importance of E&P computing.(November 1997)

Microsoft is moving in on the E&P ITaction with a push for the hearts and minds of the energy business. The strategicobjective is knock UNIX off its perch and establish Windows NT as the system of choice foroil industry computing.

To the casual observer at the SEG or any other E&P convention, the compute engines that matter all appear to be UNIX boxes. Sun, Silicon Graphics, HP/Convex and IBM all have a substantial presence and are actively promoting their networking capabilities and, in the case of Sun, have an army of tee-shirted individuals offering candy to anyone who knows that Java is not just coffee. On the software front much of the high profile talk is of Java, CORBA, the OMG and other offerings from the UNIX camp. Elsewhere on the exposition floor – as in the rest of the world - the most predominant operating systems hail from Microsoft, but this fact, along with wide deployment of programming tools such as Visual Basic do not get much of a marketing look in. They are not "mainstream" to E&P, and have had little support from a Microsoft with many other fish to fry up till now.

new commitment

All this is about to change, as part of an increased commitment to the energy and utilities industries, MS is launching a new effort designed to "establish Windows NT as the superior development platform for energy application". This initiative involves the formation of a new vertical industry practice focused on the energy and utilities industry. The company also announced that Hillman Mitchell, a 15-year veteran of the energy industry, has been appointed as global energy industry marketing manager heading the new effort.

Mitchell was formerly manager of the Houston Microsoft consulting services practice and before he joined Microsoft, was senior analyst for architecture and infrastructure for advanced process control systems at Conoco Inc. where he also worked as a computer scientist for exploration research in the upstream market.


Mitchell stated that the new unit has been formed "in response to growing customer demand for innovative applications using the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and the Microsoft BackOffice family" with the intent of "globally expanding its evangelism and technical support for independent software vendors and key influencers in the business applications-buying process". One such "influencer" is Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, president of OSI Software Inc. (formerly Oil Systems, Inc.), something of a Microsoft evangelizer himself who described the move to Windows NT as " of the best we have made - we ship approximately 300 new systems per year to companies such as Amoco, Chevron, Mobil, Georgia Pacific, Entergy, Commonwealth Edison and Duke Energy. Windows NT has grown as the choice of our customers from 35 percent of shipments in 1996 to more than 60 percent this year." PDM's editorial this month takes a sideways look at the recent Microsoft initiative and questions whether the UNIX/NT war should really be center-stage in E&P computing, and suggest that Microsoft has more to offer both the user and developer communities from the desktop than from the server.

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