Conference highlights, LGC goes GoCad, may ditch UNIX! and Mobil provides TCS update.(March 1998)

Landmark have opted for the GoCad consortium'sgeometry engine for their Shared Earth Model. Closer ties with Microsoft may herald amigration of applications from UNIX to Windows NT, and Mike Marzano describes the progressof Mobil 's Technical Computing Solution implementation.

SEM

The Shared Earth Model (SEM) is all the rage these days (see this month's editorial) and Landmark made an important announcement at the Worldwide Forum in their adoption of technology from the GoCad Consortium as the geometry engine to form the basis of the new SEM. Landmark describe GoCad as the de facto standard for geometry and say that they will work with POSC to accommodate this technology into Epicentre. Landmark claim that "this is not a proprietary development but is adding value to a common standard". GoCad will be embedded in SeisWorks, EarthCube and other applications in the Landmark suite. Tying in to Bill Gates' support for interoperability through COM on UNIX, Landmark are going for tight integration of applications in the fields of drilling, geographical presentation and finance. They are moving towards SAP partnerships - with an in-house implementation of the SAP Human Resource module which will be integrated through COM.

Landmark to ditch UNIX?

Gibson described the OMG's CORBA middleware as defective - claiming that "COM gives greatest portability to integrate UNIX and Java". Over a two-to- three year time frame "we will see incredible improvement in UNIX and MS interoperability in Landmark" Gibson stated. Another rapprochement with Microsoft is in increased deployment of the NT operating system. Landmark have been working on this for a couple of years and conclude that the traditional Wintel architecture is not yet up to E&P computing's performance requirements which are much greater than most industries. New technologies such as the Merced chip and 64 bit NT will change this in the near future. Such that Landmark is planning a big move to NT over the next 3-4 years. Will they ditch UNIX? "There is some uncertainty as to how fast the customers will make the switch to NT" said Gibson.

Immaterial

Some may stay with UNIX for floating point performance. Peebler can foresee a time when the OS is immaterial. Gibson added that Landmark's core competence is keeping their customers on the best platform for them. Bob Peebler pointed out that Landmark actually began on MS-DOS and now runs on IRIX, Solaris and NT. Migration is a "permanent situation - we will still be migrating 10 years from now". With new technology comes new terminology - thus G&G becomes "front office" while SAP is "back office". That is quite a nice picture. Imagine yourself sitting in the shop window interpreting away on your twinhead workstation while the behind-the-scenes accountant meters your mouse-clicks and figures your Christmas bonus.

Mobil TCS Update

Mobil's Mike Marzano presented the 1997 results of their innovative Technical Computing Strategy (TCS). This was planned during 1995 and implementation began in 1997 with the whole system to be phased in over 3 years. One interesting aspect of the project (revealed in PDM Vol. 2 N 11) is the migration to GeoQuest's Finder and Landmark's Open Works Project Data Store. Marzano described this project as "not for the faint of heart - it is not a risk free project". But such a complete change has huge potential benefits, representing "a complete makeover of Technical Computing in Mobil". The makeover includes hardware, software, data systems and support. The rollout program involves planning, training, implementation, optimization and support - through Technical Information Management (TIM) teams. The overall project roadmap is contained in around 20 boxes of paper - only two of which cover software. Most important are workflows with detailed implementation at each site developed with vendor participation. All presented in PowerPoint on the Intranet website.

Identical sites

All Mobil sites are be kitted out with identical hardware and the same directory structure. Just in Time training is offered to users based on company workflows and delivered at training sites equipped with one twinhead workstation for every two trainees. There has been some resistance to training from the "too busy" brigade, but this is usually appreciated once done. 30 man weeks per month were devoted to the project throughout 1997. The project was 9% under budget, while roll out schedule and benchmarks undershot some but Mobil is generally pleased with progress made. Lessons learned include the domino effect of implementation. For everything to work, you need software, training data and so on all up and running at the same time. Working smarter is much more than just software. Mobil are using Geoshare as the link between Finder and Open Works. Initially Mobil asked both Landmark and GeoQuest what was their preferred route for data transfer. They both replied Geoshare!

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