Oracle 8i object technology core of new interoperability initiative. (February 1999)

Oracle is back into the fray with Project Synergy which will offer E&P technologists professionally developed 'shrink-wrap' versions of two of the main industry data models; POSC Epicentre for the upstream and POSC/Caesar for facilities and construction. Both models are to be supplied as plug-in 'Cartridges' for Oracle's latest 8i database.

After a period of apparent quiescence (we thought they were through with the upstream) Oracle are back big-time. Partnered by Chevron and Statoil, Oracle will be working on Project Synergy which it is claimed "will allow oil industry E&P co-venture partners and newly merged oil companies to share disparate business-critical data and monitor asset performance quickly, easily and collaboratively". The secret weapon in Oracle's armory is the new Internet - enabled database, Oracle 8i and Java. Through new "business intelligence" capabilities developed by Oracle and other applications vendors, oil companies will be able to make "better informed business decisions, dramatically shortening the time between investment and return".

Balanced Scorecard

In addition to the two data models from POSC and POSC/Caesar, Synergy will incorporate other products specific to the E&P industry as well as Oracle's horizontal resource Strategic Enterprise Management Suite including the 'Balanced Scorecard', acquired in 1998 from Graphical Information, Inc. Andrew Lloyd, who heads up the Synergy project within Oracle told PDM "Balanced Scorecard is a means of driving the business through a number of internal and external metrics. Synergy adds the energy content to these tools by focusing on collaboration and sharing between the different disciplines." See the exclusive interview with Andrew Lloyd inside this issue of PDM.

POSC support

Assisting in the development of Synergy is the ubiquitous PrismTech - who will be chipping in with the Open Spirit interoperability framework - and POSC. Donald L. Paul, vice president of technology and environmental affairs for Chevron Corporation said "Chevron has long been committed to industry standards and open computing architectures that will provide interoperability between applications and platforms from different vendors. Project Synergy provides Chevron the opportunity to participate in a commercial implementation of the POSC specifications, using advanced computing architectures and Internet technologies developed by Oracle."

Back to basics

Recently the trend has been away from the humongous central database, a move which perhaps reflects an admission of defeat more than anything else. Project Synergy sets out to rehabilitate the central data repository. The complex transactions involved in collaborative projects, joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions "will be simplified through the ability to base critical business decisions on common, shared data residing in a single repository, regardless of the application". Added attractions for future Synergists will be the various other horizontal cartridge-based technologies including Spatial, Imagery, Time Series, and Text Management.


Epicentre was a ground breaking development at its inception and implemented some technological solutions which were very innovative. Up to now, the deployment of the complex Epicentre model using conventional relational databases has proved problematical. The new object extensions to Oracle 8 will allow for the development of a database more in line with the original intent of Epicentre. Oracle claim that Oracle 8i makes a faithful, object-relational deployment of Epicentre a reality. This will be achieved by taking the Express code used in Epicentre and POSC/Caesar and convert it into the more generic Unified Modeling Language (UML) beloved of today’s object zealots.


PrismTech’s Epicentre Builder will be integrated with Oracle’s Designer 2000 to aid in the conversion. Another facet of synergy is to offer developers Enterprise Java Bean components rather than the more traditional C++/SQL interfaces. A move to the latest web programming language Extensible Markup Language (XML) is also mooted. This will allow self describing data structures to be created and accessed by different vendors – yet another route to the grail of interoperability. Products developed under Project Synergy are expected to be in beta test within six to twelve months, and will be marketed through Oracle Energy. Meanwhile PDM offers its readers the first of a three-part primer by Nigel Goodwin of Essence Associates on the technology under Synergy's hood - Epicentre and the POSC/Caesar data models.

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