PDM Interview – John Gibson, Landmark (June 1999)

John Gibson, Landmark’s Senior VP of technology tells PDM of the close relationship with Microsoft, what the Shared Earth Model means to Landmark and how component technology is helping Landmark minimize its development costs.

PDM – At last years WWTF, the talk of the show was the greeting from Bill Gates. How is the relationship with Microsoft shaping up, and what has come of the promise of COM for UNIX?

Gibson – We have been working with Microsoft for 2 1/2 years now to find common ground on issues such as file management and graphics requirements. The relationship between Landmark and NT is now similar to that with Solaris – Landmark influences NT evolution for instance by pushing for 64 bit computing. We are also making the case for inter-operability to Microsoft, although COM for UNIX is being downplayed. It turns out that there are less industry drivers for this (even in E&P) than was thought.

PDM and what of Linux, will it have an impact on, E&P IT?

Gibson – we are following developments, but we do not really believe that it will be successful. Linux lacks cohesion - just like UNIX, it would be good if it was a real standard.

PDM At the WWTF there were some quite different views expressed as to what is meant by the Shared Earth Model, what does it mean to you?

Gibson – Landmark is ‘obliged’ to talk about the SEM from a marketing standpoint, but if everyone means has a different definition, then the SEM doesn't mean anything! To Landmark, the SEM involves the following,

Common geometry and topology. .

Data storage of earth model

Integration through objects

Workflow at high level

Many different geometry engines exist, and Landmark could have gone it alone, but the feeling was that goCAD was the industry leader, with tens of companies, sponsors and hundreds of developers. Another view of the SEM is as a single tool set - with applications hitting the common geometry, with the ability to work ‘scale-less‘. We need the same storage, geometry and objects for all users.

PDM – John Sherman has stated that Landmark have tried Business Objects and found them wanting. What is your opinion?

Gibson – It is not an easy subject. First there is the problem of granularity - objects either too large or so small that they don't perform. Next both Objects and Analysis have to be performed together. We tried this with a generic fault object - it didn't work because it was necessary to tune the object for different applications. Performance is the critical issue - he or she who tweaks best wins.

PDM so Landmark does not believe in component-ware?

Gibson – on the contrary, we are great believers in components - providing they are horizontal and supplied by external providers. Following a request from Exxon for robust, extensive handling of coordinate systems Landmark has adopted Blue Marble Graphics software for OpenWorks. Likewise ESRI components are used for the GIS front end of OpenExplorer. Landmark could have done this but that would have been the dumbest thing I could do. We use horizontal technology just wherever we can, Oracle, goCad and the graphical widgets from INT. You could say that Landmark is an integrator of horizontal components.

PDM – Such as COM for Energy too? How did that initiative begin?

Gibson – Landmark sat down with the Halliburton ‘mothership’ to determine strategic directions for software development. We did this by analysing Halliburton’s business as well as their clients businesses requirements. Halliburton naturally had lots of data from logging operations and SCADA measurements, and were deploying SAP software to maintain inventory and contract databases. On the Landmark side there were DSS and TOW c/s. The following potential scenario emerged - an alarm goes off from filed operations. What do you do next? You should be able to go to the operations database to see if anything has been done to the well recently - say it’s gone off-line for maintenance or a pump change. Lets assume the operations database shows nothing, then you go to facilities in TOW C/S - (ex Brown and Root) and notice that the pump is down. Next you go to SAP’s global database, supplied with data from the pump manufacturer to check for similar failure on this type of pump. Such possibilities are extremely important to people buying a lot of pumps! A lot of money is invested in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, but it is Operations that really triggers the value proposition of ERP. To get back to the original question, why COM for Energy? All the above software typically runs on NT - data is passed around and maybe passed back to suppliers. Such software typically uses familiar drag and drop functions to request more information about a product all of which are mainstream COM type developments. COM for Energy is an attempt to standardize some of this behavior and to improve inter-operability in the context of PC-based applications.

PDM – Is OpenWorks Landmark’s Shared Earth Model?

Gibson – Yes! We want to be able to populate the up-scaled model using geostatistics or geological analysis. Or put a thin section from a reservoir core on a StratWorks map and to use the human brain to correlate.

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