COM for Energy technical evangelists 'agnostic' (September 1999)

COM for Energy technical evangelists 'agnostic'

PDM attended the COM for Energy public meeting in Houston this month. As forecast, the core technology to be deployed is still a subject for debate. Jon Lewis described C4E as being technologically "agnostic". "We have become more agnostic in our choice of technology and are focused on data exchange and not the integration of applications" was the message Jonathan Lewis, president of Com for Energy (C4E) and Landmark's board member, told an overflow crowd in Houston this month. Current C4E's "proof of concept" specs are XML-based but every process will be "approached individually". It may be XML here, COM there, and may be Java in some other instance. The specifications will be technologically agnostic, implementation "is where you gets your religion".


Whatever their final flavor, C4E specs will be open and public, vendor members will cooperate on the specification of data exchange objects that will "make work processes more efficient" and compete on the implementation of these tools. Lewis told the audience the name of the organization should not be technology specific and suggested changing it to "Objects for Energy" - but this received little support from the object purists in attendance. Questions were also asked as to the interplay with Open Spirit. Is C4E duplicating Open Spirit? Not really Lewis claimed, Open Spirit is aiming for objects that are interoperable, COM4E is "focused on data exchange". In fact, the holy grail of interoperability has proved elusive. Some companies have given up hope on "best of breed with plug and play" and, instead, are realizing the gain to be had by being a one vendor shop.

Oracle joins C4E

August brought Oracle into the C4E fold. Its hard to imagine an organization that boasts as founders Landmark and Schlumberger, ESRI, Microsoft, Oracle , SAP, Price Waterhouse. What prize brings these odd fellows together in "co-opetition"? Mark Lochmann, board member for Schlumberger GeoQuest, reported on the organization's efforts to define a meaningful registration and certification process. Vendors register their use of the published specifications, but not just that a product has "C4E inside"! Certification by C4E should mean that the ‘object’ works as advertised. Sounds good but who is going to pay for all this work? Mark Lochmann estimated it would take $250-500,000 a year to staff a team dedicated to the registration and certification process. Details are yet to be finalized.

proof of concept

Lewis described a proof of concept demonstration (performed by Kris Givens of Schlumberger GeoQuest) involving data exchange between Landmark's well design software StressCheck and casing inventory and pricing information from a SAP business materials module. The two software packages did not interoperate, they communicated with each other through a XML document format especially designed for this work process. The message-based exchange allowed the casing program to be optimized to take into account casing price and availability. Dollar values for costs and saving were displayed as the program was being designed.


Microsoft’s Technical Evangelist Ravi Manikundalam made a pitch for how the open C4E specifications could be implemented. Manikundalam discussed the shortcomings of IDL (CORBA, DCOM), EDI, even XML, to conclude that the Biztalk Framework was the answer although some felt that BizTalk was too closely associated with Microsoft for an open spec.


The first official meeting of the C4E members is slotted for October 1. Membership fees range from $2,500 to $25,000 per annum depending on corporate revenues. Oil company advisors - like girls in a speakeasy - get in for free! More info or to sign up -

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