Oil ITJ Interview—John Sherman

John Sherman reveals what’s under the hood of Landmark Graphics’ Decision Space next generation of E&P software—and updates us on ASP, 64 bit computing and Linux.

Oil ITJ—How is Landmark positioning its new Decision Space applications?

Sherman—Decision Space (DS) is Landmark’s next generation software—beyond Seisworks, ZMap etc.—but still running on the OpenWorks database. Think of DS as a new set of horizontally integrated, workflow-centric suite of components.

Oil ITJ—All the old ‘point apps’ like SeisWorks will become DS?

Sherman—Yes, but for instance Power Model will replace StrataModel plus some features from StratWorks 3D—avoiding complex upscaling workflows. ‘Project Houston’ will replace SeisWorks, StrataWorks and ZMap early next year—although this is not a ‘throw the switch’ process. Landmark’s flagship products get the lion’s share of R&D funding and still have five years of life and support left in them. But certain features which users have been requesting for some time will be easier to achieve in DS.

Oil ITJ—What technology platform underlies DS?

Sherman—DS is written in Java and is portable across operating systems. The services layer is built on SQL NET, Java Services and lightweight middleware. The windowing technology is based on object-oriented software and business oriented graphics—rolling in a lot of geoscience knowledge along with the Java graphics API. This sophisticated solution is all accessible through the DS API devkit.

Oil ITJ—Who is using the devkit?

Sherman—Oils with niche software components and contractors developing for them. Software that plugs into OpenWorks can share data with DS, although true workflow integration will require the dev kit. There are some interesting demos at the Forum—like the Grid computing demo on the VIP booth—and DS data management demo of live update of data in other windows like decline curves on new simulator runs.

Oil ITJ—Changing subjects – where are you with application hosting today?

Sherman—El Paso, Anadarko and others are already on board. ASP works well for all applications except those making heavy use of 3D graphics. We are working with IBM on 3D ASP to provide ‘cube-spinning’ 3D graphics for tools such as GeoProbe, OpenVision and EarthCube.

Oil ITJ—Where are you on 64 bit computing?

Sherman—A great topic! First, the 64 bit Intel Itanium 2 does not run 32 bit apps well—maybe 6-8 times slower than a Pentium! To get Itanium speeds you need to re-code—a big effort for flagship apps. There are also issues with graphics cards which offer superb support for high end apps like Magic Earth on 32 bit Linux. We will be offering GeoProbe, Promax and VIP on the Itanium later this year—all running in 64 bits—but we are to an extent waiting on graphics cards.

Oil ITJ—How will you maintain the differential between high-end SGI solutions and the new 64 bit Linux workstations?

Sherman—You still cannot match large scale SGI systems on any other platform—this really is state of the art computing. Also SGI is moving on and out to Linux. Neither Sun nor SGI will stand still. Sun is offering low-end 64bit clusters. Another fact is that as Intel moves to 64 bits, it is leaving the commodity market behind. The 32 bit environment was riding the game graphics wave—this will not be the case for 64 bit. Today a very performant solution is Sun’s Enchilada Blade workstation running Red Hat Linux. This is very popular with the major oil companies who need 64 bit.

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