Chevron moots object database

An object database from Objectivity may soon underpin Chevron’s Architecture for Refinery Real-Time Interoperable Systems (ARRIS). Mike Brooks outlines Chevron’s real time problem set.

The upstream tried object databases unsuccessfully back in the 1990s with notably POSC’s Epicentre database, originally slated for deployment on HP’s ObjectSQL or UniSQL’s SQL/X. But, judging from a Chevron/Objectivity webinar this month, it looks like the technology may be resuscitated in the oil and gas vertical—with a shift in focus on federating disparate existing databases rather than building great big new ones.


In the webinar, entitled, ‘The plant of the future: achieving actionable information through data design,’ Mike Brooks outlined Chevron’s Architecture for Refinery Real-Time Interoperable Systems, ARRIS, and showcased Chevron’s problems in supporting refining, primarily in developing new business process workflows and decision-making in the space between control systems and Planning/ERP systems. Brooks wants to stimulate vendors ‘to fill the space with competitive products.’

Decision support

To link management systems, SAP, Historian and sensor data, decision support needs to ‘live’ above everything else. One workflow addresses the fact that there are many new ways to trade intermediate products. Chevron can sell more lube oil than it makes, leading to a complex, changing supply chain, where there is money to be made by optimizing supply dynamics of water, hydrogen, sulfur etc.


Brooks is convinced that ‘yesterday’s tools will not fix today’s problems,’ that relational databases, SQL and ETL technologies are ‘far too restrictive’ and an obstacle to the composite workflows. Chevron wants to federate multiple data sources, to manage metadata in real time and support composite queries across assay, equipment and maintenance databases. Such queries are corralled into workflows for checking crude, updating maintenance or lining up blends—each of which can be assembled differently for different tasks and subject to Chevron’s IT governance. Chevron has begun implementing common functions like report writers leveraging Web 2.0 ‘mashups’ to blend information across maintenance and work order systems.


Brooks told Oil IT Journal, ‘I believe that Objectivity/DB can fill the need for a more flexible, agile, speedy and federated data management tool. We tend to handcuff our future to older technologies such as ETL and the relational database. Objectivity/DB can be a part of the toolset, providing a framework for developing services that align with the business needs. These can ten be reconfigured to meet new opportunities in evolving markets.’ Objectivity has a strategic relationship with Chevron. Partners in the Plant of the Future program include IBM and Yokogawa. More from

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