Planter moins, jardiner plus

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton returns from an Amazon web services summit with an inspirationally-sloganed T-shirt. Splunk’s 'plant less, garden more’ entreaty is a message for our times. He ruminates on gardening possibilities in energy saving, data management and IT.

We popped in on an Amazon web services summit recently and, while I would like to be able to bring you some snappy take-aways and suggestions as to how to move your business to the cloud, I confess that the whole thing was quite overwhelming. Beyond geeky in fact. I sat in on one training session and, with lots of hand holding and incomprehensible terse advice, managed to ‘provision an instance’ of something in the cloud. If I had stayed with it a couple of hours more I may have even managed a ‘hello world’ app.

My own take-away from the Amazon event was a great T shirt, kindly provided by an outfit called Splunk. The T shirt displays an inspirational slogan, ‘Planter moins, jardiner plus’ which being interpreted means ‘plant less, garden more.’ When I jog forth in my new, fashionably black, T shirt, folks first see a philosophical entreaty. As I pass them, they read ‘Splunk’ on my back which causes some puzzlement.

In view of the $1.5 trillion of cancelled, sorry, deferred, oil country projects that WoodMac has just estimated, ‘Plant less, garden more’ is an excellent message for our times. Instead of going down to the garden center and buying new dahlias only to watch them shrivel up in the heat, get stuck into the bindweed.

So where is your ‘bindweed?’ In this issue of Oil IT Journal we report from the recent Belsim user group (page 11) where several presentations showed how major savings in energy use can be made in process optimization. Already widely used in refineries, the optimizing energy use should benefit offshore oil and gas platforms and especially onshore sites.

For non-conventionals, reducing energy consumption will lower the breakeven limit to production and allow cash-strapped operators to hang in a little bit longer and hope that they can avoid breaching their covenants for a few more months. And naturellement, lowering energy use in the production process is also is a step in the right direction for the environment.

On which subject, your organization may have reporting requirements for its carbon footprint in which case you should checkout our ‘going green’ section (page 5). It would seem that the market for carbon management software is a growth area.

If you are operating a data center, energy should be a concern too. In this context you might like to check out the Open compute project, a worldwide community of engineers whose mission is to ‘design and enable the delivery of the most efficient server, storage and data center hardware designs for scalable computing.’ The OCP advocates sharing ideas, specifications and other intellectual property as the key to maximizing innovation and reducing operational complexity in the scalable computing space.

If you are working in a large office, energy use might well be a good target for investigation, perhaps applying some of the building information management techniques that are promoted by Fiatech or by evaluating what is grandly termed the internet of things, connected devices to switch electricity consuming appliances on and off. This may involve some ‘planting’ i.e. purchasing new kit. But if you can use solutions such as Nest, the cost may be easy to justify.

Data management has always been about gardening. The lull in operations that the downturn will bring should provide some breathing space that might enable data managers to find and fix all those data busts. Such was the conclusion of a recent CDA-hosted ‘data management in the downturn’ workshop, more of which next month.

While this kind of data gardening may be worthwhile, it is difficult to justify in dollar terms, despite many efforts to do so. If HR is on the warpath looking for heads to chop I would not feel terribly comfortable if all I could come up with was business as usual.

How about instead, as I have argued here before, a data automation project that brings the promise of reducing future data admin and costs. We will be describing one such innovative approach in our next issue with an on the spot report from Norway’s ECIM upstream data management conference.

IT is often perceived to be a driver of efficiencies and a destroyer of jobs. This is certainly not the case for the profession of IT itself which seems to multiply and breed applications, service requirements and complexity while achieving, well, let’s say less than one might have hoped for. In evidence I call the collected work of Dilbert author Scott Adams.

Feeling no particular need to ‘upgrade’ from my old Windows XP, I waited until last year when Microsoft switched off its life support before reluctantly, and at considerable expense in terms of downtime and frustration, ‘upgraded’ to Windows 7. Now, less than a year later, a little button has appeared offering me a ‘free upgrade’ to Windows 10! An invitation to ‘plant more’ methinks.

While you are wondering whether to click on the ‘obtain Windows 10’ button I suggest that you do two things. First read the Wikipedia entry on the philosophy behind the Unix operating system. This emphasizes ‘building short, simple, clear, modular and extensible code that can be easily maintained and repurposed by developers other than its creators.’ Tools for gardeners if you will. Next try and find anything anywhere on the ‘philosophy’ behind Microsoft Windows!


Finally, with regard to the Volkswagen diesel debacle I have a trumpet to blow, my own. I invite you to read or reread my October 2008 editorial on the subject of gas guzzling, CO2, horsepower and ‘green’


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