Saturday, July 18, 2009

As the Sun sets...

We bid adieu to Sun Microsystems and recognize the Draft Specification is now one year of age.  I can say with out much reservation that it has, and will be, the most difficult thing that I have done in my life. Taking better then a year to write and the result of seven years of university and thirty years of experience in oil and gas, at 50 you know there is not that much gas left in the tank. My father always said that your 40's are the time in which you can do anything. Your are mentally, physically, spiritually and intellectually at your life's peak, and I feel that is the case with me. After a little more then a year since publication, this past year has been more about recovery and recharge then anything else.

I look back on the 17 years in which I started working to develop oil and gas systems; with amazement that I was able to get the job done. For much of that time I was driven to do something that I did not know specifically what it was. Searching and hunting for something to satisfy an unknown. When I originally saw what it was that I could do, it was May 1992. In a flash the idea came to me and I was driven to make it real. 

For many of those days it seemed to me like I was locked in a darken room where I needed to find the exit. Being constantly reminded of the obstacles, dangers and pressures which frustrated the journey. I needed to find the way for those that would follow. Rising above the day to day grind never made any sense. The counter intuitive and seemingly destructive decisions to pursue this project alienated and confused most. But I always knew whatever the result I was reaching for, I could achieve that vision of so many years before. 

Today I look back on these times as the best part of my life. The struggle is the prize and this journey has produced a new "way" for the oil and gas industry. I am pleased with the results of this effort and will continue to make the project real. Writing here about the compelling reasons why the industry should adopt the Draft Specification. Recruiting the people needed to take it to the next level. And joining those people who will solve the problems we face in meeting the demands for energy. 

For people who have similar feelings and opportunities. Those with the desire to do something that they know is above and beyond them. Preparation is the difference between success and failure. It is academic whether you will do it or not. You really have no choice. I think preparation needs two very important ingredients. A Master's level education will help in defining and building the many contradiction and conflicts that arise. Secondly a physical depth brought about by high levels of competition in sports. Your system will be taxed and the stress will kill you. I've suffered 4 bouts of Pneumonia in the past 6 years and I know that if I was not as fit as I once was when I went into this process, let's just say the stress is super human. But more importantly the physical competition shows you that there is nothing but your mind that limits your potential. 

I am honored to lead this project. I am rested and fully recovered and look forward to the next 17 years. When we look at what has been done and compare it to what needs to be done, little has been achieved. I am reminded of Ray Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns about how things get done. Very slowly at first, and then they pick up their own momentum. According to Google, 861 people have looked at the Draft Specification. When we think that People, Ideas & Objects is about obscure oil and gas ERP systems, I think this number shows these ideas have a community of like minded people. Please join us here

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

99.9986% uptime.

Yesterday I lost the final two hours of work on a post I was writing. Frustrating yes, but that is the first "loss" of work in 2 full years. I'm talking about the use of Google Apps for our domain ( I was writing when suddenly my browser failed and I had to restart it. And as a result, when I logged back in the file did not reflect the last two hours of work. It was the same as I had left it the day before. For whatever reason during that two hours the browser would register my edits, but not write them to the file on Google's servers. Either one of these two technologies, the browser or Google Docs failed for that period of time. 

I am also partially at fault for not doing a hard save on the file during that two hour period. I rely almost exclusively on Google Docs picking up all of my saves and have become overly reliant on these automatic saves. 

Now Google Docs is just one product of the suite of applications that are available. These other applications are used extensively and maybe should be factored in when I determine Google's up-time percentage. Then there is that price. At $50.00 per user per year, this is the deal of the century.
I also have to mention the costs and risks of maintaining our own environment. I don't think in the past two years we would have had the same up-time. Probably not even close. And that doesn't factor in any of the heavy costs of servers, bandwidth and applications. Therefore mark me down as a very satisfied Google Apps user. 

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Monday, July 13, 2009

China's energy consumption

Rebecca Wilder has one of the most interesting blogs on the Internet. Her passion for economics, writing and prolific chart production provide unique insight and perspectives on the economy. She recently published this graph that I think identifies one of the most difficult issues we will face in the next few years.

The problem of course is the future demand for energy. China's consumption is already amongst the highest in the world. This is evidence demand will continue on a rather aggressive trajectory for the next few decades.

The energy industry is ill prepared to meet this challenge. That is what this software development project is about. Preparing, by first organizing, the producers to address this challenge. Organizing around the Joint Operating Committee, the legal, financial, cultural, communicative, and operational decision making framework of the global oil and gas industry. Building the software to define, align and support the People, Ideas & Objects of an innovative energy industry.  

If we leave the problem in the hands of the bureaucracy we will continue to fail. Please join us here

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Google O/S and NeatX

This announcement almost went under the radar. Sometimes the complexity of the technologies make it difficult to see the whole picture. Information about Google's recently announced Operating System (Google Chrome) received significant attention, not so for Neatx. Which is interesting because the two applications combine to introduce a new product architecture. I'll leave it to the MSM to provide the information on the O/S. Neatx is the real jewel in this new product / architectural offering. To me this product offering shows Google is serious about both the consumer and enterprise marketplace in terms of offerings.

We need to go back to the last two Google related posts I've written about. Google Wave is a revolutionary communication related product. The second technology I recently wrote about was Google Chrome (The Browser), their open source browser. Recall I thought that the technology would enable the user to have a constant browser experience available from any public or private terminal. 

In a networked world the users needs are unquantifiable. They can and will include every possible permutation and combination. The other known attribute of the users demands is that the volume of data and information will continue to grow exponentially. Having this environment available all the time and anywhere becomes a challenge for the technology. As I wrote about in the Google Chrome (Browser) post; the constant, consistent web browser interface, complete with all the users unique and authenticated access available by simply logging into the users account through a Google Chrome browser. 

This feature may not seem to be a strong feature to the average web consumer. However, in my opinion, from an enterprise point of view it is a necessity. The problem with this implementation is that it is relegated to the browser. If Cloud Computing does take off it will need a more robust operating environment in which to ensure its users and companies are able to rely upon. That is where Google Chrome the O/S and Google Neatx come in to play. 

Neatx is an open source product that Google has in development and will be offering. Based on the "old" X Windows architectural model of computing, Neatx leverages Google Chrome the O/S in ways noted in my Google Chrome (Browser) post. The difference is the level of security and control, unlimited application access, file systems, any and all compiler access, and the single sign on environment available anywhere on any machine. In other words the entire network capability, unlimited and unconstrained by any hardware, software or network related issue. The fact that Google is calling both the browser and the O/S "Chrome" is probably indicative of the disappearance of the "Browser" metaphor. And, this environment becoming systemic or embedded within the O/S with the classic Google / Apple ease of use. 

People, Ideas & Objects is founded on a Technical Vision that includes four cornerstone technologies. I see these technologies Java, Asynchronous Process Management, Wireless and IPv6 changing the technical landscape in the next few years. The scenario I see developing for Users of People, Ideas & Objects. (And yes this imputes that Google Chrome (the O/S) and Neatx will be added to the Draft Specification.) Is a User has at their disposal all manner of computing resources necessary to complete their work supporting the innovative oil and gas producer. Users making their clients the most profitable in terms of their commercial operations. 

Logging into their systems the User will have at their disposal the complete People, Ideas & Objects applications. Applications that they have influenced in terms of what they need and want from an ERP system. In addition, the software development capability that is a core competitive advantage of People, Ideas & Objects offerings. A software development capability where the applications will evolve based on User input. 

Once the user is logged in, they will be able to see their session presented just as it was when they last logged out. No matter what machine they have logged in from. From there they may be logged into a variety of network resources that provide the full scope of functionality needed to do their job. If they need a monthly report they like to run for their clients they can run it from any machine they may be on. The fact that it takes 15 hours of processing time is irrelevant to the Netbook they are using. Access to People, Ideas & Objects provides the processing power that will complete the 15 hour job in the next 15 seconds, and the User can continue to provide their producer client with the innovative and valuable report that they developed. This architecture is designed to provide a better understanding of the opportunities and issues the producers have at each Joint Operating Committee. 

Physical location will become irrelevant in this virtual environment. And due to the Asynchronous Process Management that is a cornerstone of the Technical Vision, time will be of less significance then it is today. Gone will be the pressures of deadlines and 9 to 5. In its place will be an active and innovative member of the Joint Operating Committee providing the commercial transaction processing, analysis and evaluation of the issues of that JOC. An individual who is trained in their craft of Geology, Engineering, Accounting or Administration and is proactive and innovative. 

In this scenario People, Ideas & Objects becomes more then just an application. And more the cornerstone of a loose grouping of modules that create the Users commercial environment. A commercial environment that provides the User with access to the People they need to do their job. An environment in which they apply their skills and earn their income. 
Please join us here in making this vision real. 

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

"Industry in a box."

It's 1992 all over again. I find myself in the position where I have a good handle on the needs and understanding of the energy industry. And I stumble into the previously unfavorable position where Oracle Corp is making statements and announcing product architectures that resonate with me. And that is the bad part. Not that Oracle technology is not the best, it is, and I find they are sailing closest to the wind in terms of the market offerings and future architectures. 

The problem for me is that Oracle and I have had business dealings before. In early 1997 Oracle executed a coup against its global Independent Service Providers that was of questionable strategic and tactical value. It is doubtful in my mind that Oracle has changed its way's. With their pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems they seem to be an imposing figure on our horizon. We need to decide how to capture the best value for our clients, the oil and gas producers.

The comment "Industry in a Box" is attributed to Larry Ellison who is the founder, Chairman and majority owner of Oracle. The comment was made in a Forbes article "Questioning Oracle's Cloud" where it is asked if Oracle's commitment to cloud computing is consistent with its current application offerings. 

Irrespective of Oracle's application offerings, People, Ideas & Objects Draft Specification details the needs of an innovative oil and gas producer. None of the current Oracle application offerings are needed to augment the software development capability that People, Ideas & Objects offers the oil and gas producer. Leading one to realize that Oracle is as much of a direct competitor as it is a technology provider. I think it was this same conflict that lead Oracle to make the decision to become an application provider at the expense of its Independent Software Vendors in 1997. 

The point of the article is Ellison's comment. It accurately captures the value proposition that People, Ideas & Objects offers the oil and gas producer. A value proposition based on the understanding that the innovative producer will have it's asset base, geological and engineering capabilities as its primary competitive advantage. Owning and operating computer hardware and software that provides the back office functions does not provide any competitive value. 

Go through an energy companies career listings and see the detailed description of an IT job they are looking to fill. Painful. The "Industry in a box" for oil and gas is consistent with the competitive advantages and value proposition noted here. A centralized, secure, virtual capability providing the producer with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. Please join us here.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

McKinsey, Bryan and Rumelt Part lll

This is the third and final installment of the McKinsey Quarterlies podcasts from Lowell Bryan and Richard Rumelt. I have taken the two previous podcasts and applied them to the work that is being done in People, Ideas & Objects. In Part l the authors noted the current tendency to think that clear sailing is the normal or optimal operating environment. As they were able to clearly communicate, clear sailing avoids the risks and dangers that need to be addressed in the economy. In Part ll they relate to the "markets" magic healing powers that preclude anyone or company from taking any action or responsibility. Noting the tendency for people to suggest that the bigger problems are not their responsibility, and the market will take care of it.

Part lll takes the conversation to the operating strategies that people can use to optimize their future. Change is happening at a remarkable rate. Much of the change is being forced upon us as a result of the failures brought on by too much clear sailing. Information Technology plays a big part of how I see we rebuild our economy.

It is also interesting to note the level of discussion that is taking place regarding the role of government in the economy. Some interesting points of view are here, here and here. I would also turn your attention to Professor Carlota Perez' earlier work this decade. She was instrumental in predicting the scope and scale of our economic collapse. And how this period of economic renewal is a constant in our economy for over the past 300 years. One of her very pertinent points was the role of government would need to be "redefined" in an innovative and creative manner. 

I have thought about her point of a new role for government for the past number of years. Particularly from the point of view of this software development project. Software defines and supports the organization. We currently see social networks coming into play with the power of connecting like minded people. Software defines and supports not just organizations, but society as well. Just as roads, bridges, communications and infrastructure fall in the jurisdiction of the government. Software as infrastructure provides value to all that live within the society by reducing the shared costs of living in that society, and enabling access for personal and commercial purposes. I think governments need to realize this enhanced role in the new economy.

With that preamble in mind I turn to the document at hand. Bryan and Rumelt note;
If we look ahead a bit, you can see the health care system we have, if we extend it to a larger group of the population, or everybody lets say, its going to bankrupt us, so something is going to give. The strategist is someone who has an idea about what is going to give or about reshaping it. That's how your going to create value. 
This project is about a strategy of how to rebuild the oil and gas industry. An industry which is beginning to show the failures of clear sailing. The current motivation and ability to approach the new science and engineering basis of the innovative oil and gas producer is in question. I am not predicting the future, only suggesting that research shows the Joint Operating Committee provides the appropriate posture for an innovative organization. We must move to the JOC as our opportunity for the future. 

The future lies in the collective hands of the user group that defines, uses and controls this software development. User driven software development is the only method that can assure what the authors say should be the proper posture.
How to prepare to be resilient and flexible no matter how this environment turns out. 
Fortune favors the prepared mind.
Soon the economy will force the hands of the people who are now working in the oil and gas industry. People, Ideas & Objects will be here for those people who know the bureaucracies days are over. It doesn't require a lot of vision to see the bureaucracy can't and won't make the transition to the future.
You have to find a wave of change that you can exploit and ride it with skill. Its not about having lockstep plans, its about figuring out which forces we can harness or ride to our benefit. 
Please join us here.

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