Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nuclear Software Off the Shelf

warp Looking around for software that helps greenify your life, we ran across this.

Announced Monday, one of IBM's new partnerships is with Johnson Controls, a manufacturer of products that optimize energy use in buildings. The two plan to combine Johnson's energy-efficient technologies with IBM's Tivoli software to offer customers a way to monitor and manage power usage, which IBM believes will cut costs. Specifically, building owners will be able to detect wasteful energy use, calculate greenhouse gas levels, and better manage the space in their buildings.

Tivoli is systems management software you wouldn’t see outside a fairly large enterprise – the company was founded in 1989 and bought by IBM in 1996. Interestingly, the name Tivoli has no particular meaning to the company's founders – it was essentially picked from a list – so no Danish connection.

This fits what we were poking around for, but the story goes on to cover some other IBM news:

IBM also said it has added a major customer in the form of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA is now using IBM software to monitor and manage the different power source assets throughout its plants, including fossil fuel, hydro, nuclear, and wind. The utility is using IBM's Maximo Asset Management software, including Maximo for Nuclear Energy.

The Maximo software is designed to integrate supply chain and other business processes to help customers manage all their assets under one roof. Maximo replaces the TVA's older maintenance and supply-chain software and other legacy applications.

Maximo for Nuclear Energy? – that sounds awfully niche. But no – there’s a page for it at IBM’s site. Here are its sale points:

  • Manages assets with a single approach.
  • Manages each asset’s life cycle including acquisition, work management, inventory control, purchasing, and preventive maintenance.
  • Addresses the specialized needs of the nuclear power industry such as – surveillance testing, corrective action, calibration, and procurement engineering.
  • Supports key best practice business processes defined in the Standard Nuclear Performance Model.
  • Built on a J2EE component-based Internet architecture, it easily integrates into most existing business systems.

Apparently, Maximo is also a Tivoli based tool. That last bullet point indicates it runs in a Web browser and can probably roost on any kind of server it needs to – we suspect that would be a mainframe or Unix server. Still, even it this is an adaptation of Tivoli, IBMers presumably had to visit plants to figure out what was needed and then implemented those needs digitally.

Now, this all sounds a bit like a sales pitch, but we have no real knowledge of this software – TVA does, of course – but we do know that plants do in-house software development, so many may code this kind of systems management tool internally. It’s interesting to see a commercial version – and generic implementation - of nuclear plant management. We wonder whether this kind of thing is generally viewed well or with some suspicion.

IBM wanted to hire actor Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: The Next Generation to launch OS/2 Warp in 1994, but when he was unable to do it, the company substituted Kate Mulgrew of the then unseen Star Trek: Voyager. No slight to Ms. Mulgrew, a fine actor, but the awkward switch might epitomize IBM’s problems with marketing software to the end user. It does very little of it anymore.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Ha! I used to run OS/2 Warp in the 90s. Fantastic UI and great multitasking. Brings back memories.