At a two-day event, IBM outlined how it is using its Maximo software, gained in its 2006 acquisition of MRO Software, to help businesses better monitor and manage their assets, and to better analyze the information coming in about those assets. IBM is one of a growing number of companies-such as Cisco and Schneider Electric-which are using their IT expertise to build high-tech intelligence into everything from buildings and transportation systems to utilities and technology devices.
BEDFORD, Mass.-IBM's $740 million purchase of MRO Software in 2006 wasn't the highest profile acquisition the company has made.
However, the asset management software company has found a home
within IBM's greater software universe, and is a key part of Big Blue's
"Smarter Planet" initiative, which essentially is about the ability to
build greater intelligence into products and facilities.
That was the message IBM officials-including Al Zollar, general
manager of IBM's Tivoli Software business-gave at their annual meeting
of Maximo software customers here June 16.
"We're going to keep innovating [on the Maximo product line]," Zollar said.
The meeting of users of Maximo software-which IBM acquired with its
MRO purchase-is something that MRO had run before the acquisition, and
something that IBM has continued. IBM officials use them as a way to
both give the users a glimpse at the road map and also to get input from
them to help guide the road map.
Zollar said IBM is using all of its software tools-from Rational and
Tivoli to Telelogic and MRO-to build high-tech intelligence into assets
in such areas as IT, facilities, transportation, health care and
infrastructure. By doing so, challenges faced throughout the world can
"The whole idea is about information that allows for smarter outcomes," Zollar said.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, chairman emeritus of the IBM Academy of
Technology, said the need for greater intelligence and enhanced
abilities to analyze data is growing. He pointed to the huge amounts of
data being generated in real time, and the rapidly growing numbers of
mobile devices that will soon run into the trillions. There's also the
growing demand for computational power, storage and bandwidth to manage
and analyze the data coming in.
"We are getting real-time information from everything out there,"
Wladawsky-Berger said. "That is very new. We never had that before. ...
It may sound like science fiction, but this is really nothing new. Take
the damn information and do something with it, wit the tools that we
have, and figure out what's going on. When you find out what going on
with this, you get intelligence."
Using technology to put intelligence into products for such assets
as infrastructures and buildings is gaining momentum as businesses look
to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. Cisco Systems is using its
networking expertise for Smart Grid efforts to help utilities put intelligence into their energy delivery infrastructures.
In addition, the bulk of Schneider Electric's day-long event June 5
focused on plans to make buildings such as offices, data centers and
factories more efficient through the use of intelligent sensors and other technologies.
At IBM's Maximo event, customers spoke of how they're using the software to make their businesses more efficient.
Amtrak is using IBM's Maximo software to manage the assets along its
Northeast corridor, where the railroad company not only operates the
fastest trains in the nation, but also owns the tracks. Amtrak
officials use Maximo to monitor and manage such assets as the tracks,
electric substations and relays, said Bill Broughton, director of EAM
(enterprise asset management) for the railroad.
Amtrak also has plans to expand the software's use. Amtrak is
working on a pilot program in which track inspectors are given Apple
iPhones that can use the Maximo software to enable more real-time flow
of information from the field, Broughton said. In addition, Amtrak also
is using kiosks powered by Maximo for employee attendance management.
"That's one of the things about Maximo," he said. "We can customize it."
Jim Bogan, senior vice president of services for Rolls Royce, said
his company is using the software to enable businesses to monitor the
operations of the Rolls Royce engines in planes. For example, Rolls
Royce has created an operations center based on Maximo that collects
data from the engines being used by customers who sign up for the
services. Three times during the flight-at takeoff, while cruising and
when landing-sensors in the engines will transmit data to the
operations center, where it can be read and the planes alerted if there
are any problems.
Dave Bartlett, vice president of Tivoli industry solutions, outlined
a number of new features that IBM is looking to put into Maximo-both in
the 6.0 and 7.1 versions-this year and next. Bartlett said customers
were pushing for greater mobility capabilities in Maximo, which IBM
will offer in its Maximo Everyplace feature.
It's the Everyplace feature that AMtrak is using in its pilot
program with the iPhone, he said. Users will be able to access their
Maximo applications through browsers on their wireless devices. It's
due for general release in the fall.
"People want to access Maximo anywhere, at any time with any device," Bartlett said.
Another feature is called Asset Management Scheduler, which offers a
graphical map and charts to make it easier for businesses to schedule
In addition, IBM is bringing together Maximo capabilities with its
Optim data management software. Maximo Archiving with Optim Data Growth
will enable users to take the information collected by the Maximo
software and manage it, including archiving it or purging it. This
feature will be in release 6.0 this year, and 7.1 in 2010, Bartlett
IBM also is bringing Tivoli monitoring capabilities and frameworks
to Maximo, and is integrating Cognos reporting functions for better
analysis of the data collected by Maximo.