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ACCESSING ENTERPRISE DATA -- FROM THE TOP DOWN
The Whole Enterprise Needs to Make Sense...not just the solar system
by Steve Lowe
Asked if he might consider utilizing vacant roof space for photovoltaic power, Sprint's Dan Boutross says, "From a planning standpoint, I like to try to imagine a revenue model to match the footprint. Telecom receivers and solar electric production are potential revenue candidates. With continuing utility deregulation, I can imagine a world in which electric companies might want to lease large enterprise rooftops -- to provide demand-side power to the grid. Sprint's consolidated data warehouse could easily handle the information flow."
At large enterprises, the current movement is to improve all business processes by consolidating asset tracking -- to more effectively communicate the day-to-day issues and challenges that affect productivity. More and more, successful infrastructure resource planning and management will require a single exhaustive knowledge base accessible to all key decision makers.
The largest enterprise organizations with the greatest need for dynamic scalability are already leading the way. Sprint Corporation and the University of Chicago are shining examples, each with over 8,000,000 square feet currently cataloged in centralized databases. The Federal Government's GSA Public Buildings Service, which manages over 285-million sq. ft. of building space, is also implementing a similar nation-wide process.
The leading-edge IT, HR, ERP and financial executives of these organizations are currently driving database development toward centralized communication between the functional and technical elements within their organizations. Successful implementations like these are most often linked to issues of scalability.
According to Dan Boutross, Sprint's (http://www.sprint.com/) Director of Strategic Planning and Program Management(SPPM), Sprint's Real Estate Finance and SPPM are in the process of consolidating facility data across their entire national framework to connect all their Real Estate planners with up-to-the minute data. "The overhaul completely replaces localized Microsoft Access legacy databases. In their place, new Oracle-based FIS/FM® software allows dynamic, scalable interaction across business functions, including IT and HR which have traditionally been islands unto themselves," says Boutross.
One of the big-picture goals of Sprint's data consolidation is to promote a culture that encourages change and knowledge sharing while enabling employees to make better use of information. Ongoing, evolutionary goals are to reduce real estate cost to the corporation while improving customer service. "Moreover," says Mr. Boutross, "Sprint's REF and SPPM groups, in the national implementation of FIS' facility management software, are developing effective and comprehensive programs to manage change itself."
Among the key business drivers for enterprise-wide deployment of centralized infrastructure planning are cost reduction and need to support an ever changing business environment. The systematic introduction of change establishes a framework to support future initiatives -- such as programming for the Sprint World Headquarters Campus and Real Estate consolidation.
Strategic-level infrastructure planning requires a bird's eye view of the entire enterprise, allowing high priority issues to emerge as key themes. Tactical level planning often requires managers at opposite ends of the country to look at the same data -- often from different perspectives. Unlike "old-style computing" today's asset resource databases need to be flexible enough to handle virtually any type of query, on the fly, from any source.
So what happens when the new consolidated data warehouse is thrown a non-traditional interaction? Can it handle issues that may not have been specifically designed into the ERP software? Here's a non-traditional infrastructure planning example:
Given deregulation in the electrical utility industry, does it make sense to create rentable space or chargeback data scenarios for enterprise rooftops?
Asked if he might consider utilizing vacant roof space, Dan Boutross says, "From a planning standpoint, I like to try to imagine a revenue model to match the footprint. Telecom receivers and solar electric production are potential revenue candidates. With continuing utility deregulation, I can imagine a world in which electric companies might want to lease large enterprise rooftops -- to provide demand-side power to the grid. Sprint's consolidated data warehouse could easily handle the information flow."
Ken Benson is Director of Global IT for Johnson Controls/Integrated Facility Management (http://www.johnsoncontrols.com/ifm/). Johnson Controls manages over a billion square feet of commercial building space, worldwide.
Similar "curveball" question: How might infrastructure planning for under-utilized rooftop space be handled by centralized database software? Mr. Benson says it's relatively simple if you logically separate the components. He views energy consumption issues as building-system subsets of enterprise asset management, directly related to plant operation. Energy production or leased rooftop space falls into ownership-system subsets of asset management, related to capital. Utility issues relate to usage-system subsets and land values. "Data from any of these subsets must be able to pass current information to planning managers anywhere in the enterprise," says Benson.
If the example seems complicated, it paints the perfect picture of why, properly implemented, all of the above processes must be able to happen at the click of a mouse button over the Internet using any standard web browser.
Energy costs, building and systems maintenance, as well as workforce moves-adds-and-changes all are major expense areas in real estate operations. Immediate operational response is the primary focus when dealing with these issues. Roof-down data warehousing via enterprise intranet portals enables very large organizations to integrate immediate response into a more strategic-planning and future-investment view of executive
Data integrity is key -- tightly linking reports in real-time to absolutely up-to-the-moment information that accurately reflects current reality. Built-in flexibility is required to allow privileged end users to easily change the format and order of their reports -- and to give some managers only a few reports, for example and other managers less limited access.
Another important aspect of data
lies in the ability to seamlessly move information back and forth
the various best-of-class and legacy software applications within the
Best-of-class software alliances allow dynamic, scalable interaction across business functions such as IT, financial and HR. All of that should be available with the click of a mouse button from any desktop anywhere.
Ken Benson adds, "As executives of the largest organizations become aware of other large scale industrial successes, roof-down consolidated data tracking will strengthen its contribution to the bottom line."
The "solar rooftop" data example isn't really far fetched all. Sun MicroSystems just installed a unique Photovoltaic system on its new million square foot campus, and the Maui Lanai Bay Hotel just installed a 100 kWp PV system. The hotel project, designed by Dan Shugar(email@example.com) features an insulated PV rooftop designed to extend the life of the existing roof by 20 years, while significantly displacing HVAC costs (http://www.powerlight.com and http://www.asepv.com/).
Steve Lowe is on the environmental faculty of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.
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