IBM Expands Smarter Planet Efforts With Network, Asset Management Apps


Taking its "Smarter Planet" initiative to the next level, IBM this week unveiled new software tools for managing and monitoring networked systems and a new application that helps hospitals keep track of health-care equipment and other assets.

IBM, which held its Pulse 2011 conference in Las Vegas this week, also announced a number of customer wins that relate to the vendor's Smarter Planet initiative. The Pulse conference is built around IBM's Tivoli systems and network management platform.

The new technologies span IBM's Smarter Planet initiative, which adds intelligence to everything from industrial supply chains to municipal traffic systems, and takes advantage of the increasing numbers of RFID tags and sensors that are rapidly being added to physical infrastructure. "This combination of real-time data, location-based data and domain-based analytics is very powerful," said Natasha Roukos, director of IBM's Maximo software, in an interview.

IBM's new Netcool/Omnibus software provides businesses and organizations with predictive monitoring and event management capabilities to identify and address problems within complex networks. IBM said the system enhances monitoring, visualization, correlation and root-cause analysis capabilities to identify problems in everything from telecommunications lines, corporate networks and municipal traffic management systems.

The new IBM Intelligent Metering Network Management system helps utility companies monitor and manage "smart meters," networked devices for energy, gas and water metering that are expected to number more than 300 million globally within just a few years. The new application taps into data generated by smart meters and analyzes it to manage customer service levels.

The NetCool/Omnibus and Intelligent Metering Network Management applications work with IBM's Maximo Asset Management system.

The new IBM Real-Time Asset Locator for Healthcare application is designed to help hospitals track clinical, biomedical and other expensive equipment and get the most value out of those assets. IBM said industry experts estimate that the average hospital can't locate between 15 and 20 percent of the medical devices they own. The system relies on RFID tags to capture data about the location and utilization of medical equipment.

And the new Smarter Buildings software, now in beta, combines monitoring, analysis, facilities management and dashboards to help property managers improve their facility management operations and reduce costs.

Real-Time Asset Locator for Healthcare and Smarter Buildings applications are built on the Maximo Asset Management system.

All of the announced applications are sold through IBM channel partners, Roukos said, especially solution providers with deep services skills in vertical industries. "The deeper we go into physical infrastructure, the more we need the domain-specific skills of our partners," she said.

At the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Orlando last month, CEO Sam Palmisano urged partners to beef up their skills to participate in more Smarter Planet-type customer engagements.

IBM this week announced a number of customer wins for the vendor's Smarter Planet efforts among municipal and civic projects. Those include projects at the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, Swiss Federal Railways, the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, and the City of Waterloo.