IBM wires trucks

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Making a city "smarter" starts with networked hardware, says IBM. That is, fire trucks, waste water lines, and buildings.

The city of Chesapeake, Va.,IBM Laptop Battery has contracted with IBM to modernize the city's public works and utilities infrastructure, touching everything from its water system to its fire department. The deal is part of IBM's "smarter city" campaign of wooing municipalities that are investing in their infrastructure.

Rather than simply rewire power lines or rebuild broken bridges, cities should invest in technologies to improve efficiency and safety, said Bill Sawyer, IBM's vice president of IBM Maximo Operations.

In practice, that typically means bringing physical assets--trucks,IBM 02K7054 Battery, IBM ThinkPad A20 Battery, IBM ThinkPad A20M Battery, buildings, utility lines, and the like--under control of a consolidated software system, Sawyer explained. By putting a networked sensor onto a fire truck, for example, the maintenance department can get data on its condition and save money on its maintenance schedule.


Now under (software) management: heavy equipment for clearing debris after storms.

(Credit: IBM )
Data is collected from various end points and consolidated in the Maximo asset management application, IBM 02K7054 Battery, which IBM bought in 2006 and has integrated with its Tivoli IT management system.

"There's an abundance of stimulus money, not only in the U.S. but all over the world," Sawyer said. "Rather than just rebuilding that bridge [in Minnesota that collapsed in 2007], you can embed sensors in the bridge to improve the ability to do preventive maintenance."

In one part of the project, Chesapeake's public utilities plan to put sensors and water meters at different points of the distribution networks, including water treatment plants and at end customers. By tracking usage of water, the city hopes better conserve water and lower its spending.

In the next phase of the project, the city plans to equip a number of its assets, such as water lines, with GPS equipment. That will allow city departments get a consolidated visual view of where the city's resources.

Simply knowing where physical assets are located allows city departments to run more efficiently and do more sophisticated applications. So when a town's public works department dispatches somebody for street repair,IBM 02K7054 Battery, IBM ThinkPad A20 Battery, IBM ThinkPad A20M Battery, it can decide to do maintenance on the water lines as well, Sawyer said.

For citizens, the modernized infrastructure will help ensure consistent services and reduce waste, he said.

IBM to buy enterprise software maker Lombardi
IBM is making yet another acquisition, this one a leading provider of business process management software.

Big Blue announced on Wednesday its intention to purchase Lombardi, IBM ThinkPad A20 Battery, a privately-held firm that sells business process management (BPM) software and services. BPM is designed to help companies cut costs and improve efficiency by automating and integrating key business processes. This encompasses such areas as product planning, supply chain, product procurement, human resources, and IT services.

Market research firm IDC forecasts that the market for BPM software will reach $3 billion by 2013, up from $1.7 billion this year--a compounded annual growth rate of almost 15 percent.

"Any discussion on business improvement inevitably leads to improving the processes that are at the heart of every company," said Craig Hayman, general manager for IBM Application and Integration Middleware, in a statement. "Recognizing this, IBM has strengthened its presence and investments in business process and integration software to meet these growing client demands. Lombardi fills out our company's portfolio in this key area."

Based in Austin, Texas, with offices in Europe, Lombardi has enjoyed record sales over the past few years. For fiscal 2008, the company's revenues almost doubled, rising 47 percent over those in 2007. Lombardi's customers run the gamut to include financial services, government, health care, insurance, manufacturing, and telecommunications.

Both companies see the acquisition as a nice fit since Lombardi's Teamworks development and Blueprint documentation products already work under IBM's WebSphere environment. The two also enjoy many of the same customers and partners, which should pave the way for a smooth transition.IBM ThinkPad A20M Battery, IBM also noted that its existing technologies and those of Lombardi won't be changed, so customers can continue to use their current systems.

"Lombardi's had a long-standing technical partnership with IBM--we were one of the first vendors in the BPM space to deliver a product running on WebSphere," wrote Lombari CEO Rod Favaron in his blog on Wednesday. "We understand IBM's strengths and we know how they complement ours as well. We also know that there is a great fit for both Teamworks and Blueprint into the overall IBM BPM portfolio."

IBM has been on an acquisition streak this past year, IBM 02K7054 Battery, IBM ThinkPad A20 Battery, IBM ThinkPad A20M Battery,trying to beef up its offerings to business customers. The company has so far gobbled up data discovery software firm Exeros, database security firm Guardium, security provider Ounce Labs, and analytics provider SPSS.

Following the usual regulatory approvals, Lombardi will be integrated into IBM. No specific closing date or financial terms were disclosed.

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