BoM taps IBM for asset system overhaul

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BoM taps IBM for asset system overhaul

Strikes $4.7m deal as part of ‘robust’ program.

The Bureau of Meteorology will swap out a suite of existing asset management systems for a single IBM Maximo system as part of a multi-year IT transformation aimed at hardening its environment.

The national weather agency recently signed a $4.7 million contract with IBM to deliver the software-as-a-service (SaaS) system following a request for proposal (RFP) in 2019.

The deal covers software licensing, IBM cloud hosting and application support from IBM’s Global Business Services unit

The Maximo system, which will be hosted on IBM’s Cloud, will replace a series of disparate system at BoM - some of which are still paper-based - from May 2021.

The overhaul is taking place as part of the bureau’s ‘robust’ program – a multi-million dollar IT transformation that began in the wake of a 2015 hack by suspected foreign adversaries.

Robust – which was first funded in the 2018 federal budget and was topped up this year – is hardening the BoM operating environment.

As part of the program, the bureau has already switched data centres, upgraded its digital channels platform and is currently in the process of standing up a new secure data platform.

Dave Small, IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) applications business unit executive, told iTnews the new system will be used for “virtually every type of asset that [the bureau] has”.

“It is really looking at that whole lifecycle of all the assets that they have around the country that allow [BoM] to provide the weather service,” he said.

IBM already has a number of other customers using Maximo, largely in water management, including Melbourne Water, Sydney Water, Yarra Valley Water and Goulburn Murray Water.

Small said the first phase of the project would cover the “foundation layer of asset management plus mobility”, with further phases expected to follow.

Inventory management, cost management and works management are some of the function that will “hang” around that “core asset” in Maximo.

“In the case of BoM, they’ve got a fairly detailed inspection regime with all these assets spread across the country – they send people out to do inspections and check and things like that,” Small said.

“So that’s why they’ve included the mobility phases as part of the initial phase to be able to address a whole range of compliance checks and things around the different types of assets that they have.”

Small said that one of the reasons that the platform was chosen was for its predictive capabilities, which will increasingly come into their own with the proliferation of internet of things (IoT) devices.

“If I’m going to predict something, I need to have a good base level because if the underlying data is not solid its difficult – doesn’t matter how good your system is – to predict,” he said.

“It’s given [BoM] that real good platform going forward.”

Small added that BoM is one of the first federal government agencies to use a SaaS solution running on IBM’s Cloud.

IBM Cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings were assessed to a protected-level under the Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) earlier this year.

“From a Maximo perspective, it’s our first federal government customer running IBM Cloud,” he said.

“We’ve got a few others - the Department of Health and then also ... parliamentary services are also running e-invoicing on our IBM Cloud as well.”

IBM is currently working with BoM to review requirements, including around integration, before the platform’s first phase goes live in May 2021.

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