Skip navigation
All Places > All Things PI - Ask, Discuss, Connect > Blog > Authors chuck
chuck

OSIsoft's New Offices

Posted by chuck Employee Aug 14, 2016

Have you seen the progress of construction for OSIsoft's new offices in the new San Leandro Tech Campus (SLTC) ?

 

Just this month the base of the sculpture Truth in Beauty was installed.  The building is all closed in and interior finishing progressing rapidly.  The parking structure is quickly coming together.

If interested in watching the progress, there are some videos on YouTube you can enjoy! 

 

OSIsoft Headquarters (new) construction - view 1 -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k-FzZsIhwM

OSIsoft Headquarters (new) construction - view 2 -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbrnJ84b490

Parking structure construction -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggcJS73LfF0

View from the new office building - currently the tallest building in San Leandro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNVcprtuyC0

Sculpture installation - part 1 -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1gustPKpbY

 

... and more information from the official website for the San Leandro Tech Campus -

http://sl-tc.com/

 

( No I didn't make any of the videos, but I am really impressed with what others have done to capture SLTC construction progress! )

chuck

Hardware LifeCycles (OpenVMS)

Posted by chuck Employee Mar 29, 2016

A couple years ago I posted articles inquiring as to the state of OpenVMS and PI System dependencies on OpenVMS within our PI System user community.  Now that a couple of years or so have passed - just the other day I was thinking about this again.  There still remain a number of PI systems, mostly PI3 servers, which depend on interface nodes or application nodes running OpenVMS.  A goodly number of these OpenVMS systems, based on VAX and Alpha platforms, are considered mission or business critical.

 

Just how long can we expect this stuff to run that we type on and archive PI data with?  Let's think about just the disk drives for a moment… 

Disk drives for ”modern” OpenVMS systems had advertised very long lifetimes and smart hardware.  Disk drives in OpenVMS systems which were new in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s were pretty capable and included advanced features helping to implement RAID and caching implementations in drive hardware as compared to other computing systems of the same era which may have implemented such features in disk controllers, or microcode in processor boards, or in operating system disk device drivers.

 

A typical Wide SCSI drive from this era might have advertised 800000 hours MTBF (nearly 100 years!), however… That was a hugely big "However":  MTBF was affected by handling, storage, power up method (and power fail), error rate and so on.

  • Nearly 20% of storage capacity of such drives was reserved for system/hardware functions such as engineering partition, dedicated head landing zone, sectors reserved for error replacement, and auto calibration/head alignment functions.
  • These disks anticipated an average of as many as 100 sectors failing per year of operation. 
  • The way DC power was applied to the drive and the manner of application of the first SCSI controller commands after power up affected drive life and lifecycle.

As a consequence of these features, disk life was expected to be only 5 years in normal use.  Here at OSIsoft we are experiencing average lifetime of these disks to range from 5-8 years.

 

Similarly limited lifetimes apply to our OpenVMS server's disk controllers, memory boards, processor boards and so on.  The last VAX/VMS system was built September and shipped in December of 2000.

And we know the last Alpha OpenVMS system was ordered in April 2007 and shipped later that year.  We can expect nearly all VAX and Alpha based OpenVMS systems to be past end of life at this point in time.

 

Reference:
Seagate Barracuda ST15150N specification sheet and reference manual

Let us consider OSIsoft training facility located within OSIsoft’s offices in San Leandro, California.
The training facility has desktop PCs for 20 students, a desktop PC for the instructor, and several server class machines. The current facility first opened for customer classes in 1997. What savings or cost would be achieved by not upgrading the PCs and monitors of the training room? At one point in time, usual practice was to only upgrade the PCs every 4-5 years and upgrade the monitors only every second or third PC upgrade. The following use case suggests replacing both PCs and monitors every few years would pay for itself in energy savings alone.

Background – HVAC on weekday nights and during entire weekend were turned off for this room as part of a set-back, cost savings measure by the building management. During warmer months, each evening the room temperature would rise quickly to 85 degrees F and higher. On weekends, with the HVAC off from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, the temperature in the room would sometimes rise to 100 degrees F or more. The computers in the room had chronic problems with equipment failures until about 5 years ago. What happened 5 years ago?
  • Each student PC and the instructor’s PC had a 17 inch CRT display. These CRTs typically consumed 140-160 watts and ran 24x7. (546 BTU/hr) About 5 years ago these monitors were replaced with 17 inch flat screens of higher resolution. The new monitors typically consume 25-30 watts. (103 BTU/hr) CRTs turn a lot of their input power into heat. If we assume worst case and the input power all turns into heat, each of the new monitors produce 110 watts less heat.

Using a calculator found on Viewsonic’s website[1], we see the following:


The 20 student PC CRT monitors, the instructor's monitor, and a shared monitor for the server machines [2] in the room were costing OSIsoft about $5322 per year in electricity cost, just to operate the displays. That does not include the HVAC costs associated with removing heat from the classroom.


22 new flat screen monitors, which didn’t have “Energy Star” rating, are costing OSIsoft about $577 per year in electricity cost. If the new flat screen monitors had been purchased as “Energy Star” rated models, annual energy costs would be about $290.
  • Each student PC and the instructor’s PC were using about 265 watts. (910 BTU/hr[3]) The PCs were upgraded to newer, smaller units. The new PCs are using about 200 watts. (683 BTU/hr) If we assume the extra watts consumed were heat, the new PCs output only 75% of the heat the old PCs emitted.

With the old computers and monitors heat load into the classroom was significantly higher. PC
failures before upgrades were approximately twice what should have been expected based on manufacturer’s MTBF specifications. We could account for at least a portion of these failures due to environmental conditions of the classroom.

The sum of these upgrades resulted in about 600 fewer BTU/hr heat into the room per PC/monitor combination. It follows that reduction in HVAC demand during peak and off peak hours wound up being substantial, at least as measured by comfort level of personnel working in the classroom during off-peak hours. Failure rate of the new PCs has dropped to near zero annually. While it is warm in the classroom during weekend hours, working in the room is not unbearable. Combined electricity cost for PC/monitor savings is over $5000 per year. Due to the building infrastructure, it isn’t easy to guess at HVAC operational cost savings, but such savings are there.

Given that OSIsoft doesn’t usually replace the monitors at the same time PCs are upgraded, if we assume a payback period based on the PCs alone, PC operation energy cost savings wouldn’t pay for replacement cost of the PCs. However, if we add in the energy savings gained by replacement of both PCs and monitors, the replacement costs paid back in less than 3 years. Factoring in probable HVAC savings with PC/monitor operation energy savings, probable
payback period would be less than 2 years.


What are your potential savings in operational costs due to hardware upgrades you might implement?


[1] http://www.viewsoniceurope.com/uk/products/desktop-monitors/led-tco-calculator/



[2] http://www.docs.sony.com/release/CPD110GS.PDF


[3] http://downloads.dell.com/Manuals/all-products/esuprt_desktop/esuprt_optiplex_desktop/optiplex-gx240_user's%20guide_en-us.pdf
chuck

New data for PI

Posted by chuck Employee Aug 3, 2013
Some of you know me from my seventeen years in OSIsoft’s field service group or perhaps the four years spent in the tech support group. Five plus years now I am in OSIsoft's Enterprise services group, first in the Project Management group, most recently my assignment has been in OSIsoft’s Center of Excellence.

Some of the more valuable sources innovative ideas to help me in my work with Enterprise customers have come from unconventional sources. I am always on the lookout for ideas which have more than one application, especially those beyond the original application.

Recently I came across a project ham (amateur) radio guys are utilizing – miniature TV cameras. These cameras and interface circuitry have become very inexpensive, perhaps as little as $20 for a camera rig ready connect and control from your computer. What can these cameras do?
  • Automatically take pictures and store them every few seconds. These pictures go into a circular, non-volatile buffer, from which you can retrieve the pictures later.
  • Take pictures on demand or a sequence of pictures on demand, then forward the pictures to your computer.
  • The pictures can be tagged with text you provide from your computer. The text can be static (all pictures taken get the same tag) or you can provide the text for each camera session/operation.

What are the ham radio guys doing with these cameras?
  • Placing the cameras in remote locations, like the top of radio towers, provide pictures with other telemetry they are already collecting like temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Putting the cameras on mobile systems like a bicycle escorting runners during a 10k run at a charity event or a community parade.
  • Inserting camera into a waterborne buoy as part of a school classroom project to capture data from lakes and oceans. Data includes temperatures, salinity, sunshine, wind speed and direction, wave height.
  • As part of payload on a balloon.
  • As part of a payload on a cubesat launched into low earth orbit.

If the ham radio guys are doing these things AND the hardware has become so cheap, I have to believe our process and information systems will soon have access to these type of data as well. The big guys making hardware for our information systems and process control systems will make these sorts of sensors available for our process systems real soon now if not already.

OSI Arrow Logo.png

Already 15-20 years ago a PI customer was capturing machine inspection data as part of their Q/A process in a manufacturing plant. The machine inspections were performed by a robot. The robot would position and measure, qualify, and pass parts as the parts travelled by on a conveyor. Part of the inspection process involved taking a picture and comparing it to a reference object. Sample pictures were stored in a relational database. Measurements, part IDs, and other data were stored to PI tags. The customer had a way of keying identity of pictures with the related measurements stored to PI tags. Sort of like a batch or event frame or lab record of the data.

The punch line? The customer was doing all this with a PI2 system and 1990’s Allen-Bradley PLCs.



Fast forward to today and tomorrow…. PI 2012 includes Event Frames (EF). Since early days PI3 has had blob type tags. EF and AF give us a rich way to store and link data like camera data and at the same time correlate that data with PI tags with our temperatures, pressures, flows, and other measurements. PI 3’s BLOB type tags may be a creative place to store small video or picture images (PNG or JPG type files). Larger video and picture files might be stored in a relational database, with data references pointing to these files stored in your AF system. Audio files might also be candidates for storage in PI and consumption in combination with external data.

Are you already storing picture or video or audio data?

Is there an application where you need to combine PI and data such as video, picture, or audio?

Please - Share your stories! Feel free to attach your thoughts or experiences as a comment.

Here’s an application idea –

Customer has data in PI showing start time, duration, end time, and flow rate for a flare event. The lab system has analysis of the components of the flare stream – the lab system’s data is interfaced to PI. Environmental and compliance data related to flare events are stored in a relational database and in PI. AF data references relate the external flare event data to PI elements. The customer has a request to capture picture of the flare every 30 seconds during the peak of a flare event.

What are your ideas for integrating multi-media data with process data found in your PI systems?
chuck

Sustainability Stories

Posted by chuck Employee Jun 18, 2013
This past OSIsoft Users Conference (UC 2013) featured many great talks featuring sustainability as an underlying part of their success story. While UC 2013 didn't have a separate sustainability track, sustainability was there in every customer presentation and user story. Something to think about as we continue to work through the economic recovery.

Sustainability is something we hear lots about - but often as an environmental story. The Industry and Marketing teams at OSIsoft look at Sustainability a little differently - Sustainability is about conserving your company's resources, continue to deliver products and services, and do so in our very competitive global marketplace.

One of my favorite talks at UC 2013 was Marathon's Ken Startz. Ken has spoken at previous UC and Regional Seminars and always has a great presentation to deliver. Marathon is a company committed to sustainability. Marathon is a 130 year old company who has been using PI System since 1988. Many innovations with PI over the years, most recently with Drilling data. Drilling data is critical to upstream industry, but often the data is in separate systems, sometimes these systems are isolated from each other. PI is used to integrate the data and capture more high frequency data than was available previously for wide consumption by the users of PI. An interesting observation Ken made was the following - most of the recent big benefits from PI have come from many small projects. (Reminds me of something which was a theme a few years ago at a UC - put the data in front of smart people and empower them to use the data in creative ways.)

PI Coresight was used in powerful ways by Marathon. An exciting user story was how quickly a project team was able to create a project's visualization using PI Coresight displays.

If you haven't seen or heard Ken's talk, check it out - http://www.osisoft.com/templates/item-abstract.aspx?id=9616&terms=ken%2bstartz

Use the OSIsoft website's search engine to find other talks by Ken.
chuck

E-Waste

Posted by chuck Employee Jun 7, 2013
OSIsoft hosts E-Waste recycling days at it's San Leandro headquarters on a periodic basis. It turns out to be a good way to clear dusty bits and bobs out of the offices, storage areas, and server rooms. Sometimes though, it's a sad event - Consider this box someone found -



These are tapes for layered product software and operating systems for OpenVMS machines. Most of these tapes dated back to the early and late 1990's. TK50's, TK-70s. Remember those? Also in the box are copies of distribution media for OSIsoft products on OpenVMS platform. PI2 server. PINet. Instrument System Interfaces on OpenVMS. A little sad to send all this to the recycler. Still, good to de-clutter one of our server rooms.

Want to read more about E-Waste recycling? Many articles on the subject and nearly as many service providers. Here's an example:
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2011-12-27/recycling-gadgets/52240824/1
chuck

Got OpenVMS?

Posted by chuck Employee May 23, 2013
A few years ago HP speakers at a bootcamp mentioned they had 2000 worldwide customers for OpenVMS. These were their large customers who had OpenVMS systems in mutliple geographic areas. The 2000 did not count customers who might use OpenVMS at only one or two locations. At the same bootcamp, HP anticipated OpenVMS activity until 2050. However, reports in the media suggest something has changed.

Its possible the last Integrity servers able to run OpenVMS might be the Tukwilla Itaniums (I2). The Poulson Itanium machines, shipping since November 2012, don't yet run OpenVMS. Hardware and CPU limitations are cited. HP has said porting OpenVMS to Poulson or x86 would be extremely difficult.

In April 2011, HP Integrity roadmap graphs suggested OpenVMS 8.4 sales end mid 2015, and I2 server (Tukwilla) upgrades ending 3rd quarter 2014.

Perhaps the future of OpenVMS will be on virtual emulators?

References:
HP Integrity Roadmap:
http://h30507.www3.hp.com/t5/Mission-Critical-Computing-Blog/bg-p/199/label-name/integrity%20servers

OpenVMS community @ Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&srchtype=discussedNews&gid=45805&item=242471969&type=member&trk=eml-anet_dig-b-pop_ttl-hdp&ut=2mOWtKmXTVf5M1

OracleRDB list server info:
http://www.jcc.com/listserver.htm#JCC's Oracle Rdb List Server

comp.os.vms:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/comp.os.vms/r7CluNJDbmQ
chuck

The Ascent of Windows 7

Posted by chuck Employee May 6, 2013
Sub-title: Time to upgrade our PI System's operating systems

February 2012 saw Windows 7 surpass Windows XP as the most widely used computer operating system in the world. At that time Windows 7 accounted for 42% of global desktop and laptop operating system usage. A year ago, Windows XP had slipped to less than 39%.

Gartner was estimating by end of July 2012, 60% of all computers in the world would be running Windows 7. In February 2012, Vista had already slipped to 10% or less of installed operating system base for desktops and laptops. (In the process industries it appears many companies skipped Vista - going directly from Windows XP to Windows 7.)

Microsoft mainstream support for Windows XP ended on April 2009. We all face end of Microsoft's extended support in April 2014. Is this a hardship, for some of our PI systems, yes, but perhaps it shouldn't be. Windows XP was initially released in October 2001. Windows XP SP3 is now required by many software vendors - Windows XP SP3 has been available to developers since before April 2008. Windows 7 has been shipping since 2009.

As I write this it has been a couple years since we could buy a new computer with Windows XP pre-installed from the factory. New computers we buy may have some problems running Windows XP due to lack of hardware drivers and so forth.

Fortunately most instrument system vendors already have available support for newer hardware and operating systems. We don't have to wait for end of Microsoft support before moving forward to upgrade our underlying hardware or the software systems we depend on for our plant operations, safety, quality, and information systems.

There is an opportunity cost for not maintaining and updating of our process and plant information systems. The longer we defer maintenance, the more expensive such maintenance and related improvement projects become.

When we talk about the PI System - the PI infrastructure becomes more performant and embraces more features and functionality with each major release. As you upgrade PI and the underlying interfaces and client applications, you are also moving forward.

When upgrading operating systems of the PI System - don't forget the interface nodes. These critical nodes collect and buffer data, protecting the data against loss. Yes, in some cases the interface nodes are also nodes with software from our instrument system vendors - don't forget to upgrade these software (and hardware) also. Involve and plan these upgrades with the instrument vendor.

Our IT organizations in most cases are already moving our desktop and laptop operating systems forward. Use these upgrades as an opportunity to upgrade to newer PI client software releases supported by those operating systems your IT department are deploying.

In our connected world, security should be a concern - newer operating systems and products like OSIsoft's PI 2012 are much more hardened and more secure than products from just a few years ago.

Sustaining availability of your data and system should be a concern. Skillsets to maintain and use legacy systems become fewer and harder to maintain over time. Simple failures or errors which were easy to fix a few years ago have fewer accessible resources to bring to bear today.


References:
Garner Research:
http://www.gartner.com/it/initiatives/pdf/KeyInitiativeOverview_MicrosoftWindows7andOffice.pdf
http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2434216

ARRL QST, "Ecclectic Technology", May 2012, page 59

Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_XP
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7

OSIsoft
http://techsupport.osisoft.com/techsupport/NonTemplates/roadmap.aspx
http://www.osisoft.com/software-support/what-is-pi/What_Is_PI.aspx
chuck

PI (Legacy) Guy Introduction

Posted by chuck Employee Dec 5, 2012
Who am I? Some call me the PI (legacy) guy.



I’ve been with OSIsoft 25 years plus some.  Most of these years you would have seen me in field service, tech support, and training roles.  The last 5 plus years I’ve been working with EA (Enterprise Agreement) customers, first in the Project Manager role, and more recently from the Center of Excellence.
Anybody remember this artwork?  Shortly after changing our name from Oil Systems, Inc, we adopted this artwork for our documentation, packaging, media, and web site.

Image19.gif

Yes indeed, OSI has  changed a lot in 25 years.  It’s been quite a ride and a ride we’ve enjoyed together.  It seems appropriate to look back where we have come from.  A quotation from the first PI System Manager’s Manual:

[center]Preface[/center]
The Plant Information System (PI) is a system designed to collect and analyze data.  The data is compressed and stored in an historical archive.  Months of data are available on-line for graphing, computation, and analysis.  Trend graphs allow the plotting of data using various formats.  Unit summaries provide a means of displaying numerical values for reports and for downloading data to personal computers for further analysis.  Automatically calculated performance equations can be used for correcting flows, mass and energy balances, product accounting, etc.  Complete documentation of performance equations and global constants is easy.  Interfaces are available to a variety of instrument and computer systems for automatic collection of data.  Manually entered data is well supported with a data entry form system.  User written programs may access the archive through subroutine calls for more complex data manipulation.  In summary, PI is a complete system for the long term storage and analysis of plant data.

[right](PI version 1.1, December 1986)[/right]

Who is the system manager for PI?  Another quotation from the first System Manager’s Manual:

[center]Introduction[/center]
The PI System manager is responsible for the complete operation of the system.  It is imperative for the System Manager to get familiar with all facets of the PI System operation.  This will also require knowledge of the computer’s operating system. 

The major features of the PI System relating to the System Manager are as follows:
  • Responsible for maintaining the point database and preserving the integrity of the data
  • Managing the user database, setting passwords and permission levels
  • The PI System Master Display Library and Custom Menu system are maintained by the System Manager
  • Only the System Manager can assign applications to any particular user


[right](PI version 1.1, December 1986)[/right]

It was thought originally one person would be PI System Manager and hold all these responsibilities.  Further that the System Manager would write or oversee the writing and integration of lots of “small FORTRAN programs.”  Of course, not all the programs were written in FORTRAN nor were all the programs small!  The PI System Manager would be responsible for the hardware and software maintenance contracts, the desktop devices users accessed the system with, the training and nurturing of the users. The PI System Manager would be a specialist substantially dedicated to PI.  In practice, there are lots of ways this task list gets broken down.  Lots of people within a plant site or across the corporation take on these roles and support not only the users but also each other.  So, the PI System Manager is not usually just one person, but several people across many disciplines working towards a high standard of availability for the PI System.

How does your company’s or site’s definition of PI System Manager or Administrator align or differ from OSIsoft’s 1986 vision?

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: