Microsoft Increases Its Commitment to Energy and Utilities Industry

DALLAS, Nov. 5, 1997 — At the Society of Exploration Geophysicists international exposition and annual meeting today, Microsoft Corp. announced the formation of a new vertical industry practice focused on the energy and utilities industry. The company also announced that Hillman Mitchell, a 15-year veteran of the energy industry, has been appointed as global energy industry marketing manager heading the new effort.

“From reducing the cost of finding, producing, refining and selling petroleum to transition to a deregulated, market-driven model in the gas and electric utilities business, the energy industry faces several challenges propelled by increasing competition and demand,” Mitchell said. “To address the dynamic nature of deregulation, restructuring, joint ventures, mergers and global exploration, companies must leverage technology to improve performance and to deal effectively with complex business decision-making processes.”

“The energy business provides a stern test for technology solution providers,” said Britt Mayo, director of information technology at Pennzoil Co., a global producer of crude oil and natural gas, and manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality lubricants. “To be successful, they must support computationally intense calculations, high-end graphical modeling and visualization, real-time process control, large-scale database management and business-critical transaction processing using a wide variety of third-party software packages in a globally distributed interorganizational environment. Few companies have the range necessary to cover this gamut and integrate it with familiar end-user tools. Microsoft offers a consistent foundation that can be deployed at all levels, from discovering energy sources beneath the Earth’s surface to the delivery of products and services to consumers.”

Microsoft’s new energy practice will reside in the company’s newly formed application developers customer unit (ADCU). In response to growing customer demand for innovative applications using the Microsoft® Windows NT® operating system and the Microsoft BackOffice® family, Microsoft formed ADCU in July 1997 to globally expand its evangelism and technical support for independent software vendors (ISVs) and key influencers in the business applications-buying process.

In nearly 20 targeted vertical industry sectors and horizontal business solution areas, the new division focuses its efforts on evangelizing corporate and professional developers and forging strong relationships with global ISVs. In addition to energy, the division also focuses on financial services, health care, government, retail, distribution and manufacturing, and on the horizontal markets of electronic commerce, accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer management and knowledge management, among other areas.

“As our customers increasingly compete on a global basis, they need not only a world-class platform, but also specific classes of applications that manage their unique business processes,” Mitchell said. “Microsoft works with worldwide ISVs to provide customers in businesses of all sizes with industry-specific technology platforms. Based on industry-driven standards, these platforms allow customers to deploy mission-critical, line-of-business applications at a fraction of the cost and at higher levels of performance than similar applications running on mainframe or midrange platforms.”

Microsoft is working with a growing number of energy-specific ISVs that are migrating their current solutions, or building new applications, to take advantage of the cost savings and performance gains of the open Windows NT and BackOffice platform.

ISVs such as OSI Software Inc., a company specializing in plant information systems for industrial facilities, are finding compelling reasons to focus their development efforts on the Windows NT platform.

“We are the largest supplier of data acquisition systems in the United Sates for the refining, power, and pulp and paper industries and have been shipping the Windows NT-based version of our software for two years. The move to Windows NT was one of the best we have made,” said Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, president, OSI Software Inc. “We ship approximately 300 new systems per year to companies such as Amoco, Chevron, Mobil, Georgia Pacific, Entergy, Commonwealth Edison and Duke Energy. Windows NT has grown as the choice of our customers from 35 percent of shipments in 1996 to more than 60 percent this year. This is clear evidence that there is really no choice but Windows NT for driving an industrial desktop. It is the most cost-effective platform, customers prefer it, it integrates seamlessly with the Microsoft Windows desktop and it’s more functional and robust than any other platform.”

Hillman Mitchell was formerly managing consultant of the Houston Microsoft consulting services practice. Before joining Microsoft, Mitchell held a variety of positions at Conoco Inc., including senior analyst for architecture and infrastructure for advanced process control systems and computer scientist for exploration research in the upstream market.

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