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Bureau of Meteorology signs IBM in AU$4.7m asset management deal

Part of the Bureau's ROBUST IT overhaul program.
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Written by Asha Barbaschow, Journalist on

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has been undertaking what it has called a comprehensive rebuild of its IT systems and related business processes and applications, which are focused on addressing security and resilience risks.

Known as ROBUST, the program is aimed at securing and strengthening all elements of the Bureau's operating environment to provide "continuous availability of critical services that mitigate the risks arising from the fragility of the existing ICT environment".

BoM has been tight-lipped on its project, but tender documents released in August showed that within ROBUST, there are five delivery streams that will deliver core technology platforms to the Bureau, including infrastructure, data and integration, observation network, channels, and applications.

The Bureau is aiming to improve its asset information collection and use, turning to IBM for help with supporting the entire gamut of asset management under ROBUST, forming part of the observations network delivery stream.

See also: Australian government is currently juggling 62 high-cost IT projects

A new AU$4.7 million deal has been inked with IBM to implement an enterprise asset management platform, hosted on the IBM Cloud. The IBM Maximo system is expected to support the delivery of services and efficiently manage the Bureau's assets. 

According to IBM AI applications executive David Small, asset management in the BoM context covers everything the Bureau needs to record to support providing weather information to businesses and consumers.

"All the things that they need to record -- people go out in the field, routine inspections -- how they did that previously was a combination of systems and the idea behind the ROBUST program and having a centralised asset management system was to move into a system that can support the lifecycle of managing all those physical assets that are needed to support the business," Small told ZDNet.

The IBM Maximo system pulls all of that information, organises it, and delivers it in a consistent way for BoM.

"It doesn't matter what asset class you define, Maximo has the ability to manage and support all classes of assets. So whether it's physical assets, whether it's buildings, whether it's poles and wires, rail track, or what we call linear assets, whether its fleet, and not that we have a need for it in Australia, but we also support nuclear assets," Small explained. "Maximo from an asset management point of view is designed to support all classes of assets in the lifecycle."

The initial contract with BoM is for three years, covering the SaaS offering running on IBM Cloud. The scope of it is referred to as the foundation platform, which is the core asset management system, designed to improve planning and scheduling.

"It also talks about the mobile work execution," Small said. "So with their asset audits, stocktake, the ability to work, both online and offline, because obviously, a lot of the their assets around the country are in remote locations. So that's the first phase of what we're doing."

Small said there are later phases planned, but go-live for the Maximo system is slated for 2021.

During Senate Estimates in October, BoM CEO and director of Meteorology Andrew Johnson said his agency was moving into the third stage of ROBUST, with funding provided in the 2020-21 Budget

"The third and final tranche is commencing, we're obviously in the process of commercial discussions with a range of players," Johnson said at the time, noting commercial discussions would conclude over a period of at least the next 18 months to two years.

In July 2018, IBM signed a five-year agreement with the federal government, giving the multinational AU$1 billion to be a whole-of-government "technology partner".

See also: IBM banks on strong history for success with AU$1b government contract

Small told ZDNet from an AI apps perspective, he has seen a much higher propensity from a state and federal government level for cloud.

"I would say in the last two years, at least 90% of RFPs and tenders that I've responded to, a mandatory requirement, not an optional requirement, has been they wanted a SaaS offering run on the cloud, hosted in Australia," he said.

Another government entity, the Department of Parliamentary Services, is also in the process of implementing an e-invoicing solution from IBM.

Treasury also went live with a new e-invoicing solution, turning to Australian software company TechnologyOne. The new system sees the government entity paying suppliers within a five day turn around.

TechnologyOne said it worked with Treasury, alongside the Australian Taxation Office, for a year to develop the solution.

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