Building Warships With ‘On Demand’ Supply Chains

In a win for Big Blue’s “on-demand” strategy, General Dynamics’ Electric
Boat shipbuilding division has awarded IBM a multi-year
contract to provide what is called the shipbuilding industry’s first
Internet-based supply chain network.

IBM is expected to provide on-demand computing infrastructure to help
Electric Boat automate its supply chain by linking up partners, suppliers
and other shipyards on a single, integrated platform.

The idea is to help Electric Boat build warships and submarines faster by integrating
its suppliers in an integrated Web-based network.

Financial terms were not released. The contract announcement arrives as
IBM launches a new advertising campaign to raise awareness of its on-demand
strategy of offering utility-like business computing services to enterprise
clients.

As outlined in a speech last October by IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano, Big
Blue’s on-demand
computing services
includes offering data center services like a
utility, and basing those services on open standards that underpin
integrated systems imbued with self-healing (autonomic) capabilities.

The term on-demand includes integration of legacy applications via
middleware, deploying open standards that let different platforms “speak” to
one another, and using autonomic (self-diagnostic) hardware as part of
piping in computing capacity enterprise customers can use to scale up and
down, depending on fluctuating IT needs.

Among the industries seen as ripe for integrating more IP protocols into
their supply chain processes is shipbuilding, which experts say to a large
extent still relies on paper-based ordering for supplies.

The contract with General Dynamics calls for IBM to host and manage a
turnkey supply chain network for Electric Boat, which includes using secure
Web portals where business partners can trade supply information.

In this case, Electric Boat is expected to will pay a monthly usage fee
for IBM’s hosting services, based on the number of registered users,
suppliers and business processes deployed on certain shipbuilding contracts.

IBM has dubbed the hosting services SPARS (Shipbuilding Partners and
Suppliers) On Demand, which focuses on building IT architecture based on
open standards that help customers quickly add more users and business
processes, regardless of their computing platform.

IBM said the agreement with Electric Boat is the first commercial result
of its work with the National Shipbuilding
Research Program (NSRP)
, a collaboration of 11 U.S. shipyards working to
reduce the cost of warships they build for the U.S. Navy.

Big Blue has been a long-time provider of IT products to the U.S
shipbuilding industry, and is active in NSRP projects. NSRP is sponsored by
the Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command.

The goal of the group is to apply new technology in order to improve
shipbuilding efficiency and improve collaboration and information exchange
among shipbuilders and their suppliers.

IBM’s SPARS On Demand service will be using IBM’s Websphere middleware,
DB2 database and Tivoli Security Management software, which will run on
IBM’s eServer x series in a hosted environment.

Shipyards subscribing to the IBM SPARS service will receive all required
installation, operations, systems administration, maintenance and support as
well as security, supplier registration and document management, IBM said.
Plus, it is throwing in a host of secure connectivity options and
integration services for legacy systems.

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