Engineer serves up accelerated efficiency

Developers at engineering services multinational Worley claim adopting Windows Server 2003 has doubled the throughput of their .Net applications over their previous Windows 2000 Server system.

Worley provides intellectual property like documents and CAD drawings, which are mostly computer generated, to advise its customers on engineering projects in industries such as oil and gas, chemicals, minerals, metals, power and water. These customers include giants like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Shell and Woodside.

Worley will roll out Windows Server 2003 to manage the IT systems of its 37 offices across 14 countries, totalling 130 servers and 4000 desktops. Worley’s data centre and 70 of these servers are based in Perth.

So far, Worley’s IT headquarters in Perth, which has an IT staff of 23 – including seven developers – has seven servers running Windows Server 2003.

The company uses .Net applications in data warehousing, a reporting repository, and CV management. A .Net-based proposal initiation application is being rolled out now. The application helps track every proposal Worley makes for an engineering services contract. According to Forte, the application uses SQL workflow services to create a project number and assign details to that proposal, as well as transfer information to Worley's accounting systems. Before this, Worley used a basic Web application with no workflow management.

A keen early adopter of Microsoft software, Worley’s development team started using Visual Studio .Net in its beta form about a year and a half ago, according to Worley global IT manager Vito Forte.

“Our developers said it took them about a month to get up to speed with .Net, and then a few months was the average development time,” Forte said.

While the decision to move to the new server was based on uptime and not application development, Forte said the company’s developers were excited about future .Net development.

Stability and network throughput with .Net applications were two of the main benefits Worley’s development team had noticed since the introduction of the new server, Forte said.

“Another thing is when you’re setting up these boxes the old secure by default system is gone. This way the developers get a clean box to work with,” he said.

While Forte said Worley will continue to develop .Net applications only where there is a business case for them, the company's trialling of Microsoft’s upcoming CRM software could see more .Net development soon.

“We’ve had Microsoft’s CRM running and our developers [are saying], 'look at all these Web services we can tap into'. There’s things like e-mail management and things that help the development cycle,” said Forte.

While there are many CRM products in the market, Forte said he was a strong believer in the ‘keep it simple’ approach, and if a CRM offering didn’t support .Net it would only make it harder on Worley’s developers.

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