Karl Horner deciphers jargon used in CAFM

Karl Horner

Karl Horner

PFM Magazine feature a Jargon Buster compiled for them by FSI technical Director, Karl Horner. Tech Talk has invaded the FM World as IT-based solutions become more sophisticated. Applied intelligently, these solutions can increase efficiencies, cut costs and open up a whole new world of opportunities. But intelligent solutions need to be intelligible. Welcome to the jargon buster compiled by Karl Horner, technical director of FSI, the workplace solutions company. Karl has taken care not to bamboozle readers, but admits that he had to get his thinking cap on to explain in lay terms some of those words that can so easily slip off the tongue of CAFM professionals. "The point is that no matter what language is used, the solution needs to meet the clients need," he says. "Too many players in the CAFM market rely on a string of buzz words, yet often do not bother to either explain what they really mean or even examine if the language is appropriate. The danger with 'tech-speak' is that clients can sometimes become mesmerised and feel that the consultant must know what they are talking about. Wrong. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask! The real dummy is someone who does not examine the true sense of the words being used to describe the best solution since sliced bread, or it could be the thin end of the wedge for the 'fat client'." Here is PFM's glossary of the Top 10 terms used in the world of computer aided facilities management so that next time you are lost for words, use the PFM glossary to translate buzz words into user friendly information: Web Services - (or XML Web Services) In the broadest possible sense, web services are an attempt to use XML (Extensible Markup Language) to build distributed information processing systems that work across the Internet without necessarily requiring a browser as the client. Web Services provide a standard messaging protocol for communications between computer programs. In short, it allows more flexible web-based communication between computers. Web services are being advocated by Microsoft and Sun as the standard for Internet application design. Web service technology allows applications to be constructed using multiple XML Web Services from various sources that work together regardless of where they reside or how they are implemented. It will not necessarily deliver the FM any specific short-term benefits unless the integration and software development is a key component to a CAFM implementation, but in the longer term, Web Services will provide CAFM Vendors with a development environment that will allow them to use different languages on a variety of platforms to communicate with each other in a standards-based way, which in turn will protect any investments in CAFM software. GPRS - General Packet Radio Service Sometimes referred to as 2.5G - designed to bridge the gap between existing GSM 2G technology and the soon to arrive UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) 3G technology - GPRS is the next generation of mobile data communications that provides a permanent connection to the Internet. GPRS exploits packet-switching technology where data is dispatched in short bursts over an IP (Internet Protocol)- based network. It also provides quick session set up and fast data transmission speeds. GPRS is ideal for WAP (Wireless application Protocol) services and delivers cost savings to both mobile operators and consumers because GPRS radio resources are only needed while transferring the message. That means you only pay for the time it takes to download and thereby save money. The aim of UMTS is to implement terminal mobility and personal mobility within its systems, providing a single world mobile standard. ASP - Application Service Provision/Provider An application service provider offers individuals or enterprises access to applications and related services over the Internet, which would otherwise have to be located in their own personal or enterprise computers. ASP services, sometimes referred to as "apps-on-tap", are expected to become a significant preference for smaller companies with low IT budgets and for larger companies as a form of outsourcing. CMMS - Computerised Maintenance Management System CMMS applications offer greater functionality at the engineering level often including condition-based monitoring of critical equipment combined with predictive technologies such as vibration analysis and thermal imaging. P2P - Peer to Peer P2P is a computing environment that pools processing power, memory and applications for many computers, providing decentralised computing where each computer can communicate with each other without the need for reliance on central servers or a local area network. P2P applications include:
  • Collaborative Computing - the physical CPU (central processing unit) and memory of many disparate computers is used to provide a combined processing power.
  • Instant messaging - a communication channel for text messages direct to another individual, bypassing central servers.
  • Affinity Communities - file sharing applications that work outside the boundaries of a typical organisation's central file servers and provide capability for searching other companies for documents and data.
RCM - Reliability Centred Maintenance RCM methodology originated in the aviation industry and these days is well recognised as the methodology for preventative maintenance planning (PMP). CTI - Computer Telephony Integration CTI integrates telephone and computer functionality to provide a range of integrated business applications particularly suitable for call centre operations. CTI significantly improves the efficiency of call centre operations whilst meeting customer requirements for a fast and reliable service by combining the data processing power of the computer with the convenience of the telephone. Other common CTI acronyms include:
  • IVR - Integrated Voice Response Systems - using a touchtone telephone to interact with a database to acquire information from or enter data into a database, as for example, in obtaining personal account information from banks and credit card companies.
  • TAPI - Telephony Application Programming Interface - Standard development architecture that allows computers and telephone systems to interact and provides a consistent and common interface between different media (voice, data, fax, video, etc.) on a wide range of hardware platforms.
CAFM Technical Architecture CAFM systems functionality must fit the FM's requirements but its software architecture may also need to fit the organisation IT infrastructure. A brief glossary of different architectures and some examples of how each may be implemented includes:
  • Client/Server describes the relationship between two computer programs in which one program, the client, makes a service request from another program, the server, which fulfils the request. Typically Client Server within CAFM describes a typicalWIN32 application that is loaded on your local PC acting as the client making requests to the RDBMS (relational Data Base Management System) which acts as the server.
  • a 3-tier application is organised into three major parts, each of which is distributed to a different network location. Within CAFM it is typically represented in Intranet style software solutions where the three tiers are the Browser (GUI), Web server (Business Logic) and the Database.
  • Thin client is a current buzzword within CAFM as the ASP (application Service Provision) model begins to gain popularity. In context of CAFM, Thin Client tends to be associated with software solutions that run and execute applications delivered over the network, but it is also increasingly used for computers, such as network computers and Net PCs that are designed to serve as the client for client/server architectures. A Thin Client is a network computer without a hard disk, whereas a FAT client includes a disk drive.
EAM - Enterprise Asset Management EAM is associated with certain types of CAFM and CMMS systems. Many of the larger research and analyst houses such as Gartner define qualifying criteria for CAFM systems to be considered as EAM. Typically the customers of CAFM vendors also need to be qualified with specific turnover and investment in maintenance expenditure. Benchmarking - CAFM systems need to be flexible enough to assist an FM's Benchmarking activities and produce necessary comparative Key Performance Indicators (KPI's). Several types of benchmarking exist but CAFM Systems need to be able to support the information required to assist internal, explorative, comparative and Best Practice benchmarking activities.