Cloud Apps Critical Requirement No 10: Liberation from Non-Strategic IT Issues

Cloud applications should free environmental managers and their company’s IT Departments and their teams from time and energy spent on non-strategic, back-office IT operations and software coding. Today and into the future, the most highly valued CIOs—the ones that become heroes to the business—are those whose actions are closely aligned with strategic business initiatives and drive the IT projects that support those initiatives.

Environmental managers and executives should be able to focus on the business processes and subject matter, and the value they bring to their organization, and not on the nuts-and-bolts of technology and IT infrastructure. If environmental managers and their departments are doing things someone else could do, like software development and maintenance, then things that only they can do are not being done. A data center is a commodity, and a company that specializes in running a data center is going to do it better than environmental or even IT department can. And that frees environmental professionals up to do what they do best, which is to focus on strategic work and innovations and find ways to provide true business value, lower the compliance cost, automate reporting, reduce environmental liability, and ultimately lower the operational cost while increasing their company’s brand value.

Cloud Apps Critical Requirement No 8: Faster Deployment

Since cloud applications do not require investments and installation of hardware and software, organizations should be able to get them running and productive in a fraction of the time compared to on-premises software. This is particularly true for complex environmental and sustainability information management and compliance applications. On day one, customers are able to look at demonstration data, and very quickly after that they can test their data in a SaaS system to see how it looks and works.

Multi-tenant SaaS deployments are highly iterative and collaborative with the customer, and a provider’s deployment staff should be skilled down to the most minute of tasks.
With multi-tenant, configurable cloud applications, the coding is outsourced. With the DOE implementation of Locus, for example, the business side of the organization was able to play a significant role in leading the project, which let the customer focus its finite IT resources on data, integrations, and working with the business team to ensure technology and processes were aligned. In a configurable cloud application environment, once the processes and training are in place, you turn it on. It is that simple.

Locus Introduces New Platform for Environmental Enterprise Resource Planning

The new Locus platform offers a highly configurable, user-friendly interface to fully meet individual organizations’ environmental management needs

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 21 October 2013 — Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental and sustainability management software, introduces its newest platform to redefine how companies organize, manage, visualize, and report their environmental, sustainability, and compliance information.

Today, environmental, sustainability, and energy managers for organizations of all sizes face myriad options from software suppliers offering various single-domain applications. Challenged with an ever-evolving regulatory landscape, these managers must select a software provider that can adapt to new compliance constraints and the constant changes of existing regulations, often with multijurisdictional requirements; unfortunately, most software suppliers have rigid platforms or applications that fail to keep up with constantly changing needs, are hard to integrate, and are often obsolete before they are even implemented.

To address this industry challenge, the company designed the new Locus platform to provide rich functionality in a simple way so that it would be easy for customers to make the most of their data management and reporting requirements. In addition, the new platform helps companies avoid many of the costs generally associated with implementing traditional software systems thanks to its simple setup, navigation, and configuration options, thereby eliminating the need for expensive implementations, user training, and customizations.

Locus addressed common barriers to using environmental management software when designing the new Locus platform. Specifically, Locus conducted a gap analysis of current software offerings. It identified challenges through feedback from its end users and other industry professionals, and through customer surveys conducted by several industry research analysts’ firms over the last two years. Specifically, users were wary of complex and expensive systems and implementations; a rigid regulatory environment for businesses that made adapting to new systems costly and complicated; and integration of a new platform with legacy systems.

The resulting Locus platform offers an intuitive interface with the immense flexibility to incorporate features such as drag-and-drop forms creation, visual business-process modeling, Excel import/export integration, and a rich and configurable user dashboards and reporting interface. Locus created every feature with the end user in mind to promote quick and easy data capture and task management. Finally, customers should see significant savings over traditional software offerings both at the time of implementation and over the long term. Because the Locus platform’s system, upgrades, and maintenance are cloud-based rather than configured on individual user workstations, while users can configure the way they use the software, they do not need to pay for customization at the individual level.

“We listened to industry users and created configurable dashboards that are clean, dynamically driven, easy to read, and easy to access. This platform will improve companies’ data collection, analysis, and most importantly, reporting capabilities,” said Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus. “The new Locus platform will make the required compliance and EH&S reporting expected of most companies more streamlined. The end result is the mitigation of regulatory risks and fines.”

The launch of the latest Locus platform follows the same guidelines and goals that the company established during the original inception of ePortal in 2000. This version is the latest embodiment of Locus’ industry differentiation: to offer an integrated solution so that companies can manage all of their environmental, energy, water, waste, carbon, air, health and safety, and compliance information in one place.

“We’ve updated the platform based on industry wants and needs,” remarked Duplan. “This isn’t a product of different solutions pieced together to look like one; it is the ‘whole solution.’ We have always created our products in this same vein because it means less time to configure, less time to implement, and far fewer support requirements. And it means a dramatically lower cost than customers have seen in the past with the ERP providers or point solutions from different vendors. Budget has long been a barrier to implementation and we are stepping up to the plate to solve that problem.”

Locus will conduct the first live demonstrations of the new platform at the Locus booth at the National Association for Environmental Management 2013 EHS Management Forum from October 23-25 in Montreal.

Cloud Apps Critical Requirement No. 4: Business-Driven Configurability

Cloud computing applications should be configurable, so your IT organization is freed from costly customizations, and business people can configure processes that meet the specific needs of the organization.

The greatest self-inflicted wound customers make is allowing too much customization to software they run on premises. It gets down to how customer balances freedom versus order. Customization is all about freedom, but if you go too far down that road, you lose order. At Locus, we have found that configurable environmental software lets an organization balance freedom and order. A configurable cloud application should include a catalog of industry standard choices, so that it becomes apparent how much time and cost has gone into a company’s previous efforts to customize software just because “a process has always been done that way” . With customizations, customers often are not designing for business processes, they are designing for personalities.

One of the myths of SaaS is that since it is in the cloud, it is one-size-fits-all, but that could not be further from the truth. Real SaaS solutions should not only be configurable for the company, but in different ways for different parts of a company. Many Locus customers with global footprints, for example, require different carbon management processes for different countries, which they can configure in Locus SaaS without the need for customizations. Similarly, customers can configure Locus to deliver DMR and other reports differently for different state requirements or different customer requirements.

Cloud Apps Critical Requirement No. 3: Seamless Integration On Demand

A cloud application provider worth doing business with will share the burden of integration with its customers versus leaving them on their own. Cloud providers should make an integration infrastructure and integration tools available, assist its customers with integrations, and develop a partner ecosystem that includes consultants, integrators, and other software and SaaS companies.

At Locus, we believe seamless integration between our products and other products and services is another opportunity to transfer even more cost and complexity occurring within customers’ data centers into the cloud. We’ve developed, and will continue to develop, tools for customers and partners to build their integrations, and the infrastructure in our cloud to execute them. Customers can control the execution of integrations without baring the complexity of managing the infrastructure.

2012 Railroad Environmental Conference: Environmental Management in the Cloud

I recently travelled to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to attend and present at the 2012 Railroad Environmental Conference. Held on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, the conference was a great opportunity to both learn more about the railroad industry’s environmental programs, and to share my knowledge with this industry on managing environmental, energy, emissions and air quality information in the Cloud.

For the railroad industry, as well as many others, information management is the key driver behind all aspects of environmental management, costs and performance. The larger railroads in particular already own millions of analytical, geological, and other types of records across a portfolio of sites. However, because these records are scattered across various silo systems that neither the companies nor their consultants can easily access, this data cannot be effectively mined for actionable information, and what can’t be measured can’t be managed.

As opposed to numerous silo systems that can cause redundancy, general usability confusion, and errors in your data, the use of a centralized, web-based software application can bring about a variety of benefits. Some quantitative benefits can include about 40 to 60% of total environmental reporting and laboratory program management cost savings, determining trends and identifying sites that can be monitored less frequently and wells that can be decommissioned earlier than first expected, and identifying inefficiencies in sampling programs that can be optimized to save money. In addition, management in the Cloud allows you to pay for only what you use with no hardware to procure, no costly up-front license fee, and no complex set-up.

Although a bit harder to grasp, the qualitative benefits of organizing environmental information in the cloud are eminent, and should not be underestimated. Because every decision you make about your sites is dependent on the quality of your data, it’s essential that you have full ownership of it. The use of a centralized, web-based system instills uniform processes across your organization and its consultants, reduces the cycle time for data loading, validation, management, and reporting, and assures that your data will be error free. It also opens up various windows of opportunities to improve other processes like lab management, EDD loading, data validation, automated reporting, and long term archiving.

Environmental Business Journal Interview with Locus CEO

Locus Technologies Shifts Towards Support for Clients’ Strategic Needs

LANL Sends Environmental Management to the Cloud

Locus Technologies claimed the contract to manage the LANL’s lab data in their cloud was worth up to $2 million.

EIM Software to Manage Hydro Fracturing Data

Locus Technologies has expanded its flagship product EIM to manage data and information for natural gas exploration and production sites that use hydro fracturing technologies to extract gas from shale.

The relatively new drilling method for natural gas extraction — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas. Anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of the water sent down the well during hydrofracking returns to the surface, carrying drilling chemicals, very high levels of salts and, at times, naturally occurring radioactive material. According to recent NY Times article, there were more than 493,000 active natural-gas wells in the United States in 2009, almost double the number in 1990. Around 90 percent have used hydrofracking to get more gas flowing, according to the drilling industry.

For the natural gas industry to stay in compliance with ever stricter laws to protect drinking water supplies and air emissions, drilling companies need software tools to organize hydrofracking waste data in order to demonstrate to the public and regulators that hydrofracking activities are not endangering natural resources. They also need to prove that any dangerous waste from the wells is handled in compliance with state and federal laws. Although hydrofracking has been used for decades, the technology has become more powerful and more widely used in recent years, producing far more wastewater and attracting much more public and regulatory scrutiny.

Nearly all of the activities associated with hydrocracking, including the assessment of site characteristics, the ongoing monitoring of site conditions and air emissions, and the remediation of adverse environmental impacts, involve the collection and/or analysis of large quantities of data. The specialized software to organize, manage, validate, visualize, store, and report this information formerly did not exist until Locus expanded its award winning, web-based EIM software to provide industry with the necessary tools to do so.

This expanded module in EIM was specifically designed to meet the hydrofracturing industry’s needs for managing subsurface and water quality data that include both analytical chemistry, waste, and radionuclides. Since EIM has been deployed in the Cloud for over ten years at many similar oil and gas exploration sites and nuclear facilities nationwide, the system provides for rapid deployment, an unmatched level of functionality and data security, an extensive set of QC/QC standards, and scalability.

The hydrofracking industry has been in the spotlight in recent months and Locus wanted to provide this business sector with a tool to prove its case to the public and regulators that natural gas production using hydrofacking can be done safely and transparently. As such, we expanded our software offerings to manage and visualize water, waste, wastewater, drilling fluids, radionuclides and air emissions more effectively over the web.  We felt that the market needed an off-the-shelf tool targeted to manage hydrofracking data, being that is subject to a different set of state and federal regulatory guidance. Locus’s software provides any natural gas production site that has a need for data management and reporting—and almost all have—the necessary functionality to meet these requirements.

Water quality and waste management are not the only issues at hydrofracking sites. Air pollution caused by natural-gas drilling is a growing threat, too. Locus ePortal software when combined with EIM provides a comprehensive compliance solution for the natural gas industry to manage contaminants in all media ( water, soil, and air) in a single, integrated  system through a Single Sign On (SSO).

EIM, Locus’ Environmental Information Management software, is the world’s largest commercial on-demand environmental data management system. EIM completely replaces existing stand-alone data systems and reporting tools to provide a comprehensive integrated solution to one of the environmental industries’ most vexing problems – the centralization and management of complex data pertaining to contaminated water, groundwater, soil, and/or air. EIM provides for the complete electronic processing of analytical data, beginning with the upload of electronic data deliverables from labs, and terminating in state-mandated or federal regulatory exports and reporting. EIM is deployed through Software as a Service (SaaS) model that eliminates most of the difficulties associated with the adoption of a new technology, while offering the opportunity for more rapid customization to meet the ever-changing needs of its user population. The system currently stores over 120 million records for over 15,000 sites worldwide.

Locus Receives SAS 70 Certification

Locus Cloud Computing Environmental Software Platform SAS 70 Certified

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 18 January 2011 — Locus Technologies, the industry leader in web-based environmental compliance and information management software, announced that it has been certified as compliant with the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70: Service Organizations (SAS 70).

Locus passed an in-depth audit of its control objectives activities pertaining to database management and information technology. The certification places Locus in a rare category among environmental data management providers to have attained the rigorous classification. In today’s risk-management environment, it is essential that service providers like Locus demonstrate that they have adequate controls and safeguards in place so customers can be confident that their data are safe.

“By becoming SAS 70 certified, Locus shows that we are not only in compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but that we hold the security of our customers’ data paramount,” said Dr. Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus Technologies.

“Whether your environmental data are currently hosted by another provider, or you’re searching for a company to manage your data, your company should demand evidence that your data are safe and protected by a highly controlled process. We are pleased to know that our customers’ environmental data for water, sustainability, emissions, and greenhouse gas data have been deemed to be in full compliance with SAS 70,” continued Duplan.

In addition to being SAS 70 certified, Locus requires that its key suppliers also comply with SAS 70 standards. For example, Locus’ data center and cloud hosting provider have been certified recently to have processes and safeguards in place. These safeguards are designed to protect Locus’ assets and data that reside in the company’s managed hosting services data center. A service auditor’s examination—performed in accordance with SAS No. 70 Type II—is widely recognized because it confirms that a service organization has been through an in-depth audit of its control objectives and activities, which includes controls over information technology services and related processes.

Completion of the SAS 70 Type II examination of Locus’ managed hosting data center proves that an independent accounting and auditing firm has formally evaluated the company’s processes, procedures, and controls. The examination included controls related to service delivery, support services, security, monitoring, change management, data backup, environmental controls, and logical and physical access.

SAS 70 is designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an acceptable method for an organization’s management to obtain assurance about a third-party service organization’s internal controls without conducting a separate assessment.

As the world’s most comprehensive on-demand software for organizing environmental data and information, Locus is the partner of choice for all organizations that seek a credible and cost-effective solution to their energy and environmental management and reporting needs.