July 16, 2016

The Storage Challenges of the Oil and Gas Industry

Big oil is making a comeback and it will require more investment in technology.

After slashing over a trillion dollars in costs amid plunging crude oil costs, Chevron, BP and Exxon are now collectively investing an additional $45 billion to expand existing drilling projects.

In order to stage the comeback, oil and gas companies need to obtain and analyze more information to remain competitive. Dozens of new data points such as 3D seismic charts, drill head statistics, historic well and field data and lease maps are readily available and need to be analyzed in real-time. The amount of data stored and in use by Oil & Gas firms is growing exponentially as better technologies become available to capture more detailed information. Data needs to be captured quickly, analyzed in real time and acted upon as soon as possible if a company wants to maintain its competitive edge, increase net worth and profitability.

To discover new fuel resources, investments are made in the latest seismic and visualization software along with other newly available technologies. These technologies help oil and gas compa­nies improve production by up to 10%, or millions of dollars of profits. The oil and gas industry uses data analytics to make strategic and tactical decisions.

The challenge is that data is coming in from many sources and needs to be collected, analyzed and made consumable for decision makers.

Data analytics delivers huge financial benefits to Oil and Gas but it places more demands on the IT infrastructure. The amount of data is significantly larger (2x to 5x). And the acceptable time to process this data has gone from hours, to minutes and is now real-time. These real-time analytical results need to be immediately delivered to the decision makers and to other processes to ensure an oil and gas company continues to profit.

As oil and gas companies expand their real-time analytical capabilities, IT departments are investing in more servers and faster networks. As it relates to storage, nearly all are adapting solid state storage systems.

High performance – low latency

The latest wave of storage systems are 100% comprised of solid state drives and no longer use hard drives. These solid state storage systems are considered the fastest systems available. A 1U solid state storage system is capable of supporting over half a million IOPs per second and has latencies under 500 nanoseconds (half a microsecond). Capacities range from a couple of TBs to a dozen TBs in 1U. This type of performance and capacity are critical for oil and gas companies as they search for technology that can convert raw data into consumable results for their decision makers.

Continuous access

Oil and Gas is, without question, a 24×7 industry. Whether deployed in the datacenter or in the field aboard exploratory ships or vehicles, IT systems need to be rugged, redundant and continually available. An SSD’s physical reliability in hostile environments is clearly better than HDDs given SSDs lack mechanical parts like HDDs. SSDs will survive extreme cold and heat, drops, and multiple G’s. HDDs may fail prematurely under similar conditions.

BiTMICRO® is one of the premier suppliers of SSDs to the Department of Defense and Industrial Customers, including Oil and Gas

We understand why SSD durability and reliability are critical to these segments, but how about solid state storage systems? Larger capacity, higher performing storage systems may not need to withstand the same harsh environments as individual SSDs but they still need to be accessible 24×7. To help ensure continuous access, solid state storage systems should be equipped with dual redundant network ports, data redundancy with software RAID to protect against single drive failures and dual redundant hot swappable power supplies. With this level of redundancy, solid state storage systems can ensure an extremely high level of continuous availability.

Simple to deploy and maintain

Whether located in the datacenter or in the field, solid state storage systems need to be simple. Many systems are very complex and require that staff be trained on how to use them properly. They also include service and maintenance agreements that can exceed the cost of the system itself.

Solid state storage systems deployed throughout the oil and gas industry shouldn’t be difficult to use and maintain. IT professionals may not be available to service systems, which mean local administrators will need to perform needed tasks. Systems should use ubiquitous interfaces like iSCSI or NAS for simple installation. Remote access is also an important feature so IT can gain access to systems and configure them from another location if needed. For simple maintenance, solid state drives within the storage system should be replaceable from the front. Storage systems should rebuild the new drive without user intervention. Failed power supplies should not cause a system outage and be easy to replace. A well thought out system should have all these features to make deployment and maintenance very simple.

The BiTMICRO MAXio® All Flash Array meets all these criteria

The BiTMICRO MAXio All Flash Array boasts 12TBs of usable capacity powered by 20 x 800GB SSDs. It meets all the reliability and ease of user requirements and is simple to deploy and maintain. Its performance is well over half a million IOPs using iSCSI/NAS or FC interfaces. The 1U array is fully redundant and designed to meet the extreme demands of the oil and gas industry.

Writer: Zophar Sante, Business Development
Date: 7/16/2016

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