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Streamlining system management

Published by , Deputy Editor
Oilfield Technology,

Alan Conboy, Scale Computing, reports on how the energy sector can streamline IT management with edge computing and HCI.

Oil and gas extraction organisations, within the wider energy industry, are pivotal to the operation of nearly every other industry and our daily lives. Our global dependence on energy resources requires energy production to use the latest and most efficient technologies to meet our current and future needs for energy and environmental protections.

For oil and gas companies, it is essential that they have the ability to ramp up and support the need for increased consumption over the cold winter months as consumers increase their use of heating and electricity. In order for the industry to provide efficient operations to cope with any peaks in demand and usage, they must be able to function through reliable, powerful IT infrastructure systems.

Both sectors have a unique set of requirements for enterprise-class IT solutions that are the right size, easy to use, and can be deployed quickly and managed remotely. With this in mind, how can oil and gas companies streamline their IT management?

Scrap legacy IT infrastructure

When it comes to managing IT, many oil and gas companies have been using legacy IT environments built on costly storage servers, occupying a considerable amount of space. These systems also require IT teams to manage and maintain them, which is not always possible. This is especially true if the organisation has offshore sites in remote areas where it does not have access to the necessary experienced IT professionals and teams either on location or available at short notice.

While plenty of organisations in other industries have been turning to the public, private, or even hybrid cloud for data storage, this would not be a possibility for oil and gas companies that work offshore in remote locations such as rigs in the middle of the ocean. This is due to the less available, slow speed, and high-cost of internet connectivity through WAN infrastructure. Bearing this in mind, the logical solution is to turn to highly available, easy to deploy, space-savvy, on-premises infrastructure.

Pave the way for new technology

Plenty of oil and gas extraction organisations are now starting to deploy edge computing solutions and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to address these shortfalls and challenges specific to the energy sector and often experienced due to not refreshing their legacy infrastructure.

Edge computing and HCI provide a modern IT infrastructure that combines storage, server, hypervisor, and backup/disaster recovery into a single, small, appliance-based solution. This significantly reduces the space occupied in hosting these different services in different devices, compared to traditional infrastructure. HCI also provides the flexibility, ease of use, scalability, and self-healing architecture that creates a reliable, easy to deploy, automated, and efficient IT environment, making it ideal for oil and gas, and energy companies.

Edge computing solutions are particularly well suited to the oil and gas extraction industry and the energy provider sector where space is often at a premium and IT team resources are not always available in remote locations. Its small form factor means that it takes only a fraction of the space of a traditional IT infrastructure and is simple to manage during day-to-day operations or if data has to be recovered for any reason.

Companies in the energy sector require IT solutions which are not only enterprise class, but also simple to operate and maintain, as most do not have the ability to deploy a large team of specialist IT staff to manage overly complex infrastructure. In addition to this, companies in this industry are faced with limited space and often at a premium price, therefore by deploying HCI that combines storage, backup, disaster recovery and more in a much smaller size, they can reap the benefits of a more cost-effective and highly available IT infrastructure.

HCI and edge computing: it just works

Because of these core benefits that address the challenges unique to the oil and gas industry, companies can rely on edge computing and HCI to help streamline IT management. With the simplicity and peace of mind that HCI offers, as well as the improvements in the availability of critical workloads, and the ability to rapidly scale infrastructure and enhance disaster recovery capabilities, the reason for making the switch from legacy IT is clear.

One such example of HCI proving to be a success in this sector is Telford Offshore, a global company built on years of experience in the oil and gas industry. The company itself has to support multiple offshore activities focusing on high capacity accommodation, lifting, fabrication, and installation services. With its vessels at sea, it needs any IT to be available 24/7 and it was critical that any system deployed would be fully redundant. The company also faced a major challenge as it inherited a legacy IT environment through its acquisition, which was time-consuming to manage, costly, and complex to maintain.

For this reason, the company decided to move its IT system to hyperconverged infrastructure – as it combined everything required for its IT needs into one easy to manage appliance, all while being cost effective and efficient. In doing so, Telford Offshore found that it benefited from a simplified and reduced management time and the system was available 24/7. In addition to this, its business continuity improved by incorporating snapshot replication and backup, so the system was disaster recovery ready and future proof.

As demand for energy consumption continues to increase, so does the volume of workloads that these companies in this sector are required to handle. Hyperconverged infrastructure combined with edge computing provides an efficient, cost-effective way for the industry to tackle on-premises storage with the added benefits of backup and disaster recovery.

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