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UK Firm Drills Down With WAFS

Despite a proliferation of storage and networking products for remote offices, offshore drilling contractor Seacores offices were a bit too remote for most.

At least that was the case in 2003 when Seacore searched for software that would speed data transmission from its barges back to corporate headquarters. The U.K.-based company’s offices often consist of jack-up barges -- platforms transported to sea by freighters and quickly set up for drilling. Seacore has nine of these barges along with four ships, and three offices in the U.K. Current barges are set up as far away as Tahiti and New Zealand.

The problem is getting data gathered from these barges back to shore. Broadband isn’t an option. “Occasionally we access the Internet over a satellite link, but mostly we transmit over mobile phone,” IT manager Paul Letchford says.

Seacore didn’t even have broadband at its headquarters in the village of Gweek in Cornwall until this year. Yet transmitting data between its barges and offices in Gweek, London, and Warwick is crucial to the business. Letchford says waiting for data for a few hours can cause costly delays in offshore construction and exploration projects.

The engineers at Seacore use laptops connected via mobile phones, which sometimes ratchet down to as little as 9.6 baud. Considering their applications include AutoCAD and the larger ships run SQL Server, Seacore needed to find a reliable and efficient way to transmit data.

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