Houston Energy

Geoscientists store prospecting data on NAS, where one breakdown could cost millions of dollars

December 31, 2003

2 Min Read
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When using a computer workstation to find potential oil wells, more than the data is seismic. So is the reaction when its lost.

That’s why Houston Energy’s network administrator Paul Davis knew his NAS system had to be reliable. A geoscientist who just lost data that could lead to an oil well is not a happy prospector.

“A guy might be prospecting in GeoFrame for months, and he might find data that leads to an oil well. If he loses that, he loses a lot of work, not to mention a prospect,” Davis says. “That makes a geoscientist real unhappy. There’s the potential for millions of dollars.”

Davis kept that in mind when building his new NAS this year. He was unhappy with his previous system from Procom Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: PRCME) because of frequent problems and poor support, and his network needed a great deal of extra space after purchasing millions of dollars' worth of oil prospecting data.

Davis settled on an EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) Celerra NAS, attracted by its multiple disk technology, which let him mix Fibre Channel drives for resource-intensive data with ATA drives for the rest. He says the offerings from Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and smaller companies didn't offer the same combination.“The multiple disk technology gives you an advantage because you don’t have to pay for the speed of Fibre Channel when you don’t need it,” he says. “If you don’t need the speed of Fibre Channel, why incur the costs of Fibre Channel?”

Houston Energy’s NAS consists of EMC Celerra NS600 with four Windows servers, four UNIX servers, and an Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) database serving the Schlumberger Ltd. GeoFrame suite of scientific applications. The GeoFrame suite is an integrated reservoir characterization system that delivers tools to increase the productivity and efficiency of geophysical interpretation processes. The NAS supports 26 geoscientists running GeoFrame on Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) Ultra workstations. Houston Energy uses Spectra Logic Corp. Bullfrog for its offsite tape library.

“We’ve been running it a little over a month now, and we’ve not lost anything,” he says.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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