Oil ITJ Interview - Dennis O’Neill

Before joining Seitel last November, as Senior VP and Chief Information Officer, Dennis O’Neill was IT Architecture and Planning Manager for Schlumberger. O’Neill tells Oil IT Journal what technology is deployed at the data center and how Seitel plans to grow its online business.

Oil ITJ - Last time we looked at Seitel’s data center IBM was closely involved with the project. How has the technology evolved since January last year?

O’Neill - IBM remains a key member of team, supplying of hardware and software. IMB is providing RISC-based AIX Computers and its Tivoli storage management. Near-line data is stored on IBM LTO tape robots with 110 GB per tape capacity.

Oil ITJ - How much of your 1.4 Petabytes will be online?

O’Neill - The new business model - buying and selling over the internet has come from the increased availability of broadband connectivity. But seismic data volumes - especially pre-stack 3D make unrealistic calls on even today’s high capacity metro area networks. Seitel adopts a pragmatic ‘fit for purpose,’ hybrid solution. All the upfront, pre-sale data analysis can be performed using online data. Quite large post-stack datasets can be delivered online, but when a very large pre-stack 3D data set is required, this is likely to be stored and delivered in more conventional ways. Over an OC3 (155MBit) line a significant 3D dataset would take a few days to deliver. But E1 and T1 (1MBit) are good enough for prestack data, QC plots and generally what a potential buyer might need to make a purchase decision. By year-end we expect to have several hundred terabytes on-line/near-line and will grow this figure depending on client demand for desktop/same day delivery.

Oil ITJ - Who are your clients?

O’Neill - We have two internal clients Seitel Data and Olympic Seismic (Seitel’s Canadian arm), and we will be opening up the system to others in March. We are working with data brokers and our sales force so that they can use the system on the road to do a ‘show and tell’. They no longer need to prepare a presentation for each client before they leave the office. Various combinations of data servers and software can be configured, Seitel can install the solution in-house for the existing client base if required, with in-house nearline/online storage.

Oil ITJ - As folks move data off-site, do you do entitlements management à la PetroBank?

O’Neill - Yes we currently deploy entitlements-based access for Seitel and Olympic. But when we are deploying off-site storage for customers, we can configure the system as they desire. We can offer a complete set of hosted, independent hardware and software if a client wants it that way.

Oil ITJ - What were the main IT developments in the center?

O’Neill - First we have enhanced our existing applications with a web-based GIS front end, which offers map-based navigation around our data with geometry and rich seismic metadata online. Second we have implemented online-nearline storage (before, data was in boxes) so that we can now manage our assets more efficiently. Key post-stack data can be put online, with less-often used, but still popular datasets stored near-line on the tape robots. The IBM solution lets the online system talk to the robots so the end result is transparent to the user.

Oil ITJ - Will you be reselling the Tobin data?

O’Neill - The initial deal is to offer a map backdrop giving cultural context to our seismic libraries. Currently this is available for the US and Gulf of Mexico and soon will be for Canada. Our licensing agreement with Tobin gives us monthly updates of evolving map data such as new wells. The data center could become a data portal for other data vendors and we are working with our oil company clients to offer brokerage services for their own data – either through our Solution or via a ‘branded’ portal.

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