JV in the Cloud

Cloud computing, SAML 2, NoSQL and EnergyML combine in Microsoft/Chevron proof of concept to create a ‘perfect storm’ of technologies applicable to joint venture data sharing.

Bill McKenzie (Chevron) speaking at the Microsoft Global Energy Forum last month in Houston described a ‘proof of concept’ (PoC) development to investigate use of cloud computing in support of oil and gas joint venture collaboration. Initially, Chevron was skeptical about the merits of the cloud. It seemed like nothing new and the touted savings in terms of reduced server count and ‘storage by the drink’ amounted to ‘chump change.’ But maybe the situation was different for a joint venture (JV).

JVs benefit from stable, strong tools and practices. But in today’s high-end projects with MWD, decision rooms etc., more complex data is being shared. JV partners may want to see a cellular reservoir model or cooperate on incident response. Here, Energistics’ EnergyML data sharing standards and the new ‘big data’ movement could combine with cloud computing to make for a ‘perfect storm’ of new technologies.

The facet of cloud computing of most interest to a JV is the Platform as a Service offering, using internal applications and the cloud’s data services. Amazon Web Services and Google’s App Engine got a brief mention, but in deference to his hosts, McKenzie described the PoC using Microsoft’s Azure.

For technical computing to work in the cloud, a ‘canonical’ view of data is required that all agree on. Standards for units of measure and CRSs in the cloud will be a major step forward. On top of this, services for query and management can be built.

For security, SAML 2 ‘may not be a panacea,’ but it is getting there. The ‘big data,’ NoSQL approach implies a shift away from ‘third normal form’ relational data bases such as PPDM. Instead of seeking agreement on a rigid data model, the NoSQL approach (as exemplified by Google’s Big Table) involves storing data in an unstructured store, combining full text and key-value pair lookup, an approach which appears promising for a JV. Under the EnergyML hood are WitsML, ProdML and the ‘new child in the family,’ RescuML. These can combine to transport the essential elements of the shared earth model, although there is ‘still a lot to do!’

Generic create/read/update/delete services have been built atop the EnergyML data services. Other key technologies include Microsoft’s ADFS in the cloud and (for Chevron) identity services from Ping Identity. The PoC showed that the SAML 2 token provider works along with the EnergyML data services.

McKenzie wound up with a demo of the PoC in action on a shared asset model adding users, permissions and data to the store. Clients drill-down through the asset hierarchy for reporting information. Current PoC partners are Pioneer, Chevron, Atman Consulting and Microsoft. Other interested parties are invited to join-up. More from David Barret, dbarret@microsoft.com.

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