Azure ‘transforms’ Chevron

'Primary’ cloud partnership to ‘more efficiently do’ oil exploration and sensor data management. Azure HPC infrastructure informed by Chevron feedback with a little help from Cray.

Microsoft bloggeuse Vanessa Ho waxed lyrical about Chevron’s selection of Microsoft Azure as its ‘primary cloud’ in a partnership that is set to ‘fuel’ the company’s digital transformation. The partnership is to provide Chevron with the compute power it needs to ‘accelerate work in data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).’ Chevron CIO Bill Braun said, ‘This partnership will allow us to digitally transform and leverage the scale and capabilities of Microsoft to ensure we harness the value of our data.’ The partnership includes technical collaboration, joint innovation and employee cross-training. Microsoft is to develop products that solve Chevron’s business challenges and transform its data into ‘performance-driving intelligence.’

Microsoft’s Tom Keane explained that although Chevron is already a sophisticated consumer of data, compute and IoT, and excels at high-performance computing, the partnership will investigate how all of this can leverage Azure to ‘more efficiently do’ oil exploration and sensor data management. Braun highlighted what has proved to be an extreme use case for data intensity, digital temperature sensing (DST). This leverages existing optical fiber installed in wells along with fancy instrumentation to provide a temperature/depth profile of a flowing well. Braun observed that DSTs and other onsite data sources ‘can generate up to 1 terabyte of data a day*.’

Chevron and Microsoft have partnered for many years (see our 2009 TechWatch). Braun opined that Chevron values Microsoft’s technology, technical leadership and partnership mindset. At the same time, Microsoft gains insight into the oil and gas industry and how its solutions work in a company with a global footprint and harsh operating conditions. Microsoft has improved its high-performance computing infrastructure based on Chevron’s feedback.

Another improvement to Microsoft’s Azure cloud is the recently announced availability of Cray’s XC and CS series super-computers in Azure to run HPC and AI applications. The Crays are said to ‘easily integrate’ with Azure virtual machines, data lake storage and Microsoft’s AI/ML services. A facet of the deal with Cray, not mentioned in the release, is that Crays run Linux. Linux’ growth in Azure reflects a big shift in strategy from the days when Windows was said to ‘dominate HPC ’ and when Steve Ballmer called Linux ‘a cancer’! More from Microsoft.

* DST multi terabyte data is usually processed on site with a reduced data volume (possibly) going into the cloud. DST could be considered a case of ‘edge’ computing.

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