National Oilwell Varco and Cybernet:
Small Computers for Big Oil
Cybernet worked with National Oilwell Varco to find the best solution for computing resources at oilfield drilling sites. The innovative solution was to use the ZPC-GX31, an all-in-one computer in a keyboard, as both a PC and a terminal server. This reduced the load on mission critical data servers used in the field, resulting in increased productivity and less downtime.
As senior field manager for diversified industry supplier National Oilwell Varco (NOV) out of Houston, Adam Zulick has been on the front lines on this issue. NOV supplies everything from engineering and project management to downhole and drilling equipment. The data-archiving division where Adam works provides operators with dedicated servers to handle the vast amount of information used to create accurate 3D images that guide day-to-day operations as well as future exploration.
Drilling for oil is a dangerous job that requires enormous financial risk. To reduce the danger to workers and the uncertainty for investors, it is essential that drilling operators maximize productivity by working smarter, not just harder. To do that, there's something more in the pipeline besides crude: the flow of enormous amounts of data. Geologic and geophysical data pinpoint locations of oil reserves and drilling sites. Other field and environmental data assist in mitigating the threat to oil field workers and the local environment. When something slows the flow of information, or possibly corrupts the data, that's a big problem for operators, workers and those who supply data services to the oil companies.
The Business Challenge
Adam discovered that problems arose when customers also used the field data servers for the rest of their office work, like emails, reports, scheduling and Internet use. This additional demand would slow down the data flow and sometimes cause worse problems. A particularly critical situation was occurring with one customer in Arkansas, where the extra workload caused the servers to lock up, requiring rebooting that in turn was corrupting vital data.
The Cybernet Solution
Cybernet worked with Adam to customize a solution to meet his requirements for flexibility, workspace, budget and environment. The goal was to increase the speed and efficiency of the data-archiving process and protect data integrity for field operations, and also to support the office operations. Before Adam contacted Cybernet, he had an idea for a possible solution to the problem: to use a single PC that would function as both a terminal to the server and an office computer, freeing up the servers to be used for archive-only purposes. This flexibility became a key requirement.
He first tried a Dell PC for this effort, but it wasn't a space-saving design and cost twice as much as Cybernet’s PC. The need to save workspace became a second key requirement, so, he contacted Cybernet to find an all-in-one PC
with the processor in the keyboard. He, bought a ZPC-GX31
, and gave it to a customer to use. It quickly became apparent that the server, freed of the extra load, became more reliable and more responsive. Cybernet’s ZPC-GX31 became an all-in-one multi-tasking PC, with the power, quality and reliability to handle the tough computing environment of oilfield operations. NOV bought thirty ZPC-GX31s to cover all the division's customers, which were quickly deployed to their field operations.
Considering that this is multitrillion-dollar industry with global reach and huge machinery, it’s ironic that the key to Adam's solution is relatively quite small: a compact, all-in-one PC with the processor in the keyboard, the ZPC-GX31 from Cybernet.
The ZPC-GX31 represents an all-in-one solution for NOV on two levels: all-in-one
computing functionality and all-in-one configuration. The all-in-one functionality is the way it’s used – as a PC and a server terminal. Says Adam, "The objective was to allow the server to just do the data archiving while the PC does the rest," he says, “and the ZPC-GX31 most definitely met that goal”. The all-in-one ZPC-GX31’s space-saving configuration is welcome and necessary in a cramped office trailer. The small-footprint Cybernet PCs also proved they can fit any environment - even challenges like dust, dirt, and other debris you’d find at a drilling site - while still functioning perfectly and reliably.
Adam and his team are also pleased that the customers like the ZPC-GX31's
quality, reliability and performance, and appreciate how it allows the data archiving to run smoothly while eliminating the chance for data corruption from an overworked system. Adam and NOV are confident that their ZPC-GX31 all-in-one PCs have made a critical improvement in customer service and enhanced client safety and productivity for their customers. Sometimes, a small solution is best – even for Big Oil.