Exploring new sources. Placing big bets. Keeping operations safe and reliable. These are just a few things that make oil and gas companies successful. Over the years, technologies that run their business have evolved and become more critical – maybe none more dramatically than data center and IoT innovations – which has made digital transformation a business imperative.
Traditionally, for oil and gas companies, information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) have had very different purposes — and, therefore, very different needs. Large equipment did the heavy lifting in the field, servers and storage appliances moved the ones and zeroes around back in the corporate data center, and there often wasn’t much crossover between the two.
Those days are largely over.
Energy companies today use field sensors and connected machinery to monitor the health of equipment, conduct predictive analytics exercises, and engage in a host of other data-intensive activities outside of the data center. This creates a pressing need to connect the network edge to the core, and to integrate the entire environment in a way that simplifies operations and allows the business to scale.
“There’s a disconnect today between IT and OT,” Jeremy Ross, cloud architect for Nutanix, said in a recent webinar addressing tech challenges for oil and gas companies. “Historically, that’s always been the case. But as the world continues to evolve … this is creating some friction.”
“What has happened, as the requirements of IT continue to expand, IT has begun deploying their standardized infrastructure in the same locations as OT,” added Todd Nelson, formerly a global systems engineer for Nutanix.
“And so what organizations have found is that there is a lot of overlap of hardware and licensing, and really just a lack of standardization between the two groups, as there’s not a lot of cross communication.”
[Watch the webcast on demand: Bridging the Gap Between IT and OT]
The webinar discussed the specific challenges that IT/OT convergence creates for oil and gas companies, as well as how organizations are meeting those challenges head-on.
Three Main Struggles
Three chief challenges related to the growing overlap between IT and OT environments were identified in the webinar. The first is cost: As organizations purchase redundant hardware and software for both environments, they become less efficient.
Secondly, oil and gas companies often struggle with process issues, and internal stakeholders are sometimes unsure of what to expect when making requests from different departments.
“With all of this redundant hardware, with all of this licensing sprawl, you find that the internal services are really duplicated in a lot of instances,” Nelson said. “This can cause misalignment issues, and can really impact quality of service. A user might be accustomed to a certain quality of service with the IT group, and then when they make a similar request to the OT group, they may not receive that same standard.”