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Oil, gas and information; dealing with IT in an industry filled with specialized equipment

Ben Farrell
August 31, 2012

The oil and gas industry has traditionally operated in a technological bubble created by a variety of specialized solutions designed for the specific needs of the sector. This was a necessary strategy to address the unique requirements in exploration, drilling, transportation and refinement. Times have changed, however, and so has the oil and gas market. While specialized systems are still critical, so are typical enterprise IT architectures.

Consider massive oil fields where drilling is taken place and the environment has to be carefully secured and protected. Oil companies have to protect against wildlife that may stumble into harm's way or competitors that may try to spy on operations to gain an edge. Building a fence around the oil field can help, but how do you successfully monitor a fence that is stretching over miles of land? Having security personnel doing rounds is one possible solution, but that kind of system can leave gaps.

The answer is, increasingly, to line the security fence with fiber-optic cable infrastructure equipped with motion sensors and other types of monitoring devices. With these sensors in place, oil and gas companies can identify when the line has been crossed, analyze data about the disturbance to gain an idea of what has entered the facility and send personnel to investigate if necessary.

But how do you get the data from thousands of sensors spread around large tracts of land to the people who need it? What's more, how do you get them that data when they spend most of their time using specialized equipment that does not integrate with a traditional network? In those cases, a bpm software solution for utilitiesis the answer.

By using cloud, mobile and social media systems, security workers with a smartphone can run applications that feed them data on the conditions of just about everything going on at a location. BPM can automatically sift through the data that is not important, using those applications to deliver the exact information that security workers or technicians need at any time. Furthermore, BPM can also interact with data delivered through industrial and rigging equipment, enabling the IT systems to still work well alongside specialized solutions.