Flash Makes Apache’s Massive Data Sets Easy to Manage

NetApp Equipment


By Laurence Cruz,  NetApp


Exploring and evaluating potential oil and gas discovery sites is a big data business. Just ask Bradley Lauritsen, director of Exploration Applications at Apache Corporation, one of the world’s largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies.


“We've got 10-plus data centers around the world, approaching quickly 25 petabytes worth of storage, and then lots of servers from high-performance, high-compute clusters to VMWare and Cisco UCS,” Lauritsen says. “A lot more things have gone virtual just to make things a lot more flexible for us.”


At NetApp Insight 2015, Lauritsen spoke with Lee Caswell, NetApp vice president of Products, Solutions, and Services Marketing, about the changing role of flash in the enterprise—in particular as a means of unlocking value from securely stored data and in driving application performance. In the case of Apache, that includes working with reservoir-modeling applications that generate data sets sometimes hundreds of terabytes in size. These data sets are essentially 3D subterranean cross sections designed to identify oil and gas reservoirs.



“That's not an easy file to come up with,” Lauritsen explains. “You have a source onshore that could be dynamite, could be trucks that are just banging against the ground to vibrate it, and then you have all these devices collecting that information as the sound bounces back and forth.”


Another big data challenge Apache faces is efficiently feeding these huge volumes of data into graphics processing units (GPUs)—something the company has resolved with flash. “We can now get flash talking to flash across the whole system, and optimize everything and really feed these processors and GPUs,” Lauritsen says.


But while flash has becomes largely synonymous with high performance, there’s a second wave of flash sweeping the industry. “Flash is exciting and new,” says Caswell. “It’s a little bit like a convertible in a showroom. Everyone wants to go see it. At the same time, there’s a lot of minivans that are around as well. One of the things that we think is really exciting now, is how do you make flash manageable? The management side is actually dominating the discussion.”


For an extended version of this conversation, listen to Caswell and Lauritsen on this edition of the Tech ONTAP Podcast, or read more about Caswell's thoughts on the industry in this SearchStorage article.


Join us at the "Need More Speed" webcast to discover how moving its simulation software to NetApp All Flash enables Apache's geoscientists to model seismic data faster and more accurately. Learn how NetApp has reduced the time needed to load and open models by 75%, supports 700% annual data grow with no added headcount, has cut storage costs by over half, and delivers up to 100% performance gains across Apache's network.


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