Something has got to change for the upstream oil and gas industry. Oil and gas prices are in a slump and companies often must cancel or postpone projects (and lay off highly valued team members) as a result. In order to stop the bleeding and ultimately reverse the damage inflicted upon them from the last few years, energy companies are looking for a solution—not only something that will help them cut unnecessary expenditures, but that will also improve organizational efficiency.
The cloud computing may just be the answer to all their problems.
Deconstructing the Cloud
The oil and gas industry realizes that something has to be done, that what they have been doing on their own just isn’t enough. Like many other businesses who find themselves in a similar situation, cloud computing is often the next place they turn. And with good reason.
If you ask any technology consultant for suggestions on how to best save a business money and time, they’d tell you there really is only one suggestion they need to make: cloud computing. The “cloud”—which is really just a fancy way of saying the Internet—is a powerful form of running data and applications through virtual servers.
According to leading energy consulting firm Opportune LLP, “By unhitching Oil and Gas companies from the cost and burden of managing large data/computer infrastructure, they will be able to have greater focus on their core competence.”
Here are just some of the benefits energy companies (and other businesses) can expect when they make a move to the cloud:
1. Lower TCO: With cloud services, businesses no longer have to invest in on-site equipment or software that require large fees, time, and expertise to manage and maintain. They instead run everything (i.e. their business) from a highly secure off-site server and entrust hosted service providers to manage the physical hardware for them.
2. Enhance Focus: Because cloud management basically removes the ownership (and burden) of all that data and computing infrastructure from the business, energy companies can instead focus on what they do best and not worry about a server going down, a software malfunctioning, or setting up new users in the system.
3. Improve Flexibility: It used to be that large enterprises were the only ones who could afford the technology to streamline their operations. With cloud services though, businesses of all sizes can now easily purchase affordable hosted technology solutions that they can upgrade or downgrade to match their business’s growth.
How to Identify Your Cloud Needs
There are three major types of cloud computing that energy companies should be aware of before making the move. While all directly related to one another, they do not provide the same type of solution, so it’s important to identify your business’s needs to ensure you have the right one in place.
Software-as-a-Service is the term used to refer to software that is run in the cloud. If you’ve ever used Salesforce, then you’re already familiar with how this works.
In a nutshell, businesses pay a monthly subscription fee to a SaaS provider in order to use the software (via the Internet) and can run it from any device of their choosing. They still have full control over the software’s customization and capabilities, but they now have a third-party provider managing the core of the software in the case of any glitches, outages, etc.
Infrastructure as a Service refers to the cloud computing model, whereby a third-party provider hosts the main infrastructural components off-site (including the servers, software, and any other hardware needed). By using this model, businesses are saving not only money on the equipment required to run the business operations, but, most importantly, the time it takes to manage the basic upkeep, backup, and upgrades around all of it.
Some well-known examples of IaaS services are Rackspace and VMware.
Platform as a Service is for the companies (and developers) who want to develop web applications, but don’t want to have to build or manage the infrastructure upon which they run. Like other cloud computing “as a service” models, the purpose of this is to allow businesses to focus on what they do best and give the management of the structural base of their operations over to an expert third-party provider. Red Hat’s OpenShift and Google’s App Engine are two such examples.
Cloud computing solutions have helped businesses of all sizes realize huge cost savings, productivity, and efficiency benefits. For energy companies struggling to dig themselves out of debt and into a more comfortable (and profitable) era, cloud solutions are the way to go.
If you’re an oil and gas firm looking for more assistance and guidance before jumping into the cloud fray, technology consulting firms can help you identify which cloud solutions and providers will be the best fit for your needs. If you’re ready to get started (or at least evaluate your options), give us a call today.