LMKR provides mobile technology solutions, data services, geoscience and data management consulting solutions to oil and gas operators, geoscientists and investors in order to lower the risk associated with unconventional oil and gas exploration and production. To power its GeoGraphix® Discovery™ Suite, the industry's most complete and integrated Windows-based geology and geophysical system, LMKR needed a robust, scalable, low maintenance, high performance and affordable relational database. After evaluating multiple options, it selected SQL Anywhere, which has proven to be a very wise business decision.
Running its GeoGraphix® Discovery™ Suite on SQL Anywhere gives LMKR a significant competitive advantage over competing solutions, enabling LMKR to market the suite to oil and gas companies of all sizes.
Powering the Search for Oil and Gas
LMKR provides mobile technology solutions, data services, geoscience and data management consulting solutions to oil and gas operators, geoscientists and investors in order to lower the risk associated with unconventional oil and gas exploration and production (E&P). Headquartered in Dubai, U.A.E., the company’s nearly 500 customers in more than 22 countries include multinationals, national oil companies, government E&P ministries, independent oil companies, service companies and consultancies.
LMKR’s GeoGraphix® Discovery™ Suite is the industry's most complete and integrated Windows-based geology and geophysical system. It combines industry-leading technologies supported by a common data and project architecture, enabling an individual geoscientist or an entire asset team to work more efficiently in a fully integrated and collaborative environment. The Discovery Suite provides substantial benefits across companies by reducing business risk and increasing asset team productivity while keeping IT costs in check.
The Discovery Suite is ideal for interpreting reservoirs, supporting field development and exploiting mature assets. It provides all the tools necessary for seismic, geological and petrophysical interpretations. Fast QC interpretations in "what-if" scenarios can be conducted during the asset evaluation phase resulting in faster turnaround and better, more accurate decisions. And, because all members of the asset team work with the same data simultaneously, costly mistakes caused by out-of-date versions of the project are eliminated.
Only One Business Objective: Find and Exploit Hydrocarbons
“There’s really only one business objective in our industry,” explains Scott Oelfke, product manager for Data Management and GIS at LMKR. “It’s to find and exploit hydrocarbons. That’s what Discovery helps geologists and geophysicists do – find oil and gas assets and successfully exploit them. Discovery provides a wide range of functionality to support multiple workflows including exploration, drilling, completion, production, leasing, land management, the integration of satellite imagery from large subscription services and more.”
Although oil and gas exploration might evoke images of geoscientists in the field searching for telltale signs of oil and gas, the 21st century reality is that exploration and related analytics happen mostly in offices on PCs. This involves collecting, studying and analyzing enormous volumes of data to determine precisely where to drill, to evaluate well production data, produce economic forecasts and provide the basis for countless critical business decisions.
Collecting and Analyzing Data Among the Biggest Industry Challenges
“The oil and gas industry probably has bigger data needs than any other industry in the world,” says Oelfke. “The amount of data the industry collects, analyzes and uses in a myriad of ways is enormous. We’re talking about petabytes and even exabytes of data. All of that data including seismic, well production, geological and third-party vendor data needs to be readily accessible to everyone from the lone geologist working on a laptop to asset groups to senior managers across entire enterprises. They all need quick access and the ability to see and manipulate information in order to optimize bottom-line business results. Data in, data out and ensuring that everyone is working with the same information are among the biggest challenges the industry faces today.”
Recognizing these mission-critical and complex data management challenges, LMKR made a decision early on that it needed to develop its Discovery Suite to employ a “real relational database” that could run on laptop and desktop machines as well as larger servers.
“We needed a database that was very robust and scalable because we knew Discovery would have to scale from the consultant working on his laptop to very, very large companies that would be incorporating our database as one of their primary, if not the primary data storage solution for their work,” says Oelfke. “At the time we were beginning to develop Discovery, there was no database quite like that on the market except for SQL Anywhere. Frankly, I believe there’s still nothing on the market that scales as well as SQL Anywhere from very small laptop use all the way up to large asset teams working with 10 or 20 people on a single database, hitting on the database constantly and analyzing data.”
LMKR did evaluate a number of database options, though, before deciding on SQL Anywhere.
SQL Anywhere “The Only Database That Met Our Requirements”
“SQL Anywhere was really the only database that met our requirements,” recalls Oelfke. “In addition to its ability to scale from the single laptop or desktop to workgroups to the enterprise, SQL Anywhere can manage huge volumes of data and accommodate large numbers of concurrent users while delivering high performance, equivalent to some more costly and demanding databases. It requires virtually no maintenance, which is important because many of our customers don’t have the luxury of large IT departments with DBAs around to baby-sit databases all day.”
“Our selection of SQL Anywhere to power GeoGraphix Discovery has turned out in retrospect to be a very good decision,” Oelfke continues. “Over the years, Sybase has made continuous improvements in SQL Anywhere that have supported the evolution and improvement of Discovery. Other options would be extraordinarily difficult to maintain, particularly for a small IT department. Also, improvements such as support for spatial data in the latest version of SQL Anywhere will become extremely valuable in the future since virtually every oil and gas company asset is tied to a location. Being able to store shapefiles and integrate GIS data directly with relational data in a database and then run queries on the combined data sets will give us advantages we’ve just begun to realize.”
LMKR customers want to put as much data as they can into a single database. These days that can mean data on as many as 500,000 wells, which can translate into 25 million monthly production records in a very large data model comprising over 150 tables. It’s fairly common to see databases that contain 25 to 30 gigabytes of data, with no drop off in performance.
An additional plus for customers is that because GeoGraphix Discovery is an integrated product running on a single relational database, everyone is seeing a single view of the underlying data. “This is tremendously important to our customers,” explains Oelfke, “because even small discrepancies between the locations of a particular asset can have dire financial consequences.
Currently, about 500 oil and gas companies use LMKR’s GeoGraphix Discovery Suite. In fact, in North America, it would be difficult to find an oil or gas company that’s not using Discovery to some extent.
Future Plans Include SQL Anywhere
As LMKR looks to the future, it is thinking of expanding its use of Sybase technology to smartphones and iPads. It is also looking into the use of the MobiLink synchronization technology that is included with SQL Anywhere to enable customers to efficiently synchronize data between their proprietary databases and their Discovery SQL Anywhere databases to ensure that everyone continues to have a single view of data.
Oelfke is frequently asked by customers, prospects and peers in the industry why LMKR chooses to run Discovery Suite on SQL Anywhere rather than “a real database like MS SQL Server.” He is quick to respond that beyond SQL Anywhere’s unique ability to scale from single laptops to the enterprise, to manage very large data volumes with high performance and with very low maintenance requirements, it continues to improve year after year, release after release. The total cost of ownership of SQL Anywhere is also substantially lower than other databases used in the industry.
“SQL Anywhere Gives Us A Competitive Edge”
“SQL Anywhere really gives us a competitive edge that we would never have if we were running on SQL Server or other large, high maintenance databases,” Oelfke says. “It broadens our market, enabling us to sell to oil and gas companies from the smallest to the largest. And, last but certainly not least, it’s rock solid reliable. It just runs. As I’ve said before, choosing to run on SQL Anywhere was one of the wisest decisions we made.”