New Technology Magazine

A Match Made In Geology


Two software companies partner to solve one of industry’s biggest challenges

Geoscientists face several challenges due to limitations in their software tools. New technologies, driven by business needs, such as full and wide azimuth data, permanent seismic monitoring and reservoir modelling, cause seismic data sets to increase to petabytes in size. These storage requirements pose challenges from an information technology (IT) perspective in terms of loading and accessing the data, and from a user perspective as it requires geoscientists to have the ability to stream, compute and visualize cross-domain data that is large and complex.

Geoscientists currently have to spend a lot of time waiting for data to load, copy and save. Underperforming computing technology continues to slow down exploration and production (E&P) applications, extending exploration projects by hours, days and even weeks. Ideally, software should assist the geoscience workflow, but in practice, the limitations of existing software technology forces the geoscience experts into restricted ways of operating.

A great deal of geoscientists’ employers’ IT spending is related to trying to manage these challenges using outdated technology while placing a premium on the security of the data. As industry-based cost structures have been steadily rising for the past decade at a much faster pace than the growth in the price of natural resources, the E&P sector is now actively seeking innovative ways to improve workflow and employee effectiveness while at the same time driving down overall IT spending while making that cost centre more efficient.

Oslo, Norway–based Hue AS developed its HueSpace technology for application development. The company provides leading-edge technology to address the E&P challenges of the oil and gas industry. Instead of constraining the geoscientists with inadequate software tools, HueSpace supports challenging scenarios related to interactivity, scalability, data management and performance.

“With extensive experience from the gaming industry, Hue’s founders approached E&P software architecture by focusing on providing users with interactivity and immediate feedback,” says Michele Isernia, Hue vice-president, strategy and alliances.

Recently, Hue teamed up with Calgary Scientific Inc.; Beijing-based Lenovo; Santa Clara, Calif.–based NVIDIA Corporation, inventor of the graphics processing unit (GPU); and San Diego, Calif.–based Magma to combine their hardware and software offerings to deliver interactive, visual energy data exploration from the cloud.

The new technology solution provides advanced 3-D visualization, accelerated and interactive computation, which scale to data sets practically unlimited in size. The end user simply accesses the solution from a web browser on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. It enables interpretation of multi-terabyte surveys with advanced computation on the go.

The solution uses Lenovo’s ThinkStation workstations equipped with NVIDIA GPU accelerators and Magma’s high-speed expansion system to perform the heavy number crunching, while Calgary Scientific’s PureWeb software enables the resulting images over web and mobile.

“HueSpace is a platform which oil and gas companies can use to develop advanced E&P software applications. Applications built on HueSpace can interact with terabytes and petabytes of data on PCs, laptops, iPads and smartphones and seamlessly scale up to multi-GPU environments. This applies to massive seismic data sets as well as to huge unstructured reservoir models,” says Isernia.

HueSpace can integrate and extend existing software applications that use OpenGL visualization tool kits in Windows or Linux, using C++, C#, Java, Python and other programming languages.


The ultimate objective is to enable geoscientists to gain insight as fast as possible without artificial limitations related to data type or size. The faster speed and improved understanding of what geologists and geophysicists are looking at allows them to make better decisions. The cross-domain capability allows oil and gas companies to go from seismic interpretation to reservoir engineering, to drilling and production seamlessly without losing any data. Not only does this save their companies time and money but it also enables their companies to maximize reservoir recovery.

Isernia says that among Hue’s customers is a supermajor that has proven HueSpace’s competitive advantage in the implementation and deployment of the client’s most important and proprietary geoscience intellectual property.

Calgary Scientific’s PureWeb is a proven platform that can rapidly transform any existing E&P-based software application into a cloud- and web-enabled, mobilized and collaboration-enabled software solution to solve the oil and gas industry’s biggest challenges of managing huge data files, ensuring data security, and creating mobile and multi-party, real-time collaborative workflows to gain operating and cost efficiencies.

PureWeb is a highly patented, one-of-a-kind platform that virtualizes existing software applications written in C++, C# or Java for Windows or Linux to be extended as cloud-ready services accessible from web and mobile devices. It uniquely enables these applications to consume cloud services and be computed interoperably on any cloud or in any private data centre.

At the same time, advanced mobile derivatives are created and the applications are made into solutions that are enabled for multiple parties to compute together on the same data, in real time, without ever having to have it physically downloaded to them.

PureWeb is the first software platform to provide high-performance computing access to huge, graphic-intensive files on the cloud by actually transforming existing desktop, workstation or heavy client-server-based applications into new-era cloud/web/mobile applications.

Instead of downloading huge files onto a PC, laptop or tablet, or ineffectively “scraping” files (extracting data from human readable output from another program) using outdated virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology, PureWeb provides applications true access to the data centre or cloud, where the huge files are stored, and users can utilize the files directly there with secure, high performance, using a wide variety of computing devices and scenarios.

The biggest benefit to viewing huge files on the cloud using the PureWeb architecture is that it provides a real-time collaborative working environment for oil and gas staff. By using PureWeb, staff in different locations can view the same file at the same time and they can work collaboratively on it, without the security risk of physically sending files outside the firewall. This is a major logistical benefit in that it saves companies from having to fly staff to different, sometimes quite distant locations, so they can view these huge files on a single device at the same time.


“There has been a big attitude shift towards the Enterprise Cloud in the last year,” says Byron Osing, chief executive officer and chair of Calgary Scientific. “The fear of cloud was based on uncertainty around security, loss of control and potential migration strategies. But now that people are more knowledgeable about the cloud, they are more comfortable using its capabilities.

“There is public cloud and private cloud and a hybrid cloud approach using aspects of both, all of which need to be a part of a strategy. PureWeb-enabled software applications can be server-side computed anywhere, including a data centre or private cloud, which can run on a company’s own premises. It’s as safe as having a server in your own basement, but it can also be computed in an interoperable manner and scaled nationally on any public cloud.”

Osing says customers are now asking for this type of technology because they know the capability exists, it has been proven in the health-care industry, and they are looking for IT-driven efficiencies in employee workflows, operations and computing costs.

Oil and gas companies that have legacy software written in C++, C# or Java and are unable to be cloud computed or even replicated in data centres using virtual machine (VM) technology, don’t have to get rid of their legacy or in-house software or spend millions of dollars to rewrite their existing software—most often in situations where these rewrite projects take many years and face many project risks.

PureWeb can be quickly integrated with existing applications right through the available application programming interface (API) of those applications or, if the application has no API, by plugging in just below the user-interface level without interfering with the application’s logic.

PureWeb is very different from Citrix or other VDI products in that the traditional screen scraping or remote control approach for web and cloud-based applications at the IT level requires an application to be installed on the application server or at the desktop level. This allows a remote user to access that system and scrape or remote view what is happening at that application-display level on that server or desktop while they control it remotely.

Osing says this is a tried and proven method that can work reasonably in some low-performance situations but is becoming a timeworn method with significant technical and performance limitations that cannot be architecturally overcome.

“PureWeb transforms your applications into a true new-era web, cloud, mobile and collaboration-based solution for today’s computing challenges. Once transformed, no IT middleware like Citrix or mobile device management are needed,” he says.

Roxar AS, an international provider of products and associated services for reservoir management and production optimization in the upstream oil and gas industry, is one of the early adopters of Calgary Scientific’s API. “Roxar uses our PureWeb technology to support multi-endpoint manipulation of large cloud-based data sets. HueSpace is used in Roxar’s RMS to Go model-in-the-cloud solution,” says Osing.

Roxar announced and demonstrated the upcoming product and partnership in Amsterdam at an industry trade show earlier this year during its large customer event.

E&P companies that own their own software can try PureWeb in two ways. Calgary Scientific’s Software Transformation Kits are freely downloadable from its website so developers can try it out on their own applications. Or Calgary Scientific can do a three-day pilot pro­ject, which involves Calgary Scientific going to a company’s offices and putting the company’s application on PureWeb to create a prototype that they can mount on the cloud, try on mobile devices or use the collaboration feature, so they can see what the technology will deliver to them.

Hue recently introduced Hue Streams, a seismic compression technology. The product dramatically reduces storage requirements for seismic data, provides significant time savings across workflows and allows for improved interactivity for interpretation applications, ultimately improving people’s efficiency.

Seismic data accounts for up to 90 per cent of enterprise storage requirements, and the size and complexity is constantly growing. When the data is compressed during acquisition, less data has to be transferred for in-house processing and analysis, making it available earlier for decision-making. In processing and imaging, compressing data increases the throughput of the computer system due to bandwidth ceilings in data transfer.

“Hue Streams makes direct access to compressed data faster than direct access to uncompressed data,” says Isernia. A benchmark study compares Hue’s compression technology to a competitive solution introduced by a popular industry vendor recently, and shows that Hue Streams offered 50 per cent smaller compressed files, over 20 times faster bricking and compression, and over 20 times faster decompression than the competitive solution, providing great benefits to industry.

Calgary Scientific is currently looking at the business strategy of using the available APIs of market-leading software products in the oil and gas industry. “We could just plug in to the same and create our own versions of those software applications that are cloud, mobile and collaboration-based. We could then take those new-era versions of those products directly to market ourselves, as what are known as ‘plug-in’ products that existing product owners upgrade to,” says Osing.

By Diane L.M. Cook


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