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Is Cloud-native computing a hype?

To address the title of this article, let’s think about what types of consumer software we use every day.

As an example, today I used the local weather forecast, traffic conditions, my meeting schedule, the activity plans of my children, and made some phone calls. All these software services benefit from being designed for Cloud-native computing with access to a scalable pool of machine resources managed in a resource-efficient manner. In my daily activities I do not need to worry about local machine capacity limitations, outdated software, or lack of network capabilities to gather and process information in split seconds. This is because the consumer software service industry was among the first adopters of Cloud-native services, and successful companies have considerably advanced their solutions over the years. This development is driven by the increasing demand for data availability that only cloud architecture can provide. In other words, if consumer software service companies choose to stay with legacy solutions, they will be outperformed by competition.

The oil and gas industry has not experienced this rapid cloud transformation and still relies on legacy software installed on local machines. Industry domain software for exploration and production that use operational data are still in an early cloud computing stage. Operational data used for input and comparisons are most often locked down in silos and not easily accessible by those who can use the data for process improvements. Limited availability of data stalls innovation growth in domain software and new Cloud-native computing solutions. The good news is that data availability is improving as new innovative companies are creating open data environments to use operational data in cloud environments where data can be managed with open API’s.

Let us look at what Cloud-native computing means. Software that is deployed on a Cloud-native architecture takes advantage of Cloud-native technology such as a container orchestrator. Parts of an application can be packaged into containers which are then controlled or “orchestrated” by a technology like for example Kubernetes. The orchestrator scales computing resources up or down as needed and includes automation to restart crashed or degraded containers. Updates are automated with no downtime. True Cloud-native solutions also offer an open machine-based interface (machine-to-machine) such as a rich REST API that makes it easy to automate communication between applications. This is beneficial as it offers the ability to scale with use and make 3rd party integration possible, thereby supporting innovations.

Traditional deployments underutilize computing resources. They lack an effective orchestrator with on-demand available computing power and have less effective communication API’s – if any. Going Cloud-native is cost effective! Because it is much easier and cost effective to outsource digital clouds to companies that specialize in this (titans like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon) than it is to train or hire software experts to build infrastructure in house.

In short, Cloud-native computing enables almost limitless scaling as well as secure and easy data sharing. This allows companies to perform more powerful computing and share data more easily. People use Cloud-native solutions for consumer services every day, and we will see the same trend for our industry, too. I predict that within five years, Cloud-native software in oil and gas will not be considered by anyone as a hype any longer, but as a critical requirement to deliver scalable and affordable user value. Companies who fail to fully adopt cloud-thinking in their operations will face a competitive disadvantage, mostly because of cost competitiveness, enhanced functionality and insights gained from cloud computing and easy data sharing. Cloud-thinking fosters collaboration!

Turbulent Flux utilized the latest Cloud-native technologies when we developed our own software. This means that our solutions are user scalable and can be operated in whole or in part by other systems or people or in any desired combination. In practice, many of our clients will use our foundation technology to create their own solutions, with a high degree of automation. We now work with oil and gas companies and partners that are among the early adopters of our cloud-native technology as they see this as a building block in their digital transformation.

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