Striking ‘Black Gold’ with HP Moonshot: Bringing the New Style of IT to Oil Exploration

The new HP Moonshot System usually brings to mind a space exploration program. But for one of its first customers, CGG of Houston, Texas, Moonshot is key to efficiently processing information from deep underground to deliver images for oil and gas exploration.

Laurent Clerc, vice president of Information Technology at CGG, shares his perspective on what impact HP Moonshot could have for CGG and its customers.

Having been involved with HP’s new Moonshot energy-efficient hyperscale computing architecture evaluation for some time, CGG was very pleased to participate in HP’s global launch of the first commercially available HP Moonshot servers on April 8 in New York.

CGG is an industry leading world-wide geoscience company, delivering images of the Earth’s geology to energy industry clients. Our clients then use those images to find new natural resources, or improve the management of reservoirs already in production. This activity is a very early and critical step to ensure that the world will continue to have sustainable access to the energy it needs for years to come.

To continuously improve the quality of those images, CGG invests in significant R&D effort to design and operate its own software and processing centers. Most of the workload in our more than 40 installations worldwide is a mix of very large I/O and CPU-intensive activities, with tens of PetaBytes of storage and PetaFlops of processing capacity installed globally. The main challenges are the very rapid and continuous improvements in our algorithms and acquisition techniques that keep pushing the existing technology to its limits.

To ensure that we always stay ahead of the curve, we like to partner with innovative companies such as HP, to evaluate their products early and ensure that we can bring them to market quickly. Upon learning of HP’s Moonshot initiative, we could not pass up that opportunity to be part of what could be the next phase in the evolution of clusters.

Obviously, the reduction in complexity, power and footprint that Moonshot delivers is a significant improvement on its own. For CGG, this enables us to leverage our existing computer center infrastructures, preserving the environment and optimizing costs while generating even better products for our clients.

But beyond that, what makes Moonshot so interesting for us is the fact that, as the platform evolves, we should be able to continuously and very rapidly have access to a toolbox of cartridges uniquely adapted to our workload in a consistent and efficient ecosystem. That capacity to match software and hardware building blocks at a level of granularity previously unavailable could improve efficiency by an order of magnitude.

This is why, going forward, we are eagerly waiting for the Moonshot roadmap to unfold and deliver even more of the building blocks we need so CGG can produce even better and sharper images. Based on what we have already seen, HP’s Moonshot should be an ideal solution.