Enterprise Apps in the Cloud: A Growing Trend in Oil & Gas

When it comes to IT, oil and gas companies are as a general rule conservative: cautious when it comes to change, less likely to be an early adopter of the latest new thing. Which is odd for those of us who grew up in the industry – I’m third-generation oil and gas, and have been in and around the industry from a professional perspective since I graduated from OU with a degree in chemical engineering – because our industry is known for assuming risks (albeit calculated risks), on moving quickly and decisively on new opportunities. On the business side, we’ll always have a little “wildcat” in our DNA. On the IT side, maybe not so much.

And so it is really no surprise that oil and gas as an industry has been slower to embrace cloud computing than other industries. But given the growing number of cloud-based point solutions targeting oil and gas, and business’s increased confidence in cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Salesforce.com for enterprise applications such as CRM, HR, and more, it is safe to say that the forecast in oil and gas IT is cloudier than it’s ever been.

For example, take Stonebridge’s EnerHub enterprise data management solution. EnerHub is built on the Azure platform in order to provide oil and gas companies with a world-class data management solution with all of the benefits of the cloud/software-as-a-service model. We’re seeing the “cloud for enterprise” message resonate, too. At the close of the second quarter, a half dozen oil and gas companies have implemented EnerHub this year alone.

For another example, a recent news release highlighted a major U.S. natural gas pipeline company moving a legacy application to the cloud. This cloud-migration project was delivered by our sister company, Cloudaction, a Tulsa-based cloud consultancy specializing in the Salesforce platform. The project involved a business-critical business application, which connects producing wells to the client company’s pipelines and gathering operations, onto Salesforce’s cloud platform. The primary objective was to replicate the company’s existing system, a web-based legacy application built on commercial on-premises software that was originally designed for content management and process automation, and which had been repeatedly customized over the years. Moving to a cloud platform gave the client the opportunity to optimize the application architecture, gain more flexibility in terms of capacity and scalability, and simplify business processes along the way.

Examples like these are sending clear signals that oil and gas as an industry is starting to embrace the cloud big time. I predict we’ll see more of this activity in oil and gas going forward, as companies discover how putting the cloud in their IT strategy can improve operations, generate measurable business value, and most importantly put their organizations on a “future ready” footing to meet the challenges facing our industry in the 21st century.


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