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Meeting Data Storage Needs of Seismic Proportions:
A Fibre Channel RAID Solution

nStor Technologies

A Case Study:- by nStor Technologies - April, 2001

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Editor's intro Historically, the applications which have pushed the envelope of storage systems have been:- miltary research, digital broadcasting and seismic research. Each, in their own way, have demanded more than traditional processing, either because of data size, speed of input and output, and connectivity to other systems. This applications example describes a storage system supplied by nStor Technologies .

The Challenge

As a company that provides specialized data processing and seismic imaging services to support oil and gas companies in their exploration and production efforts, the implementation of reliable data storage systems is critical to the success of GX Technology Corporation (GXT). Because these services are among the most computing and capital intensive in the world, oil and gas companies are increasingly outsourcing this specialized processing to GXT. GXT's seismic imaging services help oil and gas companies gather critical geophysical data and convert it to a more accurate interpretation of the geological environment.

The data-intensive nature of GXT's business brought about the need for a highly reliable, highly available mass storage system. One of the most popular information technology solutions used today to gather, manage and access rapidly increasing amounts of information is a Fibre Channel RAID system.

"A typical prospect will have anywhere from 100GB to over 1.5TB of raw field data from the seismic acquisition phase of the project,'' said Tony Sabatino, vice president and manager of GXT's Houston Geophysical Service Center. "We then need to read in this data and put it on a storage system that will act as the central repository for the data during the life of the project.''

Implementing a RAID Solution

When GXT sought to find a RAID solution to store its critical data, the most important criteria were

  • capacity,
  • reliability,
  • data availability, and
  • competitive pricing.

After conducting competitive research, GXT selected the full fibre channel NexStor RAID solution from nStor Technologies, a San Diego-based supplier of enterprise storage solutions.

"We needed to add 6TB of RAID storage to our system,'' adds Sabatino. "A lot of people we talked to could provide solutions up to about 3TB, but only nStor was able to supply us with the 6TB solution we needed with the performance, reliability and pricing we were looking for."

To meet GXT's requirements, nStor's professional services team brought GXT's new server to its lab in San Diego. After building the system, nStor conducting rigorous testing before shipping it back to Houston for installation. The entire physical installation at GXT's site was completed in less than two days.

The Benefits of a RAID Solution

Once on the nStor RAID storage system, GXT's seismic data is fed over a high-speed network to a 40-node server cluster. The data is divided equally across these nodes, and at that point the data processing and analysis begins. Depending on the amount of data, this process can take anywhere from one to six months to complete. The NexStor RAID system ensures the continuous data availability and reliability required for these intensive projects.

"Our objective is to keep these clusters running non-stop,'' commented Gary Young, the GXT hardware engineer responsible for the system's day-to-day operation. "The nStor RAID system allows us to keep our `pipeline' of projects filled, thereby improving our productivity. The RAID system also assures us 100 percent availability of our data. Losing that data would be a giant setback involving a tremendous amount of work to recover the data from the original field tapes. It would really cost us. The nStor system has added the reliability we need in expanding our operations."

"As our industry evolves, oil companies are gaining more and more confidence in the GX technique and are coming to us with larger-scale products," says Sabatino. "We have been so pleased with our experience that we are again looking to nStor to do an additional 6TB installation for us." ...nStor profile

About GX Technology Corporation

GX Technology is the leading provider of advanced seismic imaging solutions to the oil and gas industry, with a special focus on highly effective and compute-intensive prestack depth and time imaging. GXT's innovative imaging technology, close client collaboration and e-service delivery are key to helping its clients significantly reduce the risk and cost of drilling for oil and gas. GXT is headquartered in Houston, has Service Centers in Houston, London, Calgary and Jakarta, and additional offices in Paris and Beijing. Its website can be accessed at

nStor RAID storage system
Picture above, the nStor RAID storage system.

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