Build Transformative Applications

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Marty Sprinzen
Marty Sprinzen, CEO

VANTIQ

 

The oil and gas industry is rapidly becoming more connected and more ‘real-time’. Whether the challenge is issue detection and control, loss prevention, physical security, employee safety, or operational efficiency, the reality is that legacy methods of running oil and gas operations must change–and are changing. True digital transformation of the oil and gas industry requires entirely new applications that are real-time in nature. Most efforts to develop new, or transform old, applications into real-time have failed because a database-centric architecture is not appropriate for real-time applications. As a result, a significant number of modern, event-driven systems are now being built that sense, analyze, and take immediate action on the events occurring in and around oil and gas operations in real-time.

[Callout: “In 2018, oil and gas companies are challenged to continue to focus traditional IT and, at the same time, dog-ear funding to invest in high-impact innovative technologies to help digitize and transform the business into a tightly-integrated and agile business environment.”

IDC, 2018 Top of Mind for Oil and Gas CIOs, Chris Niven, February 2018.]

VANTIQ is an application development platform that enables companies to rapidly build and deploy the next generation of software applications. These so-called ‘event-driven’ applications ingest the constantly flowing data about the important events happening in and around your oil and gas operations. As the data streams in it are analyzed in real-time. Based on this analysis, complex actions are orchestrated–often involving true collaboration between people and systems or machines. Because VANTIQ abstracts away the vast majority of the complexity in building such applications, solutions are deployed, and value can be realized in weeks or months instead of the years it would normally take with legacy application development methodologies and platforms.

Such applications can take advantage of the latest advances in IoT, AI, machine learning, and edge computing both now and in the future–and they can evolve organically over time as simple use-cases expand to more complex and combined ones. In this way, oil and gas operators have a future-proof system that will deliver increasingly powerful results and integrate new technologies as new systems come online.

Building the Leader in Oil & Gas

Marty Sprinzen, CEO of VANTIQ and CTO Paul Butterworth had already enjoyed successful careers by the time they became early leaders at database pioneer, Ingres, in the 1980s. Along with Oracle, Ingres effectively created the market for relational database technology. From there, Marty and Paul co-founded Forté Software–the industry’s first 4GL rapid application development platform for building the new generation of web-based applications that were gaining prominence in the 1990s. At the time, Forté was the fastest growing software company in history, and Marty eventually took the company public in 1996. Forté was used by over 3000 enterprises around the world for mission-critical, internet-based applications – and it is still in use today.

After further successful stints founding platform companies in the mobile application and web services spaces, in 2015 Marty and Paul both realized that the next generation of applications involving technologies like IoT and AI would require an entirely new type of platform–one based on an event-driven architecture operating in real-time–not a database-centric architecture running operations in batch mode. It was also clear that such mission-critical applications would need to enable powerful collaborations between humans and machines and that they would very likely have to allow massive amounts of data to be processed on the edge. Later that year they formed VANTIQ and began developing what is now the hugely successful VANTIQ Platform.

Photo of Marty Sprinzen, CEO and Paul Butterworth, CTO

VANTIQ was initially marketed as a horizontal platform that could be applied to a very wide range of use cases across numerous industries. This is still true – as most examples of effective digital transformation fundamentally involve converting processes and systems from batch mode into real-time mode–no matter what the industry. But, in 2018, VANTIQ began to discover that a few key industries had a particular propensity to be attracted to the VANTIQ solution, oil and gas being one of them.

The reason for this is that the majority of the most common use cases for real-time applications – real-time field service, predictive maintenance, safety and security, environmental and system monitoring, and supply chain control – apply to the oil and gas industry. All of these scenarios dramatically benefit from being made ‘real-time’ in nature and are increasingly impacted by the latest technologies such as IoT, AI/machine learning, and edge computing. Additionally, VANTIQ is now working with three major oil and gas conglomerates to transform elements of their operations with real-time solutions.

The Unique Platform

VANTIQ not only enables the next generation of digital applications to be built, but it ensures they can be built, deployed, managed, and updated with speed and great agility. This is because VANTIQ has embraced a low-code, visual development paradigm that abstracts much of the complexity of building event-driven applications away from the developer. The VANTIQ Platform also applies the latest DevOps methodologies to the management and maintenance of mission-critical applications, whether they run in the VANTIQ cloud, a private cloud, or on the edge.

In some cases, companies choose to develop these applications themselves using the VANTIQ Platform. In other cases–perhaps when the backlog of internal IT is too large–they involve their favorite systems integrator or VANTIQ suggests one for them. In any case, whoever is building the solutions will be benefited from VANTIQ’s training and support and be able to quickly bring systems online.

[Callout: “By 2021 over 40% of data generated in oil and gas production plants and in the field will be collected and orchestrated on IoT edge devices. By 2022, 75% of new assets will be deployed with some self-diagnosing and self-healing capabilities.”

IDC Futurescape 2019, Worldwide Oil & Gas Top 10 Predictions.]

Industry trends are clearly driving the need to build systems that incorporate AI/machine learning, IoT, and edge computing. But the challenge is that none of these technologies actually does anything on its own. They are all simply pieces of a larger solution. VANTIQ is the application platform that takes these pieces and puts them together into applications that can sense, analyze, and take intelligent actions in real-time.

Recently, VANTIQ developed an application with a client that uses machine learning to interpret video feeds from drones in real-time to detect pipeline vegetation overgrowth conditions, and then dispatch technicians to address the situation as appropriate. This application was created by two developers in approximately two weeks and integrates with the OSIsoft PI System.

 

Here is a simplified breakdown of how this application functions:

In the first step, event data (flow rates, temperatures, security alerts from stationary cameras, etc.) regarding the state of the pipeline flow in from sensors in the field. In this example, the event data is processed by a VANTIQ application running on the edge, close to where it is generated, which reduces latency and the amount of data that needs to be sent to the master application. In this particular case, a real-time video feed from a drone is also analyzed by machine learning to detect conditions of vegetation overgrowth on a pipeline.

In step 2, only the most important event data is sent to the master application which may be running in the VANTIQ cloud or on-premises in a private cloud. This is where the processing of complex events takes place. At this point, additional information from supplementary sources, such as local weather conditions or historical data pulled from a database, may be added. In our specific application, a 3rd step involves adding information on the field service employee shift schedule from an ERP system and data about the local weather forecast.

Finally, in the 4th step, the application orchestrates the real-time service of the pipeline: the closest available field service team (determined via real-time GPS) is dispatched to the precise location of the issue; it is addressed, and a new drone is dispatched to verify the work and record it for historical purposes. In this way, people, machines, and systems all work together in real-time to quickly and efficiently achieve a valuable objective–the removal of the overgrowth and prevention of a potentially costly or dangerous situation.

What’s next for VANTIQ?

VANTIQ recognizes that using people at the right time and place is necessary because oil and gas systems are so complex. Humans have intuition, experience, and creativity to figure out solutions that fully automated systems are not even close to deducing today. The concept of enabling true human-to-machine collaboration in real-time is one of the biggest reasons why VANTIQ is chosen as a solution. Whether they are allocating technicians in an Uber-like fashion or monitoring theft from a pipeline in real-time, VANTIQ built applications enable humans to take action, be informed, and approve various activities. VANTIQ applications can easily utilize human-machine collaboration via web applications, mobile interfaces, natural language voice commands, text-to-voice systems, and augmented reality solutions individually or collectively.

Just as it is possible to rapidly build real-time applications in VANTIQ, it is also possible to quickly build integrations into both legacy and modern technologies. The VANTIQ Platform features pre-built integrations with most modern IoT and message transfer standards and technologies. It also comes with an Enterprise Connector SDK that makes it possible to build scalable and reliable connections to virtually any system. For example, VANTIQ recently built an effective integration with the OSIsoft PI system APIs in a matter of days. Additionally, VANTIQ Professional Services are available to assist developers as necessary.

In many applications, security and scalability are an afterthought. POCs are built and then thrown away when production-quality systems need to be architected. VANTIQ is entirely different in that applications built in the platform–even POCs–are inherently secure and scalable right from the start. In many oil and gas scenarios, mission-critical systems cannot be taken down for upgrades or enhancements. The VANTIQ Platform allows for most applications to be updated while they are still running.

The company now has approximately 100 employees with offices in Japan, China, Singapore, Latin America, Europe, and headquarters in Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. VANTIQ has over 30 system integrator partners around the world building applications with the platform. In 2018, VANTIQ was rated as both a Gartner Cool Vendor and as the CODiE Award Winner for Best Platform as a Service. The platform has been featured in numerous Gartner reports as the only platform combining low-code, rapid application development and an event-driven architecture at its core.

Today, VANTIQ continues to push the boundaries of technology for real-time application platforms involving IoT, AI, edge computing, and other key technologies. A key aspect of VANTIQ is that it is future-proof. As advanced technologies continue to evolve and multiply, VANTIQ will increasingly function as the intelligent integration layer allowing companies to build complete applications with such technologies. To this end, VANTIQ is continuing to develop capabilities in its platform that enable multiple real-time applications to work in concert as powerful systems.

For more information, visit www.vantiq.com