Woodside breaks data problem with Cabletron

In an ongoing project to upgrade its network capacity and overcome data bottlenecks, Perth-based oil and gas producer Woodside Energy has installed Gigabit Ethernet technology from Cabletron.

In addition, the company has used the upgrade project to better leverage the benefits of Cabletron's Spectrum management software, already installed across the company.

According to Chris Marshall, head of IT infrastructure at Woodside Energy, the implementation of Gigabit Ethernet SmartSwitch routers from Cabletron has increased data thoughput on the network more than one hundredfold.

"As a result, Woodside's expensive analytical computers, and the geophysicists who operate them, are able to perform data analysis at more than twice the rate that they would before the upgrade," officials said.

According to Marshall, Gigabit Ethernet technology was selected for the upgrade because of the bandwidth capacity that was needed.

Whilst technology from other vendors was considered Marshall said Cabletron's products best fitted the criteria. He was unable to release details about specific criteria for the network.

Marshall also said Woodside already had some switched Ethernet equipment from Cabletron installed.

According to Roger Newman, Woodside's team leader for network services, Cabletron provided a simple migration from the old network. "It's just a matter of adding SmartSwitch routers where they are needed," he said. "They are inexpensive as well. We just added another card into the switched router. It's a simple upgrade, so it's easily scalable."

According to Marshall, in addition to providing more bandwidth and making better use of the existing bandwidth, the Gigabit Ethernet technology was also suitable to handle adding new applications in the future as well as the move to a new building in a few years time.

According to Newman, a driving force for the upgrade was the necessity to increase data throughput. Woodside users were frustrated because the computers used for the seismic data analysis were not able to obtain sufficient data throughput.

"[Users] were saying we're not getting value for our investment," Newman said.

"The Enterprise 4000 servers were CPU-idle -- they could not get enough data to process because of the bottlenecks occurring in the old network."

According to Marshall, there are several other benefits of the new network in addition to increased capacity.

He said Woodside has been able to build several virtual local area networks (VLAN) reducing traffic travelling the whole network.

Marshall said parts of the VLAN have already been tested and installed.

"We needed to make better use of the technology and VLAN was one way," he said.

Another important benefit stemming from the upgrade project is the increased use of Cabletron's Spectrum management tool.

According to Marshall, Woodside has been using a small part of Spectrum for some time, but is hoping to "make better use of the product". "We haven't been using it to its fullest extent."

Woodside intends to increase its network monitoring and reporting, manage configurations and improve its enterprise management capability through using Spectrum more efficiently, Marshall said.

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