Halliburton Uses Amazon Aurora to Boost Performance by up to 30%


The emergence of cloud computing has enabled legacy products to quickly evolve to meet new market standards. Eight years ago, Halliburton Landmark, a provider of exploration and production (E&P) software solutions to oil and gas companies, saw the enormous potential in the cloud. So the company migrated its data-management software from its on-premises relational database to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) database, effectively transforming the product into a cloud-friendly software as a service (SaaS) that could better serve the current needs of its customers.

Halliburton Landmark used Amazon Aurora, a fully managed relational database built for the cloud, to transform its on-premises platform. In doing so, the company simultaneously improved the database’s scalability, availability, and reliability and removed the responsibility of its maintenance from the Halliburton Landmark team.

Oil pipeline of tanker colored blurred background.

We would gain up to a 30% performance boost on Aurora, depending on the use case and workflow.” 

Amanda Smith
Head of Research and Development for Information Management and Platform Technology

Pursuing an Open-Source Strategy into the AWS Cloud

Halliburton Landmark provides solutions and software-driven lifecycle insights for the E&P industry. More than 30 years ago, it launched its project data-management system, a software called OpenWorks®, which went on to become the de facto standard that many companies still rely on as the primary data-management tool for their upstream oil and gas petrotechnical applications. But Halliburton Landmark wanted to move away from offering software in favor of a SaaS. This would make it possible for oil and gas companies without their own development teams—or those that don’t want to spend resources on managing a database—to take advantage of the system. So the company set about turning its OpenWorks® software, which utilizes Oracle and was primarily on premises, into what would become a cloud-powered SaaS called Data Foundation, a DecisionSpace® 365 data platform. As a SaaS, the data platform not only uses cloud-native data stores to ingest and manage data at scale but also delivers a fully managed model that can be customized to many industries. 

In 2012, Halliburton Landmark identified more opportunities to use cloud-based solutions, developing a strategy to adopt cost-saving cloud technology across the board. As part of that strategy, it decided to include the option for a new fully managed cloud database service, Aurora, in addition to the traditional solution that OpenWorks® has run on for more than 30 years. Halliburton sought not only a solution that would cut costs, increase uptime and scaling capabilities, and seamlessly upgrade but also a managed service that would ease the load of operating as a SaaS provider—which drew the company to Aurora. “Over the past 30 years, we traditionally delivered solutions that the customers run and maintain,” says Amanda Smith, head of research and development for information management and platform technology at Halliburton Landmark. “As we became a cloud SaaS solution provider to these companies, the responsibility of maintaining their databases meant we had to have all those skill sets in house. With Aurora, we don’t need the in-house skill sets to manage databases anymore—we can play on those capabilities from AWS.”

Improving Performance Using Amazon Aurora

Because the on-premises source database and Aurora were different, Halliburton Landmark performed a two-step heterogeneous database migration. First, the company refactored the existing schema and code to an on-premises PostgreSQL database. “That meant we could deploy the PostgreSQL database on premises for some solutions that required it,” says Smith. Then Halliburton Landmark made the move to the cloud, migrating its on-premises PostgreSQL database to PostgreSQL-compatible Aurora. 

The move to Aurora enabled Halliburton Landmark to sell its products at a lower price point because customers no longer had to pay the licensing fees associated with traditional databases. It also increased the performance of Data Foundation: “We did a number of tests on running our applications on Aurora,” says Smith. “We would gain up to a 30 percent performance boost on Aurora, depending on the workflow and use case.” On Aurora, the platform can scale to meet user traffic and consumption demands. Smith says it’s a relief to know that the data is always secure with encryption at rest and in transit, especially since Halliburton Landmark is in the process of obtaining service organization controls (SOC) 2 certification for both its infrastructure and solutions—meaning an independent certified public accountant is determining whether the company has the appropriate service organization and controls safeguards and procedures in place to manage customer data. SOC 2 certification involves two separate reports: a Type 1 report, which measures system and control design based on SOC 2 criteria, and a Type 2 report, which measures operational effectiveness. Halliburton Landmark has received a Type 1 report for its iEnergy® Hybrid Cloud solution and has a Type 2 report in progress, scheduled for completion in 2021.

Because Aurora is a fully managed service, AWS is responsible for database operations including manual software patching, setup, configuration, and backup—and completes those tasks much faster than the Halliburton Landmark team was able to do when self-managing the original database. Software updates that took weeks or months with traditional databases now only take an hour or two with Aurora. “It’s a continuous upgrade,” says Srini Kethireddipalli, delivery manager for information management at Halliburton Landmark. “Customers are able to get what they want almost on a weekly basis.” But the major overall benefit of the migration is that Halliburton Landmark can operate as a SaaS provider without having to become an expert in the technologies its platform uses to run. Instead, the company is free to focus on innovating E&P solutions that use those technologies. “We are relying on AWS to provide these tools to us, and we are laying on top of them our expertise in the E&P space to deliver solutions,” says Smith. “Using AWS enables us to get to that endgame faster because we don’t need to be that bottom-level expert.”

Continuing to Optimize Operations through AWS Tools

Halliburton Landmark will continue to explore how to utilize AWS solutions in its operations. “Taking advantage of an AWS-managed service was our first step, and it was a really good first step,” says Smith. “Now we will continue to take advantage of more services and optimize our use of them.”

Halliburton Landmark saw the cloud as an opportunity to innovate and provide a better service to its customers. With Aurora, the company was able to transform its industry standard product from software into SaaS, becoming new again in the cloud to offer scale, performance, and support that its customers can rely on.

About Halliburton

Founded in 1919, Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. With approximately 40,000 employees, representing 140 nationalities in more than 80 countries, the company helps its customers maximize value throughout the lifecycle of the reservoir—locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production throughout the life of the asset.

Benefits of AWS

  • Improved performance by up to 30% depending on the use case and workflow
  • Upgrades in 1-2 hours compared to weeks or months
  • Saves staff time by removing the responsibility of managing the database
  • Enables secure encryption of data in transit and at rest

AWS Services Used

Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

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