When looking for an alternative to offsite vault storage, virtual tape storage in the cloud is now a viable option.  Virtual tapes, are essentially exact copies of physical tapes, including the management and insertion of markers that relate to the tape itself, like block marks, file marks, etc.  Traditionally, tape has been used for storage and archive of geophysical oil and gas data. Unlike regular data backup and recovery management, geophysical data formats have been developed with a tape based orientation – particularly in regards to certain formats such as LIS and SEGD data which do not easily lend themselves to processing from disk. 

There are many uses for virtual tape storage in the oil sector, the key ones being:

  • Maintaining tape file structure for data like SEGD which uses block level navigation to import into applications
  • Archival quality preservation of data for long term retention with an added layer of tape formatting
  • Use of a virtual tape library that acts and behaves like a tape silo, but without any hardware.

Years ago, Tape Ark undertook a world first using this state of the art technology with seismic data tapes.  The project was commissioned by one of Tape Ark’s international clients in a bid to increase the capability and performance of their in-house geophysicists. 

Tape Ark designed, developed and tested the process where geophysical data could be accessed and processed on site using Virtual Tape Library (VTL) technology, rather than a tape based data archive, which is more common place within the oil and gas industry.  Now, with the introduction of Tape Ark’s cloud based virtual tape library and tape drive, the same process can occur for large collection of data located anywhere in the world. 

Applications can connect to these virtual tape drives using iSCSI from their current applications and never need a tape, a tape drive or tape silo again.

The ability to access geophysical data rapidly from the VTL and therefore the correlating and substantial reduction in processing times are the immediate benefits of this technology to the oil industry.  The ability to capture intermediate processing streams and backup onto a VTL without interrupting ongoing processing streams are also a huge incentive to implement this technology.  This is simply not feasible using a tape based system.

The option for oil and gas organisations to introduce VTL technology into their acquisition and processing streams empowers them to process large volumes of pre and post stack field data within much smaller time frames – effectively increasing their performance and competitive positioning in the market place. 

VTL technology enables data to be stored in a tape like environment, preserving blocking structures and allowing the data to be accessed, processed and copied like a tape, but hosted in the cloud. This is particularly important for geophysical data, where it is critical to preserve data formats and header/blocking structures or large volumes of data.  The VTL concept also ensures that future tape migration projects become redundant – and Tape Ark will populate the VTL for free.

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