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Explaining OSDU

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

There is growing buzz in the industry about the Open Subsurface Data Universe (OSDU) project. We heard more about what it is, how to work with a commercial provider, and how Energistics' standards are used in it, at a SPDM forum.

The first challenge with the Open Subsurface Data Universe project is to understand what it is, and why you might want to use it.

Michaël van der Haven, Senior Solutions Architect CGI, and solution architect for its 'CGI Pivot' OSDU platform, explained it like this, speaking at a Society of Petroleum Data Managers forum on June 22-24.

One of the main main reaons companies might want to use OSDU is to have a data platform which includes master data management, quality control, and which many applications run on. They can easily add new data sources, new software applications. It is also easy for data scientists to run scripts directly on the data.

Consider that most oil and gas companies have built their own data platform for their internal use. They typically manage to get some software applications to integrate with it.

But then they come across an application which needs special external technical help, from a company like CGI, to integrate it with their data platform, he said. And they might find that when their analytics staff want to take data out and do analysis, it is not so easy, because the data is in a custom format.

If their data was held in a OSDU standard platform, they should find many software applications available which integrate easily with it, and they can analyse the data any way they want.

Because of the standardisation, any application which runs on any OSDU implementation can also be run on another.

The OSDU platform is not a single service on the cloud, and one company's data is not mixed with any other companies' data. It is a standard way to store data on the cloud, with standards for interfacing with it over APIs, and handle security.

There are 200 companies collaborating to develop the standard, including developing open data formats, open APIs, and open security models.

A number of standard file formats can be used. Any new data sources to be added must be in standard, non-proprietary formats. OSDU is also developing some new data formats.

The standard Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) mean that software applications can speak to data in the OSDU platform 'in one language,' he said. 'Instead of having lots of bespoke solutions which look a bit different.'

The open security model is something Mr van der Haven 'really likes'. You often see a situation with companies' subsurface data installations where they have many applications each with its own security system. It gets very complicated using multiple applications at once.

With OSDU, you only have one security system for access to everything you are entitled to. And it can be integrated 'with virtually any security solution in your enterprise,' he says.

This architecture also means that there is no need to copy any data. You can easily access any data you are entitled to, wherever it is stored.

You can connect together different OSDU installations, or 'instances.' For example, while working in your main system, you want to access well data which is in another system operated by a different company.

For analytics, companies can have what Mr van der Haven describes as a 'highly performant analytics lifecycle,' with data management and analytics intertwined.

'It doesn't make sense to do analytics if you don't have a good process for data management,' he said. 'We enable data teams by supplying standardised kinds of data.'

As part of OSDU, there is also a legal system which you can adopt, to make sure you have a governance framework around the data.

Companies can easily change some aspect of OSDU for their organisations if they want to, such as to specify that certain data attributes are mandatory for certain files. You can also specify rules about data relations, for example to stop you from entering production data or a well log about a well which does not exist. Once they have set their rules, the platform can enforce them.

Testing environment

With a PaaS version of OSDU (like CGI's Pivot), it is easy to set up a testing environment which you can use to try out new data operations, such as a new data ingestion system, or an AI based data quality assessment tool.

This is basically done by creating a completely new 'OSDU instance'. So it has the same software and files as your main OSDU installation. But when you have built and tested your data operations system, you can move just the data operations system to your main OSDU installation, to run on your master data, and delete the test system completely.

OSDU is designed so that data in it is never deleted (other than by deleting the entire OSDU 'instance'), so this avoids you having to keep test data within your main OSDU installation.

CGI's offering

CGI is offering a commercial service built on OSDU, called 'CGI Pivot', which the company describes as an 'an instant, cost-effective PaaS-based implementation of the OSDU Data Platform.'

PaaS means Platform as a service.

OSDU can be a complex platform to deploy and operate, because there is a lot in it. So companies might prefer a third party such as CGI to run it, he says.

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