Schlumberger provides connectivity to challenging locations

Schlumberger is well known in the oil industry as a provider of communications solutions. Now, it's opening up connectivity services to a broader segment of enterprises.

What does a real-time broadcast from the site of the Titanic have in common with the network security infrastructure at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games? Both are examples of how Schlumberger LTD has begun to leverage its technologies to provide enterprises with connectivity in hard-to-reach locations.

Schlumberger has been meeting the challenging communications needs of the oil industry for many years. Now it’s using its networking and security expertise to provide services to other enterprises. Organizations are increasingly turning to the types of solutions Schlumberger can offer—solutions that provide communications links to employees and branch offices regardless of their location.

Because of its role as a pioneer in internetworking and its experience with the petroleum industry, Schlumberger is in a unique position to provide a wide array of networking solutions to enterprises with vastly different requirements. If you have challenging needs in establishing connectivity to remote offices or employees, Schlumberger may offer a service that can meet those needs.

About Schlumberger
Schlumberger was founded in France in 1927 to provide technology solutions to the oil-field industry. From its initial offering of technology that greatly improved exploration of oil and gas deposits, Schlumberger has grown into a global enterprise that provides communications and security solutions to the oil-field industry and to other enterprises as well.

Schlumberger’s experience allows it to offer technologies that other companies don’t. Recognizing this advantage, Schlumberger has taken its knowledge and expertise and crafted them into DeXa.Net, a suite of IT services.

Schlumberger is using its global network—which spans 95 countries worldwide—to provide an array of services under the DeXa.Net umbrella. The existing infrastructure enables Schlumberger to provide networking services that include:
  • Managed VPN services.
  • Secure private networks via its global IP/MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) infrastructure.
  • Very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite connectivity.
  • Network security.

Schlumberger’s services stand out in the areas of security and remote access. Because its roots are in providing communications technology to oil and gas companies, Schlumberger has developed considerable expertise in establishing and securing links to hard-to-reach places. It can use its existing points of presence to provide customers with high-speed VSAT connectivity to just about anywhere.

“We technically go where the traditional communications providers don’t go,” said Clint Brown, Schlumberger's manager of global connectivity solutions. “That’s where we see ourselves as significantly different from a telco and how it might operate.”

Competition in the petroleum industry made it necessary for Schlumberger to ensure that data transmitted over the links it provided was protected. In addition to traditional security measures—encryption, checkpoints, firewalls—Schlumberger also offers network access security products in its DeXa.Badge and DeXa.Port lines.

DeXa.Badge is a smart-card technology that provides for complete access control in a credit-cardlike device. The DeXa.Badge can control employee access to buildings, networks, e-mail, and encrypted files.

DeXa.Port is its own suite of services aimed at securing e-business on the Internet. A secure Web backbone and smart-card technology are important elements in this solution.

Schlumberger thus combines traditional measures and other data security measures with physical access control devices to prevent unauthorized users from physically entering restricted areas and from accessing points on the network.

Another service Schlumberger provides through its existing infrastructure is on-demand transmission.

“It’s really about providing bursting capability in a nonbursting environment,” Brown said. “Customers can book and pay for—and we guarantee—certain capacity at certain times.”

If an organization needed to do a major file transfer, for example, it could pay for the capacity at the time of the transfer. Brown said the service is useful for collaboration between sites that need to establish communications or data transfer at specific times.

Most of the services and technologies Schlumberger provides are industrial class.

“The way I’ve constructed the portfolio is that you have a core network at the middle of everything with the VSAT connectivity, which extends the reach of the network to difficult areas.”

Brown said customers can use the infrastructure and services as a means of accessing apps via traditional connections—such as the Internet, ATM, and frame relay—in a secure environment.

The key elements in the services Schlumberger wants to provide to enterprises outside the petroleum industry seem to be the leveraging of its existing infrastructure, which has considerable reach, and the securing of data through encryption and access control technology.

Case studies
Examples of the capabilities of Schlumberger’s technologies include the connectivity solution it implemented for a documentary on the Titanic and the security it provided to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Schlumberger’s VSAT capabilities were a crucial part of the documentary project, enabling a real-time broadcast of filming taking place at the site of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean.

John Cameron produced and directed On Expedition With: Ghosts of the Abyss, which was broadcast live to viewers around the world via DeXa.Net VSAT links.

The LAN on board the ship used in the expedition linked to a VSAT antenna at a Schlumberger site near Houston via an asymmetric single carrier per channel (SCPC) circuit using an INTELSAT satellite. The receiving antenna transmitted the signal from the ship to a studio in Los Angeles.

The communications links Schlumberger provided enabled the crew to transmit and receive data, voice, and e-mail throughout the expedition and ensured that the program could be broadcast in real time without disruption of service.

Cameron acknowledged that the success of the program was largely due to the reliable communications links that Schlumberger provided to give viewers a real-time experience.

Schlumberger's IT services segment, SchlumbergerSema, provided network security solutions to the Winter Olympic Games. “We did a security map,” said Sally Charpiot, Schlumberger director of marketing communications. “We figured where the points of intrusion might be and mapped the architecture around security.”

Charpiot said the solution included firewalls, methodologies, and practices that the company put in place to ensure that the data and network communications remained secure. Part of that effort included testing the security that Schlumberger’s consultants implemented.

“We ran scenarios where we tried to think like hackers and break into the system,” Charpiot said.

SchlumbergerSema was responsible for securing data such as event results, athlete profiles, and historical data, as well as data residing in the Games Management System that SchlumbergerSema developed.

As a result of SchlumbergerSema's success in securing the network communications at the Winter Olympics, it has signed a contract to implement security solutions at the 2004, 2006, and 2008 Olympic Games.

Branching out
After years of serving the petroleum industry and pioneering many communications and security technologies, Schlumberger is moving toward packaging its services for other types of organizations that require Schlumberger's unique expertise in reaching remote locations and securing those links.

DeXa.Net represents an important step by Schlumberger to leverage its far-reaching infrastructure and points of presence to offer organizations communications links that they might not otherwise be able to achieve.

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