Cloud services have become firmly entrenched in our everyday lives as we access more of what we do not through the hard drives on our computers, but through networks linked to our smartphones and tablets. The cloud is becoming an increasingly essential part of operating in industry as well, with more manufacturers taking advantage of the benefits of traveling light.
Bringing a new cloud solution to the oil and gas industry, ABB is partnering with GlobaLogix to provide a software-as-a-service (SaaS) SCADA based on ABB’s SCADAvantage product. Providing the SCADA through the cloud lowers upfront costs and reduces the operating risks and maintenance burden.
As the industry demands more security and reliability from SCADA systems, the architecture and maintenance of a system has become increasingly important. Some of the largest and most robust SCADA installations have been compromised recently and continue to operate without adequate protection.
ABB and GlobaLogix contend that the cloud-based solution provides a more secure environment for SCADA. GlobaLogix has built a highly secure and redundant cloud-based infrastructure to host ABB’s SCADA platform. The infrastructure provides access to 53 data centers in North America with 2,048 bit encryption that exceeds the current Department of Defense standards. The infrastructure also complies with the most stringent Tier 4 data center standards from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for mission-critical computer systems. The standard requires fully redundant subsystems and compartmentalized security zones.
Additional security is provided by Citrix authentication installed on each of the client’s laptops, desktops and tablets that provide access to the cloud-hosted SCADA system. Field operators can optionally be provided with password-protected web access to read-only data and key information to reduce exposure to malicious attacks and prevent operator errors.
“This cloud-based SCADA infrastructure can save companies money and time by eliminating the need to build and maintain their own dedicated server rooms, while reducing SCADA administration costs and overall risks,” said Sandy Taylor, head of ABB’s oil, gas and petrochemical business unit. “The overall return on investment time can be reduced by 25-30 percent or more.”
Clients are given full access to a completely customized set of their own SCADA screens. All data is housed in a database historian within the cloud. As needs evolve, the system can be converted to a traditionally hosted solution on a company’s dedicated servers.
“The openness of the SCADAvantage platform allows integration with third-party software in the cloud or remotely in a traditional, private server installation,” said Charles Nesser, business development manager for SCADAvantage at ABB. “Various combinations of private and cloud-based systems can create a hybrid architecture that minimizes IT overhead and provides rapid commissioning and deployment into operation.”
The platform also supports the plug-in of optional applications that are purpose-built for upstream and midstream operations. From artificial lift to pipeline contract management and leak detection, applications can be enabled easily and configured with alarms and callout notifications within the cloud framework at any time.