Pacific Drilling S.A. is an offshore drilling company that provides global ultra-deepwater drilling services to the oil and natural gas industry through the use of high-specification drillships. It recently teamed with Protera Technologies to create a solution hosted on AWS that combines SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications with Protera services. The solution halves the company’s SAP TCO and doubles its SAP HANA capacity.

Overview

With one of the newest and most technologically advanced fleets in the world, Pacific
Drilling has grown into a successful, premium drilling contractor. Its state-of-the-art, high-specification drillships benefit from a proven design and highly developed construction technologies. The company currently has nearly 1000 employees at locations that range from the corporate offices in Houston, TX, to branch offices in Brazil, Nigeria, and Luxembourg.
Throughout Pacific Drilling’s development, the company has remained dedicated to becoming the preferred ultra-deepwater drilling contractor. It is committed to operating with the utmost integrity. With a focus on safety, Pacific Drilling continues to combine the strength of a large, well-capitalized enterprise with the agility and flexibility of a small solution provider to benefit its customers, suppliers, employees, and the communities in which it operates.

The Challenge

Like any company in the oil and natural gas industries, Pacific Drilling cannot control the price of the natural resources it helps to harvest. As Christian Wissman, vice president of Global Alliances at Protera Technologies observes, “The oil and gas economy is currently a challenging environment for oil and gas organizations. They need to adjust to decreasing demand by better controlling the cost of operation and investment.”
One of the ways that Pacific Drilling Company sought to reduce operating costs was to reduce the cost of its existing IT infrastructure—particularly its SAP infrastructure—which included SAP ERP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA; SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ); SAP Gateway; SAP Government, Risk, and Compliance (GRC); SAP Mobile Platform (SMP); SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server (SLT); SAP Web Dispatcher (WebDisp); SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (PI); SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC); TREX search engine; BSI Tax Factory; Microsoft Active Directory (AD); and Sailpoint IdentityNow.
“SAP tends to be a heavy IT environment, requiring expert support and maintenance resources,” Wissman explains.

“The move [to SUSE on AWS], was straightforward from a financial standpoint. Total cost of ownership is half the price with twice the HANA capacity.”

SUSE Solution

Pacific Drilling selected Protera Technologies to help it reduce IT operating costs for several reasons, beginning with Protera’s reputation as a world-class services provider. Among other things, Protera built its reputation on its deep SAP HANA migration and operation experience, proactive SAP and SAP HANA systems monitoring capabilities, and longstanding relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Protera offers its SAP operation and support services through Protera AppCare, its own state-of-the-art delivery platform that enables an array of global SAP and IT solutions.
Protera recommended that Pacific Drilling migrate its entire SAP implementation to SUSE on AWS because SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications supports a number of SAP scenarios in production on AWS, including: S/4HANA, Business Suite, Business Warehouse and BPC on HANA, HANA Live and Sidecar, and Business One for SAP HANA. It also supports prebuilt images on AWS.
In addition, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications on AWS offers:

  • Built-in SUSE high availability (HA) across AWS zones and regions
  • Support for SAP HA and disaster recovery (DR) standards for HANA
  • Collaborative SUSE, AWS, and SAP support
  • And much more

From an operational standpoint, where SUSE comes into play is that SUSE has all kinds of features that are designed from the ground up for running SAP HANA,” Wissman explains. “Then from Protera’s standpoint, our Center of Excellence has done lots of research to fully leverage the benefits of SUSE for SAP in our Protera AppCare platform.”
AWS brings its own set of advantages to the SUSE solution, including hardware and software cost savings. As Wissman explains, “Moving to HANA means that the entire SAP environment runs in memory versus running on disk. You have significant server requirements in terms of server ties when you run HANA.”
Moving to AWS and SUSE versus running SAP on traditional servers significantly reduced the cost of compute and storage. Migrating from a Windows environment to a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server environment further simplified and reduced the cost of Pacific Drilling’s SAP implementation by replacing the old dual-host system with a single-host system.
“With the move to AWS, we chose SUSE and we are now running both the HANA database and the ECC application on the same SUSE instance. This reduces the footprint and allows for additional savings. Yet, our solution is highly resilient,” Borodaty notes. The final element of Pacific Drilling’s solution is around-the-clock management, which Protera’s team performs efficiently using the AppCare platform. AppCare is based on SUSE and includes tools for connecting, operating, monitoring, and backing up the entire SAP landscape.
“It’s an entire platform that comes as a cost-optimized and operations-optimized application management solution for running SAP. Running on SUSE and AWS, the solution is at the same time robust, secure, and flexible to accommodate Pacific Drilling’s requirements today and in the future when improving market conditions support new business expansion opportunities,” says Wissman.
This innovative solution is so well appointed that it recently drew the attention of the SAP HANA Innovation Awards Program, which named Pacific Drilling an Honorable Mention Special Award winner in the 2017 SAP HANA Innovation Award category.

The Results

Pacific Drilling benefits from its SUSE for SAP on AWS solution in two ways. It takes advantage of significant efficiencies that are available with running SAP HANA on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on AWS—which translates to all kinds of savings, including savings on compute, storage, and maintenance operations. And it also provides resilience above and beyond other platforms that Pacific Drilling assessed, including provisions for disaster recovery. ”It is a strategic move for our IT department,” Borodaty affirms.
As Wissman explains, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has numerous features for enhancing the overall customer experience. “These features are available natively on AWS: It’s a complete solution stack with integration from AWS resources to operating systems to the SAP application layer we are looking at here,” he adds. “For Pacific Drilling, it really reduces the cost of operation. Not just cost of operation over one day or one week, but really when you look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) over three years, this is where you see the significant savings.”
How significant are the savings? Borodaty projects that the entire solution will save Pacific Drilling roughly $1 million over three years. As Borodaty puts it, “The move [to SUSE on AWS], was straightforward from a financial standpoint. Total cost of owner-ship is half the price with twice the HANA capacity.”
The company achieved these savings through a mixture of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server’s native efficiencies and the AWS cloud’s native sizing and consumption efficiencies. “It’s adjusting its size and the cost of the operation of the organization to what the economy allows them to operate with,” Wissman notes. “They are augmenting their services staff and they are running on a known cloud leader.”