Cognite: Creating real-time models of Aker BP

About Cognite

Scandinavia-based Cognite creates efficiencies for industry through its advanced IIoT platform that liberates and contextualises data for process optimisation, visualisations, and machine learning.

Industries: Utilities
Location: Norway

By building its IIoT platform on Google Cloud Bigtable and Google Managed Services, Cognite delivers a reliable, real-time virtual representation of operations, live and historical, at a major oil company.

Google Cloud Results

  • Streams more than 500,000 events per second of live and historical data in real time
  • Helps ensure high security with encryption at rest and granular rights administration
  • Delivers excellent stability with autoscaling on managed services

Reliable data streaming in milliseconds, not minutes

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector is still new. In 2017, it was reported that under 10% of the top 50 IoT players earn annual revenues of more than $10 million, and fewer than 20% provide comprehensive industrial platforms. Norwegian startup Cognite delivers both, standing out from the crowd with a successful IIoT platform that offers a total solution for clients in the oil and gas industry, and beyond.

“We sit with customers and look at the short- and long-term wins that can be achieved with digitisation,” says Dr. Francois Laborie, CMO at Cognite. “Our secure, scalable IIoT platform breaks data out of locked and proprietary silos and puts it into context. We create a complete picture of the whole industrial apparatus with algorithms that map immensely complex projects, then start optimising, with visualisations, machine learning, automation, and preventive maintenance.”

Unlike other IIoT solutions in the marketplace, which have theoretical models but lack comprehensive access to data, Cognite is already implementing its system with a major partner. Aker BP is one of the largest oil and gas operators in the North Sea and has invited Cognite to develop its technology and train its algorithm with its real data.

“By combining Google Cloud Bigtable as a core index searcher with Cognite software, we’ve created a solution that performs 50 times faster than the next best alternative for handling time series data. For Aker BP, that means monitoring oil platforms anywhere, in real time, for the first time.”

Dr. John Markus Lervik, CEO, Cognite

“As far as we know, this is the only installation in the world where a software product like ours has access to all the operational data of a large and complex industrial company,” says Dr. John Markus Lervik, CEO at Cognite. “The Cognite platform can stream more than 500,000 events per second in real time from equipment, historical data, and more than 50 different applications.”

By using Cognite, Aker BP aims to drive down OpEx and CapEx, reduce downtime, and increase safety and security through data-driven optimisations. Aker BP has active, ongoing operations in the North Sea, so errors carry the serious risk of direct, costly damage to staff and the environment. That’s why Cognite looked to build its SaaS solution on what it believes to be the most robust, secure, low latency cloud infrastructure available.

“Whether an oil rig sensor detects temperature, vibration, flow, pressure, or other variables, it produces time series data hundreds, if not thousands, of times a second,” says John Markus. “By combining Google Cloud Bigtable as a core index searcher with Cognite software, we’ve created a solution that performs 50 times faster than the next best alternative for handling time series data. For Aker BP, that means monitoring oil platforms in real time, for the first time.”

“Without Google Cloud Platform, it would have been impossible to monitor more than half a million time series values every second. Now we can scale to 10 times that with ease using Google Cloud Bigtable. And because it's a managed service we don’t worry about loading in another 5 or 10 million readings a second.”

Geir K. Engdahl, CTO, Cognite

Autoscaling for stability

Proprietary data formats pose major challenges for IIoT platforms, as Francois explains: “It can be impossible for customers to make sense of their data. Manufacturers build their own data ecosystems and invite others to them, taking ownership of the data in the process and entrenching silos. At the same time, data lakes are emerging that can only take you so far when you look to apply machine learning or analytics. We believe that contextualised data, kept in a hierarchy is much more practical.”

Modern IIoT applications, such as training machine learning models or visualising long time intervals, demand fast access to live and historical data. However, early iterations of platform solutions struggled with high volumes and multiple queries, delivering data in minutes instead of seconds, and sometimes collapsing under the load. The Cognite team experimented with infrastructure from major cloud providers and faced high costs due to implementation details in common NoSQL key value stores and cumbersome portals before opting for Google Cloud Platform.

By basing its software on scalable managed services in Google Cloud Platform, Cognite created a low latency platform with great security that stores data close to customers. Using Google Cloud Bigtable as a storage backend for raw and aggregated time series data, Cognite can take advantage of support for sequential scans and decoupled storage from nodes to handle massive quantities of data on demand. In the same way that Cognite uses managed services including Google Kubernetes Engine, Google Stackdriver, Google Cloud Dataflow, and Google Cloud Pub/Sub, Google Cloud Bigtable scales to match demand, helping eliminate stability problems caused by high loads.

“Without Google Cloud Platform, it would have been impossible to monitor more than half a million time series values every second,” says Geir Engdahl, CTO at Cognite. “Now we can scale to 10 times that with ease using Google Cloud Bigtable. And because it's a managed service we don’t worry about loading in another 5 or 10 million readings a second. It just scales. Magic!”

Improving security for clients

Alongside stability, Google Cloud Platform delivers excellent security for Cognite and its clients. Encryption at rest and encryption during transfers helps to reassure stakeholders, as does the superior physical security of cloud data centers compared to on-premises setups.

Beyond infrastructure, Google Cloud Platform also enables administrators to enforce granular regulation on access rights. “We can easily moderate who has access to see aspects of data, some of which is confidential,” says Francois. “We can implement access rights all the way down to the application level and revoke them dynamically, so we have very good control.”

“We believe that Google Cloud Platform is the most secure platform out there,” says John Markus. “That makes oil platforms safer. There are a lot of systems at a facility that can be attacked, and when they keep data in Cognite on Google Cloud Platform, it's extremely well protected. We believe it’s safer than a bank.”

“The key advantages to working with Google are the raw technology and the access to the Google team. For the first time you can access data in seconds. Being able to correlate all this historical and live data is a big ‘wow’ for everyone involved.”

Dr. John Markus Lervik, CEO, Cognite

From minutes to milliseconds

Thanks to Google Cloud Bigtable, Cognite now achieves 200 to 300 millisecond response times for all data access, both live and historical. Instead of waiting for minutes, or risking major crashes that could take hours to fix, the company’s platform delivers the real-time data flows from multiple sources that underpin its model of Aker BP’s systems. That unprecedented understanding is set to lead to major optimisations as both Aker BP and Cognite learn from their discoveries.

“The key advantages to working with Google are the raw technology and the access to the Google team,” says John Markus. “Google delivers the network, scalability, and power to search and access massive amounts of data, whether that’s sensor data or 3D drawings. For the first time you can access it in seconds. Being able to correlate all this historical and live data is a big wow for everyone involved.”

About Cognite

Scandinavia-based Cognite creates efficiencies for industry through its advanced IIoT platform that liberates and contextualises data for process optimisation, visualisations, and machine learning.

Industries: Utilities
Location: Norway
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