4-page Case Study
Posted: 8/27/2010
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Forest Oil Major Oil & Gas Company Lowers Total Cost of Ownership and Gains Competitive Edge by Migrating From Oracle to SQL Server 2008

Forest Oil Corporation – a major Oil & Gas company based in Denver, Colorado, implemented a corporate strategy to entrust employees with the responsibility to grow the company by reducing costs in all areas of their respective business units, and by preserving financial flexibility, with attention to “disciplined spending” within every department in the company.

The executive management at the corporation decided to streamline the IT environment onto a single platform. Forest Oil’s IT department was charged with supporting a major company goal: cost reduction in all areas of the business. By migrating to Microsoft SQL Server 2008, IT immediately significantly lowered their total cost of ownership. In addition to lowering costs, the IT team’s goal was to deploy new functionality to the business units, and facilitate a competitive edge against key industry rivals. 

Situation

Based in Denver, Colorado, Forest Oil was founded in 1916. After 94 years in business, it ranks as one of the largest independent exploration and oil production companies in the United States and Canada, with 500 employees, and annual revenue of over $1 billion.

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* One of the reasons for migrating from Oracle to SQL Server was a lower total cost of ownership. We are realizing savings in excess of $100K annually. In addition, our new platform is giving us a competitive advantage over our peers and puts us ahead of the game in our industry. *

Michael Enright
Chief Architect, Forest Oil

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Forest Oil maintains a small IT department of about 30 employees. The major challenges for the department were to significantly reduce IT costs and stimulate the company’s growth. In addition to cost savings, the IT department was challenged with two critical objectives: 1) to support their employees with the tools and data they needed to perform their job more efficiently thus increasing productivity, and 2) to provide enhanced functionality to give the company a substantial advantage against key competitors in the Oil and Gas industry.

“We had to manage the user community's expectations, and help them prioritize their list of requirements. We needed to demonstrate to them where they would get the most benefits from, and how we can get those to them in a timely way,” says Michael Enright, Chief Architect at Forest Oil. Employees have to collect information quickly, and be able to make nimble decisions based on real-time, factual data. The IT department knew it had to be able to deliver on those needs.

The business units had specific requirements for supporting exploration, development, production, and marketing of natural gas and crude oil. The legacy systems running on Oracle could no longer meet these needs. There are but a few software options in the marketplace that support the Oil and Gas industry requirements.

The IT department looked at options to streamline the company’s existing systems. As Enright explains, “With a small IT staff, you need to stay efficient to meet the demands of the user community as well as providing top notch support.”

An internal analysis revealed that Oracle was too costly, which was interfering with the company’s goal to reduce costs. Migrating to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 created money saving opportunities by eliminating the Oracle database administrator, which is outsourced to a 3rd party provider and Oracle’s expensive licensing and maintenance fees.

Solution

Forest Oil decided to update and improve the legacy applications by replacing the Oracle database system with Microsoft SQL Server 2008. This gave the company more power, flexibility, and greater options for their employees. At Forest Oil, the IT department’s purpose is to act in a supporting role by helping the employees work more efficiently, and by giving them vital information that is readily available. In other words, the IT department wanted to align their goals with the corporate strategy of the company. Enright mentions that his department launched the project by choosing applications with the highest profile, and largest impact to the company.

The business stakeholders now have more flexibility and easy access to information because all applications, sources, and new data are now on one platform.

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* We had to manage the user community's expectations, and help them prioritize their list of requirements. We needed to demonstrate to them where they would get the most benefits from, and how we can get those to them in a timely way. *

Michael Enright
Chief Architect, Forest Oil

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The entire migration project was planned and executed over a 1-year period. During the migration process, over 300 employees needed to maintain connectivity to the mission-critical applications at all times. This required the deployment of a parallel system.

The migration project team encountered big challenges with migrating the Oracle data schemas, functions and procedures onto the SQL Server 2008 platform. Precise planning and execution enabled the team to master these challenges. When Oracle sequences needed to be eliminated, the project team came up with an elegant solution that mimicked the Oracle sequences.

During the migration, new test versions were frequently released. As each test version proved successful, the production version was released. Once data comparison procedures determined that the data for the new system matched the old data 100 percent, the users of this data were moved to the new system. The old databases were shut down one by one.

“We had a 1 year time frame for the whole project, and every 2-3 weeks we created test releases, and then production releases. There was immediate benefit to the business units because we migrated the most important application first,” says Enright.

Forest Oil’s migration project was of immense proportions. The entire project migrated over 2000 tables, 200 stored procedures and more than 200 GB of data. More importantly, Forest Oil migrated one of their most mission-critical applications, Forecasting, onto the SQL Server platform. This had never been done at Forest Oil, nor had it ever been done in the industry.

The computer systems migration also included the use of SQL Server’s Analytical and Reporting Services, which enables fast modifications for future in-house application development. The IT department is aware that the company’s growth comes with change and re-alignment. The IT department wants to be pro-active in assisting business leaders manage and enhance that change.

The entire migration process was executed flawlessly and smoothly. According to Forest Oil, this was due to the excellent level of support from Microsoft and its professional support personnel.

Benefits

For Forest Oil, the migration from Oracle to SQL Server 2008 not only lowered the total cost of ownership. It also provided the basis for a near real-time system. Thanks to SQL Server’s superior performance and reliability, the engineers and geologists have access to up-to-the-minute information on drilling in the field, as well as access to historical data that spawns decades. This enables the company to faster and more accurately respond to changes in supply and demand, which has a vast strategic impact. Today, Forest Oil’s new system uses SQL Server 2008 to its maximum advantage, gives employees a wide distribution of readily available data, and aligns with the company’s objectives to reduce costs.

Forest Oil no longer needs to contract an Oracle DBA, is able to eliminate future Oracle licensing fees, and drop their maintenance support. This amounts to annual savings of over $100,000.

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* If we get people from outside and they have Microsoft skills, they can come in and run. It will not take our staff years to figure it all out. They only need to learn our infrastructure, and our data flows. We don't have to train them on the technology. *

Michael Enright
Chief Architect, Forest Oil

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In addition, migrating to SQL Server 2008 has streamlined the knowledge base of the IT staff. The entire IT staff now has more time to focus on services with high value-added, and the capability to provide employees with the data and the level of support that they need.

Forest Oil sees itself as a Microsoft shop by dedicating its resources to Microsoft products, especially SQL Server 2008. “If we get people from outside and they have Microsoft skills, they can come in and run. It will not take our staff years to figure it all out. They only need to learn our infrastructure, and our data flows. We don't have to train them on the technology,” states Michael Enright, Chief Architect at Forest Oil.

Streamlining the IT infrastructure to Microsoft products supports top priority business and strategic initiatives for Forest Oil and facilitates competitive advantage. By migrating to SQL Server 2008, critical data on which to base business decisions is more readily available. In addition, the IT department makes a large contribution to one of Forest Oil’s key business objectives of continued attention to disciplined spending.


Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 delivers higher scalability for mission-critical environments, more efficient IT, and expanded reporting and analytics through self-service business intelligence.

For more information about Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, go to:

www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/R2-editions.aspx%20

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

www.microsoft.com

For more information about Forest Oil Corporation products and services, call (303) 812-1400 or visit the Web site at: www.forestoil.com

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 500 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Denver, Colorado, Forest Oil was founded in 1916. After 94 years in business, it ranks as one of the largest independent exploration and oil production companies in the United States and Canada, with 500 employees, and annual revenue of over $1 billion.


Business Situation

The legacy system, running on Oracle, could not provide the functionality required to solve the software needs of the business units. Very few options in the marketplace support the Oil & Gas industry requirements. The IT department was asked to change their technical strategy, and lower spending.


Solution

Forest Oil decided to migrate their legacy systems, operating on an Oracle database system, to a new SQL Server 2008 platform.


Benefits

  • Lowered Total Cost of Ownership
  • Gained competitive advantage by providing access to drilling data at near real time to engineers
  • Reduced burden on IT staff


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

Vertical Industries
Process Manufacturing & Resources

Country/Region
United States

Languages
English

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