A high functioning intelligent digital oilfield requires an underlying communications network architecture that seamlessly provides the right data at the right time. There are three main segments to the data network that provide information, safety and control to an Oil & Gas operation:
- The edge network
- The core network
- The transport network
The edge network, also called the access network, connects all end devices and applications at the network edge, including the actual machines, sensors and computers that are used in the field operation. This includes SCADA and DCS devices, operational video surveillance and Wi-Fi for mobile field connectivity, to support BYOD, PDAs, laptops, VoIP phones, and RF-ID for asset control.
The core network, sometimes called the central network, links directly with the regional headquarters for the operation; it consists of routers and gateways. The core network, transport network and edge networks support reliable, timely and transparent delivery of data to and from end devices from different manufacturers that use various protocols released over an extended period of time. The entire network must also connect to, and support, specific servers at the headquarters or field offices that are interoperable with the different end device technology.
The transport network is the bridge between the core network and the edge network. Its function is to allow reliable and secure IP connectivity from each end device to the server that monitors/controls it in the core. Connecting the transport network with fiber optic cable provides high data capacity, low packet latency, and allows the network to support any technology that could be installed in the core or edge network. However, as mentioned above, fiber optic typically is not a viable solution for the transport network. For this reason, wireless connectivity is the medium of choice for the oilfield.
Want to learn more about The Intelligent Digital Oilfield? Click here to read our white paper.