Business Challenge

Moving large seismic data sets for oil exploration from ship to shore to accelerate field research and analysis.


Aspera high-speed transfer servers deployed on-premises in the on-shore data center and Aspera transfer clients deployed on a host computer on each of the vessels.


Remarkable Speed

Transfers at the full available bandwidth capacity of the satellite connection and quickly ramps up to 40 Mbps+ when vessels move into higher capacity WiMAX zones.

Guaranteed data integrity

Guarantees data is transferred with 100% integrity even with low quality connectivity including high packet loss and disconnects.

Robust to network outages

Automatically retries and resumes transfers from the point of interruption to reduce the impact of network outages

Business Challenge Story

Speeding ship to shore data transfers

The start-up costs for setting up a new drilling platform offshore can be extremely high – typically starting at $1 billion USD – and thus marine services to vet candidate-drilling locations are critical to increasing the likelihood of discovering a productive drilling site, and maximizing the return on this investment. An effective marine services company uses a variety of high precision seismic measurement and analysis techniques to assess the quality of a potential drilling site. These techniques use data intensive high performance computing (HPC) processes with preliminary result data that has in the past been physically transported to shore for early analysis, e.g. by expensive helicopter or other means.  This process is costly and limited in scale and could be dramatically more effective if the resultant data could be transferred directly to shore for early analysis over IP networks.

This leading marine services company was familiar with Aspera’s high-speed transfer software, having used it for several years for terrestrial seismic file and data transfers. As higher bandwidth satellite IP connections and WiMAX bandwidth became available on its vessels, the company decided to capitalize on the opportunity and begin digital transfer of its data directly from ship to shore. Additionally, the company recognized that the same technology platform could solve the challenges of getting critical files such as documents, data sets and instructional videos out to crews to allow them to remain on the water and operate more effectively for longer periods of time. Finally, the company had familiarity with the Aspera APIs and recognized that the investment in the Aspera software platform could allow for future integration with the data pipeline for real-time transfer of growing files and data sets with Aspera’s byte stream APIs.

Transformation Story

IBM Aspera High-Speed Transfer Server and Endpoints

The solution consists of the IBM Aspera High-speed Transfer Server software deployed at the company’s data center on shore, and IBM Aspera High-speed Transfer Endpoint software on a host computer on each of the vessels. The endpoint computer mounts the same storage used by an HPC cluster used for data analytics such that newly generated files and directories are automatically sent via the built-in watch folder capability in the Aspera endpoint. The watchfolder transfers automatically send files and directories as they are ready on the source system and provides automatic retry and resume of interrupted files and directories from the point where transfer left off in the case of a network outage, which is common in these distant and highly mobile situations. Operators also take advantage of the built-in command line transfer binary, ‘ascp’ for automated scripting of transfers in analytics pipelines.

The IBM Aspera Shares web application is deployed on a host at the company’s data center on shore, providing a secure authenticated and easy-to-use web interface for teams to publish files for crews on the vessels to browse and download. Each end user has access to only those directories (“shares”) to which he or she has permission and can browse and download documents, videos and data files directly to any host on the vessel running the IBM Aspera Connect browser extension.  

Administrators can easily configure directories on the server storage with fine-grained access control by user or user group including browse, upload, and download permissions via the Shares interface; changes are automatically visible to end users on shore and the crews at sea allowing for easy collaboration around documents, videos and data files regardless of file size or quantity. The scalability of Aspera Shares and performance of the Aspera FASP protocol ensure that directories with millions of files or very large files can be browsed and downloaded with ease over wireless connections.

Results Story

Enhanced marine services from faster, more reliable transfers

“Transfers over the satellite connections are consistently 6-8 Mbps with Aspera FASP (at full available band-width capacity) and ramp up to 40 Mbps+ when the vessels move into the WiMAX zone and bandwidth capacity increases, noticeably much faster,” said the lead system operator. 

Encryption at rest and in transit built into the Aspera FASP protocol ensures files stored on the storage exposed by the Aspera server host remain private and can be decrypted only by authorized teams and users.  Finally, the company can connect Aspera Shares to its LDAP, Active Directory and Single Sign On systems allowing for scalable user authentication and security as the system’s use grows.

Marine Services for Oil Exploration

A large oil and gas marine services provider.

Solution Components

Take the next step

TTo learn more about the IBM Aspera solutions featured in this story, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner.