At Seequent, things never stand still.
Products are continuously evolving to match the demands of an ever-changing world and deliver the most value to users.
And Seequent Central is no exception.
Here, we’re going to take a look at what drove the creation of Central and how the latest improvements have made it an even more valuable tool for managing geoscience data.
Managing version control
Central was first created to overcome the challenges associated with version control of models. Peter Joynt, Central Product Manager, explains that this was due to teams and individuals working locally in isolation: “If you’re working on your computer and don’t save your files to the network drive until the end of the day, then the entire process is fundamentally disconnected and ad hoc in terms of version control.”
Jacob de Lacey, Director of Data Solutions, says that this was potentially costing companies huge amounts of both time and money:
“Without a clear, exact, time-stamped log of the versioning, it became very difficult for someone joining a project to know where to start. They could end up spending far too much time simply clarifying which was the latest version and what was most important for the next build. There were also instances of multimillion-dollar mine planning decisions being made based on the wrong version of a model.”
The answer that Central delivered was a visual representation of the progression of a project over time and how each revision is linked to previous ones. It automatically captures the username and date of each version and these can be added to with metadata and comments. Central allows users to create separate branches or pathways for specific modelling purposes or keep one linear pathway according to the project’s needs.
But that was just the beginning.
Better data management, automated workflows, and enhanced visualisation
“Version control was the key challenge to solve immediately,” says Peter. “But the product has expanded significantly since to meet other challenges.”
One such challenge is the vast amount of data that large projects generate — sometimes tens of gigabytes. Even with a fast connection, transferring this amount of data takes a long time, and storing all the different versions uses up a large amount of expensive storage space.
To mitigate this, Central applies de-duplication technology so that only new or changed elements are uploaded and stored. This reduces the overall amount of data stored and ultimately helps customers save time and money.
Additionally, Central now includes workflows that allow multiple people to work on their own parts of a model and then combine them together — another significant time-saver and efficiency-enhancer.
And better visualisation lets users see how far a project has progressed or quickly jump in and carry out a peer review.
The biggest change to visualisation in Seequent Central is the move from an application installed locally on computers to a fully cloud-based solution that runs in a web browser. This has delivered a number of benefits:
The system can now be accessed from anywhere without the need for any software installation. All that is required is a web browser and an internet connection.
And unique URLs for each customer are no more. Now users simply go to central.seequent.com and log in. Everything is made as easy as possible for customers — no long URLs to bookmark or remember, just the same sign-in process for everyone.
Monitoring and updating
Seequent engineers constantly monitor the hosting platform, ensuring it is operating correctly and deploying updates when required. Previously, functionality updates were less regular as they had to be tested within the application and then all installations needed to be updated. Now that everything runs in the cloud these can be rolled out every few weeks, meaning that customer requests for new features can be responded to much faster.
However big your team is and wherever individuals are located, Central helps streamline collaboration. Projects can be worked on and handed around the globe on a 24-hour cycle, with each user having a clear understanding of what has been changed, who has made the changes, and what needs to be done next. With everything stored in the cloud, you can be sure you always have the latest version.
Thanks to Microsoft Azure, resources can be easily and quickly scaled up or down as required. This also means the total cost of ownership is much lower as no infrastructure investment and maintenance is required. Cloud storage and computing power is simply purchased on an ongoing basis so there is no need for customers to host the software on hardware at their own premises.
Enhanced collaboration, inclusivity, and integration
Peter says the latest changes are focused on bringing teams closer together. “We want to make it easier for geoprofessionals, geotechnical engineers, and other partners and teams to easily understand the results of the model downstream. We needed to open Central up to a wider audience to better engage stakeholders so we wanted people without the desktop application to be able to see a 3D visualisation of a project.”
In science, everyone is an expert in their own field. Nobody can be an expert in every field. Complex software adds another layer which makes it difficult for users to contribute. By keeping it simple, Central allows all types of users to easily offer their expert insights without the need to master a software application.
Central now has better integration with Oasis montaj, Target, and GeoStudio, which helps keep stakeholders connected and leads to closer collaboration. And it’s not only Seequent tools that Central can integrate with.
IMDEX’s latest drill tools and downhole instruments are web-enabled, allowing them to stream live data as they’re drilling up to the IMDEX cloud database (IMDEXHUB-IQ™). Central has a direct integration with this database so that drilling progress can be shown in real time as long as there is an internet connection at the site. Having such immediate access to the data allows decision-makers to better understand and more efficiently interpret the drill hole.
Central will continue to develop as a key part of the Seequent ecosystem, connecting more data management products and applications.
Next on the roadmap is bringing all the other Seequent applications, such as PLAXIS, together. This closer integration will allow for better auditing and automation, reducing the chance of errors and streamlining the modelling process.
As well as more integrations, Central will take advantage of Seequent’s new Evo cloud services to enable API access. This will allow customers to get even more value from the product by accessing the data directly and building their own solutions and workflows for processes unique to their business.
There’s no doubt that companies working in the subsurface space need to not only embrace the latest technology now to maximise their efficiency but also plan ahead to ensure they can take advantage of future developments.
This is why Central will never stop evolving as Seequent understands how vital it is to customers’ success.