Santos We have the energy

An Australian energy pioneer since 1954, Santos is one of the country’s leading oil and gas producers, supplying customers across Australia and Asia. With over 2,800 employees across its offices and field operations, Santos is headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia, with offices in Brisbane, Perth, Jakarta, Singapore, Port Moresby, Hanoi, New Delhi, Dhaka, and Bishkek. The largest supplier of natural gas to the domestic Australian market, the company reported sales revenue of $2.53 billion in 2011.

We’ve been burned in the past by opting for proprietary solutions only to have them rendered unviable through being acquired by a larger player with a different agenda. So for Santos, the move to open source — and to Red Hat — also provides us with a solid anchor. We can be assured that no one can breeze in and blow our solution away; open source is owned by the world and is not for sale. Introducing Red Hat has really provided us with a win-win situation.
– Andy Moore, IS Manager for Subsurface, Santos Limited

Business Challenge

Santos’ IT infrastructure was based on proprietary systems and distributed between data servers, application servers, and application workstations at several national sites.

However, the company reached its breaking point when it began juggling four very serious issues. First, over time, Santos’ environment became very complex to manage. Systems and users stretched across six national and international sites with discrete islands of storage, backup, and database infrastructure that needed nightly synchronisation to ensure everyone had the latest set of data — or at least yesterday’s set of data.

Second, Santos was faced with a data explosion. The nature of the geoscience business means that Santos’ IS department must handle very large seismic data sets that can be acquired at short notice. Put simply, the company needed a faster highway for data to reach users.

Third, and not unlike many Australian organisations, Santos was feeling the burden of licensing and maintenance costs associated with its proprietary thin client software. Cost pressure was being driven by the need to reduce operating costs for legacy reserves in order to add funding for additional development and growth.

Finally, Santos was suffering from support and reliability problems. In the process of deploying new data interpretation software, the distributed nature of the infrastructure led to multiple points of failure and administrative overheads.

Quick Facts

Oil and gas exploration and production, geoscience
Australia and Asia
Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 5.6, TurboVNC and VirtualGL, Paradigm


After looking at several proprietary thin client offerings, Santos found that none of them satisfied all of its technical requirements for the delivery of high- performance, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics across LAN & WAN connections. The company turned to the open source community for an answer and found it in the TurboVNC and VirtualGL open source projects. For the first time, Santos became a major sponsor of open source development and over a six-month period, members of its IS team worked with the developers to get the TurboVNC solution to rock-solid enterprise standards.

Testing the new open source thin client replacement revealed that the solution was out-performing Santos’ traditional 64-bit desktop workstations. Geoscientists were happy to run their Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based desktop via TurboVNC on their laptops and soon requested that their workstations be removed to give them more space. As more users came online, additional Red Hat servers were added to the TurboVNC/VirtualGL farm to handle the load.


The innovative solution was a refreshing change for Santos because it immediately delivered a faster, cheaper, and more stable platform.

The result of Santos’ migration to the new open source thin client was a much faster data path for all users due to the processing power living in the same room as the NFS storage. Data management was also massively simplified because all Australian users could use the same set of servers, applications, disks, and databases, with no need to synchronise data between national sites.

Santos believes its success largely came from the fact that it was prepared to look beyond Microsoft and the traditional software vendors within the industry, and had the vision to work with the open source community, which it believes has the potential to deliver extraordinary value to an organisation.