Leadership Award for Innovative Solutions

There is a catacomb of tunnels under the streets of downtown Houston TX, linking an underworld of passage-ways and doors and secured entrances and stairs and escalators and shops to the above-ground and its buildings, parking garages, and hotels. The first time I went to visit Anestacio Rios, there was a big storm brewing outside. So, when I inquired with hotel staff about directions to Anestacio’s building, they told me, “Just take the tunnels. It’s easy, and you’ll stay dry!”

Well, I did stay dry, but the route wasn’t easy!

Going there wasn’t too bad.  I checked my notes and asked other walkers at some intersections. It was coming back that was tough: not another walker in sight, just the echoes of my own steps. Following directions in reserve can be tricky. But I did find and meet with Anestacio!

Anestacio Rios is an IT Project Leader in Chevron’s Midcontinent Business Unit, serving in a key role within Business & Engineering Application Support. When I first met him, back on that day over 2 years ago, he had been a Composite customer for just a short time, and was on the front-end of a huge project at Chevron that could not be run like business as usual.

Faced with a complex migration from one well management system (the heartbeat of an oil and gas company) to another, the business needed the project to be successfully delivered sooner than plan, with low risk, and without doing a big bang across all field assets. There were hundreds of queries used by the business, but it would take too long to develop and manage all the interim re-writes and other replication tasks during the system migration.

Well, Anestacio and team were up to the challenge: using data virtualization, they delivered in eighteen months what would have taken thirty using traditional method and data integration tools such as ETL!

Word of the team’s innovative work and dramatic accomplishments using data virtualization spread, leading to Anestacio’s nomination for one of our annual Data Virtualization Awards.

Data Virtualization Leadership Awards

In my last blog entry, I talked about the Composite Data Virtualization Leadership Awards, which are announced annually in a ceremony at the annual Composite Data Virtualization Day event.

This year there were 4 awards:

  • High Impact Award: Recognizing the depth and breadth of the data virtualization impact on the business and to IT
  • Rethinking Data Management Award: Recognizing speed and flexibility in the  applying data virtualization for improved business agility
  • Innovative Solutions Award: Recognizing innovation in executing demanding data integration projects in complex environments
  • Data Virtualization Champion Award: Recognizing promotion of data virtualization’s value across their organization and in the broader business and IT community

Innovation the Data Virtualization Way

Merriam-Webster defines ‘Innovation’ as ‘the introduction of something new’. That seems so simple. Anyone can do it.  But when a firm has massive amounts of data—has been copying data for years—everyone just accepts this copying approach as the best way. If copying and replication processes take a long time to build, and a long time to run, and can’t be run on demand at any time, and cost a lot to maintain downstream, well that is just the price of data integration technology.It’s accepted.

Worse than this: traditional data integration methods, particularly when used in application migration, are intentionally designed in a one-off way, impeding later re-use. But in the Chevron case, the biggest problem was the time it would take to develop all the intermediate staging tables and replication jobs for the well system migration—work that would ultimately be discarded when the project was complete! Wasn’t there an innovative way to get to the result faster with less risk to the business, and such that the effort would not be wasted?

There was and Anestacio and team found it: data virtualization!

Now Data Integration Projects don’t have to be a Confusing Maze

Using data virtualization, a bridge was built for the migration transition. The solution made possible the strategy of “virtually” keeping all data in one place (logically), thereby minimizing the disruption of the migration, and increasing production optimization since users would benefit by seeing real-time analytics on which wells to target for improvement. Not only did an expected 30-month project get completed in 18 months – with resulting project cost avoidance – business productivity increased sooner than expected since key assets could be brought on-line, using new application capabilities and analytical insights in a way that was transparent to end users.

Through the innovative use of data virtualization and logical data abstraction to simplify the new systems’ complexity, a powerful way to ease the migration to the new system was successfully accomplished for the first time.

Back when I first met Anestactio, he had told me, “One of our key goals is to reduce data architecture work by 75%.”  Not unlike many firms, this part of any major data management initiative or improvement can be the constraint to the business getting what it needs from IT.

At the close of the project this goal had been met. During our post-project assessment, one of the key users of the new data foundation had said, “Once skilled in data virtualization, the time to value has been demonstrated to be 3-5X faster than legacy approaches, such as ETL.”

Like that maze of tunnels I had to traverse that day, traditional data integration projects can be challenging and the signs can be misleading. But if you know that the steps are shorter, you don’t have to go as far to get comforting feedback on your progress.

Anestacio (and Team): You Have our Respect!

I am happy to report that Anestacio was awarded the 2012 Innovative Solutions Award, announced in New York City on Oct 9!

Anestacio’s work has shown that there are better ways, and he did it where the stakes were high. The magnitude of the success was demonstrated by early results: the team reported that re-use of data assets was being sustained at 70%, based on examination of the first 8 applications that had been delivered on top of the new data foundation.

This is true innovation at work: introducing something new where the stakes are high and exceeding industry best practices. The Chevron team deserve a lot of respect.

Thank you Anestacio, for your leadership in Data Virtualization.  Congratulations to you, your colleagues, and Chevron Management for winning this year’s Innovative Solutions Award!

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