SAN helps chemical firm keep oil wells pumping

Everyone knows you can't do a good frac job without slurry.

And nobody knows this better than Steve Collins, manager of IT services at Benchmark Energy Products LP, a supplier of chemicals to the oil industry.

It's his job to give Benchmark workers and clients the computer resources needed to make sure that the slurry -- a gel that turns into an oatmeal-like sludge -- is available for 'frac jobs,' where the gel is pumped into an oil well under high pressure to fracture the ground so oil will flow better.

To improve its disaster recovery and backup capabilities, Benchmark installed a US$60,000 storage-area network (SAN) from EqualLogic Inc. in Nashua, N.H., about a year ago. The SAN replicates Benchmark's Biz'Net accounting software and Microsoft Exchange e-mail data.

Collins said the accounting system gets replicated every night from Benchmark Energy's Houston headquarters to its largest facility, in Midland, Texas, over the SAN's 3Mbit/sec. point-to-point connection.

The SAN provides 3TB of storage and supports 130 people across three sites. 'The SAN has given me better control of our volumes and data,' Collins said.