Shell CIO Jay Crotts banks on SAP HANA to always have the right information. This way, decisions can be made more easily.

Faster, smarter, more secure.

The largest SAP HANA installation operated by T-Systems weighs in at 48 terabytes, as its director Dr. Ferri Abolhassan enthuses. That figure is almost certainly a world record. The customer is Royal Dutch Shell, ranked the world’s fourth-largest corporation by Forbes, and the third-largest by Fortune 500.
Author: Horst Ellermann
Photos: H
enning Ross
T‑Systems-Geschäftsführer Ferri Abolhassan
T‑Systems director Ferri Abolhassan
The world’s energy corporations are facing extremel challenging market conditions. Oil prices are in freefall, the USA is making a strong comeback in the market, and competition is fierce. Against this background, productivity and agility are soaring high up the agenda for CIOs. Jay Crotts, appointed Shell CIO in June 2015, is pursuing this mission in two ways – with SAP HANA and SharePoint.
When it comes to HANA , Shell is a flagship customer for T-Systems – and for SAP. In 2014, the software vendor announced the launch of a ‘co-innovation’ project with Shell for wells, reservoir and facility management (WRFM). This entails engineers, geologists and data scientists collaborating to enhance the quality of information gained from the huge volume of data captured through drilling activities and other sources.
The result of their collaborative efforts is a solution that feeds bits and bytes from over 20 systems into HANA, including real-time sensor data and time series analyses from OSIsoft software. Crotts compares drilling for oil to performing surgery: “In both cases, there are a million ways to make things better – or worse.” SAP’s Business Objects Design Studio is designed to help SAP achieve the more positive of the two outcomes. Information on these millions of options is displayed on an HTML5 user interface in less than two seconds.
This is a major step forward in real-time analysis. As Crotts explains, “A huge amount of processing power is needed to handle multiple queries – and this is as true for water and gas as it is for oil.” And even after the oil has begun to flow, there is no letting up. For example, the large number of active sensors creates considerable CPU load. Nevertheless, according to SAP, data throughput has accelerated ten-fold since HANA was implemented for WRFM.
Jay Crotts, CIO Royal Dutch Shell
“Our IT team decided to introduce HANA to the treasury department first of all, offering entirely new possibilities to them.”
Jay Crotts, CIO Royal Dutch Shell

Treasury tasks and customer data

But do users actually stand to benefit? Crotts is upbeat: “Yes – decisions can be made more easily when you have the right information at the right time.” And when it comes to HANA and Shell, there are two clearly defined priorities: treasury activities and customer data. Shell’s treasury department has to weigh up the financial consequences of changes to interest and currency exchange rates. Crotts believes HANA offers a way forward: “Our IT team decided to introduce HANA to the treasury department first of all, offering entirely new possibilities to them. At that time, nobody was aware that HANA even existed.” And there are similar advantages with regard to the huge volume of customer data available. As Crotts is quick to emphasize: “Worldwide, Shell operates 43,000 gas stations. That gives us a lot of data on who buys what – but much of that information remains untapped.”
In both of these scenarios, speed is king. SAP has begun to explore the potential of super-fast data analysis – but when it comes to Shell’s treasury and customer data, the benefits are clear to see. Crotts puts it succinctly: “Speed is a benefit.” And as Ferri Abolhassan adds, “Overnight batch processing is no longer good enough. In high-frequency trading, a split second can make the difference between a profit and a loss.”
As evidence of the strengths of real-time data analysis, Abolhassan cites an example from the logistics industry. “Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) expects freight throughput to increase by 50 percent over the next ten years. But it is not possible to physically expand the port. There’s simply no space.” HPA has therefore trained its focus on streamlining its logistics processes – leveraging a solution that combines sensor technology with SAP HANA . As Abolhassan notes, “Productivity quickly rose by twelve percent. With this system, HPA gains visibility at the touch of a button. And its truck drivers can now make eight journeys a day, rather than seven.”
Crotts values T-Systems’ ability to draw on hands-on experience from across the business world. The Deutsche Telekom subsidiary is not just a cloud player offering SharePoint and SAP, as impressive as it credentials are in this space. For example, it delivers 713,000 SAPS to Shell from the cloud. The SAP Application Performance Standard is used to gauge the performance of SAP systems, independent of hardware (100 SAPS corresponds to 2,000 fully processed order line items per hour). Moreover, T-Systems is currently shifting 150 terabytes of business-critical legacy data to a SharePoint environment.

SharePoint – from the cloud

The scope of T-Systems’ partnership with Shell includes 45 SharePoint applications from a hybrid cloud. This combines 500 servers at T-Systems data centers in Houston, Munich, Amsterdam and Malaysia with on-premises SharePoint farms. To access data with ease and speed, SharePoint users leverage an integrated T-Systems search engine. Microsoft’s Office 365 public cloud is also part of the solution. In total, almost 143,000 users – including Shell’s 94,000 employees, plus suppliers and customers – work via the Shell cloud. Crotts knows, too, that T-Systems’ home country, Germany, is big on data security and data privacy. “This is an extremely important point for us,” he confirms. With this in mind, he is not overly concerned whether data resides at Shell or with an external provider. This is reflected in the recent decision to opt for E2open’s E2 Process Management SCM solution. Crotts believes that cloud computing is secure – if designed and implemented correctly. When discussing security issues, he repeatedly uses the expression ‘fit for purpose’. Crotts is one of the few CIOs willing to address the conflict of objectives that so many security players prefer to play down. “Security slows down innovation,” he admits. “But cyber attacks slow down innovation even more.”
Exploring the potential of customer data: Worldwide, Shell operates 43,000 gas stations, including 2,200 in Germany. As CIO Jay Crotts explains, “That gives us a lot of data on who buys what – but much of that information remains untapped.”

CSO reports to the CIO

There is no need to emphasize the fact that, as a major corporation, Shell is a regular target for e-criminals. Industrial spies are queuing up to locate and exploit weaknesses in the organization’s firewall. This is why the CSO reports to Crotts – and this is important to him. If thousands of unsuccessful login attempts are registered, only the IT department can say for certain whether this is a security issue or a technical capacity problem. Crotts and Abolhassan meet once every quarter to review the services that T-Systems has provided to Shell since 2008. The two parties renewed their contract in 2013. Crotts, who was previously responsible for IT infrastructure at Shell, admits that “our working relationship has certainly had its challenges.” Now, however, the two sides are on the same page. Almost all of T-Systems’ 200 customer KPI traffic lights glow in a satisfying shade of green. Crotts selects a maximum of five metrics for consideration at each meeting. But in his eyes, there is one KPI that stands out from all others: “We need good end-user satisfaction scores. We measure this on an ongoing basis, with a focus on middle management. In our experience, they often pay particularly close attention to these aspects.”

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