With a commitment to turning natural resources into energy for people and progress for society, Equinor is helping shape the future of energy for the better. Part of achieving this goal is a B2B infrastructure that supports these efforts.
In a recent webinar, I had a chance to sit down with Roy Moen Halvorsen, Systems Responsible B2Bi at Equinor, to talk about their use of a multi-cluster environment and Axway’s B2B Integration platform to support reliable B2B data exchange. Here are some of the key takeaways from that conversation.
Where B2B Integration fits into the Equinor business model
At Equinor, the marketing, midstream, and processing department, which includes about 3,600 employees, uses Axway B2Bi. This business area focuses on getting the most value from all marketed and traded products. This list includes natural gas, crude oil, and liquids.
For modern applications, Equinor uses B2Bi for field lifting, gas transport, and gas trading in Europe. The business leverages the Edig@s format alongside AS4 protocols to support secure B2B data exchange. B2B integration harmonizes message formats and communication protocols. That way, Equinor can connect any business application to its business trading partners.
Why the shift toward a multi-cluster cloud solution?
Equinor’s gas dispatching alone sends and receives 2,500 to 3,500 B2B messages daily. That number is increasing by the week, with the contents of the B2B data exchange only becoming more important.
If B2B messages aren’t efficiently exchanged between business trading partners, it can be a rather expensive hiccup for Equinor.
“To be out of balance in a market area, setting too little or too much gas into a balancing area, is very costly,” Halvorsen noted. “For that reason, we need a message broker that is up and running 99.9% of the time.”
High availability is critical to the gas side of the business. Yet a robust B2B messaging solution is even more critical for energy applications. If messages aren’t received, field production can stop, causing a loss of output and profit.
Due to an increasing volume and importance of messages, Equinor migrated on-site resources to a multi-cluster cloud solution. That way, they could have high availability without downtime to support industry needs.
A glimpse into Equinor’s multi-cluster infrastructure
The multi-cluster infrastructure Equinor developed was in Microsoft Azure. It consists of three availability zones in different locations within a region. That way, if one zone went down, there are still two in operation and messages will continue to come through the pipeline.
The multiprocessing and configuration clusters consist of many nodes scattered across the availability zones. Each node features its own file share and database — again ensuring that if a zone goes down, there are other resources in place to compensate.
All the clusters link together through synching agents and the Apache Ignite cluster.
What if all three availability zones go down?
In that case, there’s the option for disaster recovery. Equinor has set up an environment in a sister region, and all they have to do is import the configuration to be up and running again.
This overview provides a look into Equinor’s B2Bi infrastructure as it stands today. The goal for the future is to get rid of the on-premises infrastructure and bring new technologies into the fold.
Axway’s support in the multi-cluster transition
Equinor’s migration project started in September 2020 and went live in February 2022. At Axway, we’ve been there every step of the way to offer support and provide solutions post-launch.
For example, three processing clusters meant tracking B2B messages in three different places. Axway is working on a one-message tracking solution that would allow Equinor to see all their messages in one place. This makes it easier to track down missing items.
Another issue was that the Apache Ignite setup was not well documented in the multi-cluster documentation. We helped Equinor play detective and connect the dots on how to set up and tune everything so they could fill in these documentation gaps.
“We got there, in the end, thanks to Axway’s support, which was very helpful during the whole process, from the beginning to the end, and also after we went live,” Halvorsen concludes.