Secure and reliable data communications are essential when you have the world’s largest fleet of vessels for transporting liquid natural gas.
Qatar Gas Transport Company Ltd., known as Nakilat, which is Arabic for “carrier,” has 63 liquid natural gas ships and four liquid petroleum gas ships that operate as a “floating pipeline” carrying Qatari gas around the world. The fleet represents 15 per cent of total world carrying capacity.
To support this, Nakilat has a complex network of wholly owned and joint-venture operations in ship repair, construction, shipping agencies, warehousing, and other maritime support services.
Nakilat recently consolidated its IT operations into a single organisation. As CIO Hamad Suwaid explains, “The biggest challenge was bringing everyone together and enabling secure access to information from anywhere in the world.”
After evaluating numerous vendors, Nakilat decided that Fujitsu demonstrated the best technology, expertise and cost-effectiveness. Together with Fujitsu, the firm rolled out SAP HANA® using Citrix and Microsoft Azure with the Fujitsu Integrated System PRIMEFLEX® platform, combined with Fujitsu FlexFrame Orchestrator for SAP, as the basis for a highly efficient cloud solution.
Citrix and Azure provide secure access to hybrid cloud and on-premises resources
The centralised IT operation serves a complex mix of recently acquired businesses and joint-venture operations. Because of this, it uses a hybrid IT environment that combines Microsoft Azure cloud resources with its own on-premises data centre. Citrix NetScaler provides secure access to Nakilat’s on-premises resources, including Microsoft SharePoint and SAP. Hamad explains, “All of our internal application publishing uses NetScaler, and it also provides load-balancing across our services.”
Nakilat uses Citrix XenApp to virtualise its core business applications so that remote and joint-venture users have access to Nakilat information and resources. NetScaler interoperates seamlessly with Azure ID Management to ensure security for all users.
Effective and secure sharing of apps and information with third-party, joint-venture partners
Nakilat now saves time and money by sharing access to information and applications with users from partner organisations.
For example, Nakilat holds millions of dollars’ worth of spare parts for its ships. By using Citrix to securely share its inventory—kept on SAP—with its shipping joint-venture partners, Nakilat can supply any required parts to ships when they dock to take on their cargo of gas. With a cross-fleet view of requirements and inventory, Nakilat avoids over-stocking expensive parts. By making the ordering, delivery and fitting of spares more streamlined, the firm also reduces the time ships must spend in harbour. Idle time, along with associated berthing fees, is a major expense for shipping lines and minimising this is an important saving for Nakilat.
Remote access to core applications for international offices and mobile users
Nakilat employees can also easily access applications and information from international offices or from mobile devices. In both cases, NetScaler provides secure access controlled by Hamad’s team at a granular, user-role level.
“Our users love it,” Hamad says. “Whatever device they are using, they get the same familiar interface. Access to anything we publish from our data centre is secured by NetScaler, and any cloud resources are secured by NetScaler working with Azure ID Management.”
Cost-effective and reliable access over satellite links for vessels at sea
The same technology is extending IT access to the crews on Nakilat’s vessels.
“Low bandwidth is always a problem at sea,” Hamad explains, “and the cost of data transmission using the VSAT satellite link is very high.”
However, Nakilat is working with Citrix to provide a virtual desktop with the online/offline capability required to manage the frequent dead zones that ships encounter.
As Nakilat’s operations continue to expand, Hamad sees the role of Citrix as a strategic partner continuing to expand.
“Our cloud supplier will be Azure, our transactions will be with SAP and Citrix will provide secure virtualisation,” he says. “Together, they will provide the strongest backbone for Nakilat. We have many more joint ventures coming along, many with major energy companies, and we see Citrix becoming more important to us. We will continue with a hybrid cloud and on-premises model, and for us, Citrix is the right choice.”
The benefit of Citrix and Fujitsu working together
Combining Citrix and Fujitsu expertise has helped streamline IT operations for Hamad’s team. He explains, "Fujitsu has reduced the resources required to run our business, which has led in turn to dramatic cost savings. We have halved our annual IT investment and when you add in the decreased manpower required to manage the SAP environment, further savings are made."