“I am almost starting to live every day in fear of not being able to resurrect it.”
These were the panicked words of Dean Calvert who manages IT for Challenger Gold Mine, a remote mine in South Australia, owned by Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. He was talking about the mine’s server which he had been forced, yet again, to fix in the middle night. It proved to be the final straw that pushed Challenger into migrating from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012.
Challenger is a gold mine in the far north of South Australia, 740km north-west of Adelaide. Its 110 staff members work in a very isolated environment where communication can be difficult at the best of times, let alone with a server consistently falling offline.
With staff numbers growing and accessing remotely from the office in Sydney as well as on site, the server was undergoing increasing strain. Storage capacity had become an ongoing issue, with the drive bays fully utilised and disk space a problem, with old or unnecessary files needing to be archived or removed. To add to the problems, the RAID (redundant array of independent disks) controller had suffered a fault which made it unreliable.
For everyday purposes the server was just about managing the load, but whenever backups were running the server would lock-up, become non-responsive, and the IT team at Calvert Technologies would have to initiate recovery operations to get the server to restart.
It was at this point that Dean Calvert’s evenings became overtaken by the server. He was constantly being kept up at night worrying that if the server went down the mine wouldn’t be able to function the next day.
It is imperative that the server is online for the mine to be working, with any downtime for the mine meaning huge losses to the bottom line
The server holds the key to many important documents, from the day’s mining plan, which tells miners where they should be, to important safety documents that ensure all checks and processes have been done. It is imperative that the server is online for the mine to be working, with any downtime for the mine meaning huge losses to the bottom line.
Robyn Greening, Challenger Mine’s Administration Supervisor, said the faulty server had started to take over Dean’s life. “Dean felt he couldn’t take his eye off the server for an evening. He would constantly receive error messages through to his phone, keeping him up throughout the night. The worry was, if it did go down, we might not ever be able to get it back up and running again. If that did happen, the mine would be down and all of its data would be lost.”
In June 2014, Dean sent his late night email. The response from Challenger was to start migration to a more up-to-date server.
The mine operates around the clock, so a robust core server was required
The key goals were reliability and capacity for future expansion. The mine operates around the clock, so a robust core server was required that would provide the latest in security, performance and manageability.
Windows Server 2012, together with Hyper-V virtualisation, provided all the key performance and management requirements, while the use of the DataCentre license edition meant
Challenger was able to compartmentalise the core more easily to enable some servers to be restarted or managed without affecting other parts of the business.
The migration was virtually seamless.
“The migration itself was quick and painless,” Robyn said. “Dean flew in on the Tuesday, made sure everyone had left the mine by 6pm on Wednesday evening, and when we returned to the mine the next day the new server was up and running. He spent a day troubleshooting for our unique applications and then by the Friday was heading back home.”
The benefits of the migration have been increased efficiency and productivity, with the system now being able to handle the massive memory loads needed
The benefits of the migration have been increased efficiency and productivity, with the system now being able to handle the massive memory loads needed for running and supporting mining and surveying programs. The updated server is now able to run, without interruption, applications that help the mine run smoothly such as: Surpac Mining Software, PMXpert, Landmark Accounting Package, Leapfrog, Medical Director, Cardax Security Program.
Payroll, which is run from the Sydney office, is also now conducted through the new server, with the accounting team being able to run pay programs without disturbing other users or programs. And employees can send and receive information from anywhere at any time.
“The server migration has made everyone’s lives a lot easier. From a personal perspective I don’t have colleagues constantly coming to me with IT issues anymore which means I can concentrate on other parts of my job, and for Dean it has certainly made his quality of life a lot better,” Robyn said.
“The viability of gold mining is highly dependent on the world price and on the cost of extraction. We can’t control the price but by making our systems as efficient as possible we can control our costs. The change to Windows 2012 Server has made a huge difference in that regard,” she said.