The Business Challenge
As a mining company, Consolidated Minerals’ (ConsMin) top priorities are
production and supply chain management, so keeping its enterprise resource
planning (ERP) operations running smoothly online is crucial. Data is time sensitive,
and any unavailability will slow down the processes.
At one point, it was in productive operation when mining operations were placed
into care and maintenance. This presented an opportunity to streamline the
administration and IT functions.
Erle Metcalf, Consolidated Minerals’ ICT Coordinator, explains that the office,
lights and previous IT building remained operational in anticipation of production
recommencing. When it did, there were some significant bills for software, license
and equipment renewals. This prompted a thorough systems audit, and among the
discoveries was a very expensive and cumbersome data availability solution.
If the system goes down, the process of recording ore as it is extracted slows,
according to Metcalf. “The block models don’t get transferred to our diggers in an
appropriate amount of time,” he says. “The impact is they have to go back to their
manual process, which means someone going out to the diggers every hour to make
a record, and re-enter it back into their system once it is back operational. It impacts
the time it takes to keep the ore moving.”
The other reason to look elsewhere for disaster recovery (DR) was that integration
with incoming systems was set to be a labyrinthine process with other providers.
“We recently put in a FlashStack (a converged infrastructure solution using Cisco
and Pure Storage), with everything due to move across to Microsoft Office 365, and
the legacy backup solution wasn’t capable of doing what we needed,” Metcalf says.
“We went to market with the specific requirement of Office 365 cloud presence and
backup, as a lot of people don’t think about backing their email up.”
The Veeam Solution
In face of the legacy availability solution’s shortfalls, Consolidated Minerals went
back to market to find something easier to maintain and manage, and that was
when Veeam came into the picture.
Veeam Availability Suite was deployed on its Cisco UCS C240 and it has bought
about a new paradigm of data availability to Metcalf and his team. Under the old
IT regime, ConsMin did not have accurate data coming in to the system, with
information about frontline operations often coming in manually and having to be
reconciled. Today, Veeam offers a complete view of ConMin’s data, and security that
the legacy system could not provide.
Any new solution adopted by Consolidated Minerals had to adhere to the three-core
values Metcalf says he maintains, not just with his IT team but in his career; namely
simplicity, scalability and least administrative effort. It was these benchmarks he
says the previous system did not meet because it was much more complicated than
it needed to be.
“We were looking for a system that could scale with our growth rapidly,” Metcalf
says. “One of the primary reasons we went with Veeam was because it was a lot
simpler than other vendors. For example, the back-up system is managed by my
team member, but just the other day I logged into the Veeam platform and restored
some old files from it by myself – it was that easy.”
Metcalf contrasts that to the previous system, where it could take one or two days’
worth of man-hours to sort backups out – whether it was making sure data was
transferred successfully to the data centre, changing backup tapes or guarding
against or fixing failures.
The move to Veeam has also resulted in considerable cost savings. For one thing,
ConsMin is no longer outlaying up to $300 per month on data tapes, to say nothing
of the expense and time involved in transporting and cycling them (which Metcalf
says represents the biggest cost saving).
Back payments on old maintenance and support tickets totalled more than the
outlay to deploy Veeam altogether, and the bill to renew the previous system was
around three times Veeam’s cost as well. What’s more, renewing the old system did
not include the provision for critical software integration Metcalf was looking for in
He says it has been painless, not only using Veeam, but moving to subsequent
builds and upgrades has also been fast and easy too as it does not interrupt the flow
of incoming data from mining operations.
Happily, there have been no data loss horror stories so far since using Veeam,
and Metcalf adds that his team has moved from a constant stance of care and
maintenance, to one of organisation and advancement.
Integration with other products and systems was a key driver for ConsMins’
selecting Veeam as its DR and data availability partner. One of their next projects is
to plan and deploy full featured cloud backup, and Office 365 integration was the
primary requirement. Metcalf says the entire restructure of the company’s data
availability profile was built around it.
So far, Metcalf says the whole experience of deploying and using Veeam boils down
to confidence. “I know I can have anyone go into the Veeam dashboard and recover
a file if they need to, all the way up to the server level. The time saved in not having
to manage and maintain back-ups manually has been massive.”
- Meets IT team’s requirement for data availability
Metcalf strives to achieve three goals in the company’s availability solution;
simplicity, scalability and minimal administrative effort, and he says Veeam
ticks every box, keeping data available to ensure minimal disruption to the ERP
- Time savings and peace of mind
Veeam now sends daily notifications on success or potential issues, giving the
IT team a peace of mind. It only takes one IT staff and a few hours each week to
check on the backups. The 80% of staff time spent on maintenance can now be
deployed to more strategic initiatives.
- Cost savings of 66%
On top of maintenance costs dating from old support tickets with the previous
provider, the renewal price of the prior solution amounted to AUD36,000. The
Veeam deployment cost less than a third as much.