Located in far north South Australia, the Challenger Gold Mine, has seen its share of server issues before Calvert Technologies brought them up to date with a new Hyper-V Windows Server 2012.
Calvert had been managing the company’s network since 2007 and conducted an upgrade in 2009.
“The equipment we put in 2009 was starting to get old, tired and in need of replacement. It was the ongoing system failures that really brought it to a head,” Calvert said.
The mine uses HP server equipment, but there was minimal use of virtualisation and their main server was based on Windows 2008, Calvert said.
The mine, owned by Kingsgate Consolidated, employs about 110 staff and has employees in Sydney that would remotely access the mine, which was causing increased strain on its environment.
On top of this, storage capacity was becoming an ongoing issue and the RAID controller had suffered a fault, which became unreliable.
“That one box was the main server, file server, exchange server - everything was relying on it,” Calvert said.
Whenever backups were running, the server would fault and lock up.
“The mine operates 24/7 and I would be working on the server from 11pm to 1am, and it was getting more difficult to resurrect it,” Calvert said.
Challenger Mine’s administration supervisor, Robyn Greening, said Calvert was worried that if the server did go down, it may not be able to be restored again, impacting the Mine’s business.
The server held onto many of the Mine’s important documents such as the day’s mining plan to safety documents. It was imperative that the server remained online and any downtime meant huge losses to the bottom line.
But upgrading the server was a big investment.
“This was a fairly substantial investment in an environment where gold prices had dropped and it had to be fully justified to do this,” Calvert said.
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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 server easily to enable some servers to be restarted or managed without affecting other parts of the business.
Since the migration, the Mine has experienced 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.
It can now run applications without interruption such as Surpac Mining Software, PMXpert, Landmark Accounting Package, Leapfrog, Medical Director and 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. Employees can also send and receive information from anywhere at any time.
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The new server environment can also support future expansion.
“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,” Greening 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.”