In 1848, a carpenter named James Marshall spotted flakes of gold in a streambed in Coloma, California, and in the process, set off the Gold Rush which saw hundreds of thousands of fortune seekers make the arduous journey out West in search of wealth and prosperity.
While few prospectors actually struck it rich, their collective resilience remains an enduring legacy of their efforts. A century and a half later, mining has returned to the Golden State — and the weight of resilience continues to resonate with a new generation of 49ers.
As one of the last remaining gold and silver mines in California, Golden Queen Mining, which had been shut down for over 60 years, was awarded operating permits and reopened in 2014 as the price of gold and silver made the prospect of mining viable once again. However, while modern mining production techniques are now mechanized and highly automated, the IT infrastructure that supported the Golden Queen operations and its 300 workers seemed like a relic from the distant past.
In 2018, Golden Queen Mining hired Jose Niada as its IT Administrator and tasked him with an immediate mandate to improve the reliability and performance of its underlying infrastructure, which at that point consisted of four Dell servers and multiple individual points of failure. Jose would soon come to learn that if just one of those servers went offline, it would bring the entire system crashing down with it.
Jose recalls, “network downtime wasn’t just an annoying inconvenience to the front office; it had an immediate and material impact on our mining output. For instance, when the Microsoft Exchange Server would unexpectedly go down, it would often have a ripple effect across the entire company’s operations. Without access to the file servers or the network, our engineers are unable to direct the miners to the right pit coordinates. Our dispatch systems, which orchestrate our fleet of heavy equipment and trucks, have to sit idle. If these systems are down for even just a couple of hours, we’re potentially losing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.”
Jose understood that in order to ensure the performance and reliability of their barebones IT operations, a new approach to their infrastructure would be required – one that would be able to run off-the-shelf software alongside all of their mining-specific applications and be able to withstand disruptions. “I had read about the maturing hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and thought that it would be an ideal solution given its relatively small physical footprint and the fully integrated nature of having network, storage, and compute housed in a single device would be far easier to manage than a room full of servers.”
Since overhauling their infrastructure with SC//Platform, Jose has found himself spending less time constantly putting out fires and is now able to focus on strategic IT initiatives. And while recovering from a system failure used to be a long and painful exercise in troubleshooting, previously requiring a methodical rebuilding of all the virtual machines, Jose now has confidence that in the event of a disruption he could quickly roll back the system to the last known good state. “Now we can recover in seconds; the snapshot strategy allows you to recover an entire virtual machine in just a few clicks.”
Read the full case study to learn more about how Golden Queen Mining has modernized its IT infrastructure with Scale Computing.