Golden Queen Mining is home to the historic Soledad Mountain Project, located just south of Mojave in Kern County, California. Its mission is to build a sustainable mining business while leading in safety, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility
- Improve IT efficiency, reliability, and automation as a means to increase the productivity of mining operations
- Minimize downtime, which can cost the business millions of dollars in lost revenue
- Support a range of specialized industry applications and off-the-shelf productivity software
- Leverage automation of measurement systems to achieve business and safety objectives
The Scale Computing Solution
- Scale Computing Platform can be deployed quickly and is easy to manage by even non-technical staff
- The integrated HyperCore Data Protection Suite provides native backup and disaster recovery capabilities, including replication, failover and failback, and flexible snapshot scheduling
- Seamlessly runs proprietary mining industry applications alongside traditional off-the-shelf software
- Self-healing, intelligent automation empowers a one-man IT shop to manage an entire infrastructure stack
- Modular cluster architecture provides instant scalability to meet growing IT demands
- Robust disaster recovery: Scheduled snapshots of server images are automatically backed up to the cloud to provide a highly resilient data backup strategy and can recover an entire virtual machine in just a few clicks
- Seamless redundancy: Automated failover of clusters ensures downtime is minimized as there is no single point of failure
- Virtualization made easy: Simple, fast, and cost-effective virtualized environments that can be set up in seconds compared with VMware
- Responsive customer support: Scale Computing’s award-winning customer support ensures that if an issue arises, an expert technician is just a phone call away
Scale Computing Platform is a rock solid solution. Simple installation, great scalability, and user-friendly centralized management. The infrastructure provided by Scale Computing has improved the efficiency of our business by enabling us to handle everything from a single location.— Jose Niada, IT Administrator, Golden Queen Mining
One of the last remaining gold mines in the state of California, Golden Queen Mining produces both gold and silver metals from Soledad Mountain. In order for the mine to meet aggressive revenue targets, it needed to quickly refresh its IT infrastructure to improve the quality and reliability of its IT service portfolio.
The Challenge: Modernize IT infrastructure to avoid costly downtime
Originally built in the early 1900s just outside the Mojave Desert, Golden Queen Mining harks back to one of the seminal moments in Western US history – the California Gold Rush, when tens of thousands of fortune seekers made the long journey out West to pan for gold, silver and other precious minerals.
As one of the last remaining gold and silver mines in California, Golden Queen Mining was shuttered shortly after World War II. However, as the price of these commodities began to climb, the mine was awarded operating permits and reopened in 2014. While modern mining production techniques are now mechanized and highly automated, the IT infrastructure that supported the Golden Queen operations and its 300 workers was anything but.
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. As Jose would come to learn, if one of those servers went down, the entire system would come crashing down.
As Jose explains, “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.”
The Solution: In search of an affordable ‘rock-solid’ solution
Scoping out a brand new infrastructure is a challenge in its own right, made all the more difficult
when you have to keep the existing one up and running – not to mention doing it as a ‘team of one.’ But for Jose, it presented a unique and exciting ‘blue sky’ opportunity to define and build out a brand new IT infrastructure.
As Jose recalls, “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.”
Jose also recognized that an integrated virtualization capability would be essential for meeting their advanced resiliency needs. Says Jose, “this way if one system failed, it would immediately failover to ensure that the entire system would remain online and our operations wouldn’t be impacted.”
The ability to run a variety of business and industry applications would also be a key criterion in its solution search. In addition to conventional communication and productivity applications such as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Dynamics, Golden Queen also needed a solution that could run a variety of mining-specific applications such as Wenco Mining Software that it relies on for dispatching trucks, GPS-enabled machine guidance, and advanced fleet management capabilities.
After researching existing HCI solutions, Jose and his managed services partner, Datalink Networks, narrowed their search down to two leading vendors: Scale Computing and Nutanix.
While he was already familiar with Nutanix, they indicated that the deal wasn’t large enough to work with Golden Mining’s consulting partner. Meanwhile, the sales team at Scale Computing had already set up a demo with Jose and his team, providing them with the detailed answers he needed to sign off on a purchase order, ultimately selecting a four-node cluster to run all of their front and back office systems as well as approximately 15 virtual machines.
The Benefits: Unearthing efficiency with automation
With their internal infrastructure experiencing regular and frustrating disruptions, Jose and his partner didn’t have the luxury of time. “Given the state of things at the time, it was very much an emergency situation. We had to deploy a new solution and do so quickly as practically every aspect of our business operations was suffering from frequent outages.”
Although he wasn’t initially familiar with the Scale Computing Platform, Jose and his consulting partner were able to stand up the new cluster in short order and found that getting all of the various business applications to run on top of Scale Computing HyperCore was very intuitive and straightforward. “It just works – I’ve had no issues or problems whatsoever running our applications, and that’s allowed me to focus my time on more strategic IT initiatives. It’s also saved us quite a bit of money as we are no longer as reliant on expensive, one-off consultant engagements.”
Whereas recovering from a system failure used to be a long and painful exercise in troubleshooting that would require 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. It’s really just that easy since the snapshot is isolated and not exposed to the network. This automated snapshotting has also dramatically improved the way that patching is applied and repairing all of the virtual machines in our environment.”
Jose also appreciates the built-in intelligence of Scale Computing Platform and how it provides him with the situational awareness he needs to anticipate potential issues. “The dashboard provides me with an at-a-glance view of all the relevant system information that’s happening at any time. Now I can see if a virtual machine is running low on hard drive space and can tune the settings without having to take the entire cluster down for maintenance.”
Beyond the technical capabilities, however, Jose has been most impressed by the speed and personal responsiveness of Scale Computing’s customer support team. “Fortunately, we haven’t encountered any serious issues so far. There was one time that a hard drive failed, but it immediately failed over so there was no disruption. I just called the Scale Computing support team and they shipped out a new drive overnight.”
Scale Computer’s customer support has been fantastic. They are always eager to answer calls or respond to emails and fix our issues in a timely fashion. People tell me, ‘I could buy VxRail and run VMs,’ and people don’t understand that it's more than buying hardware and running things on your own.— Jose Niada, IT Administrator, Golden Queen Mining