We are no longer being hit by surprise costs and can plan ahead with the knowledge of development fees.
Jamie Anderson Operations Manager

MINEMAN serves mining companies worldwide with its MINEMAN integrated global solution for commodities management. Based in Australia, the business also has three global offices to support its international operations. The cloud-based solution offers marketing, accounting, and logistical support for selling and managing a wide range of metals. The platform also supports the purchase of products by smelters and traders. Today, MINEMAN software is used by mining companies in about 30 countries. In 2016, the business launched its MINEMAN Managed Services offering, enabling customers to outsource all back-office activities to MINEMAN.

MINEMAN software is a business-critical solution to help mining companies increase the efficiency of transactions worth millions of dollars. Customers face significant losses if the software is unavailable for even short periods of time. Jamie Anderson, operations manager at MINEMAN, says, “Because cash flow is key in the mining business, customers cannot afford for transactions to be delayed.” Historically, MINEMAN relied on third-party data centers in Australia and London to ensure the MINEMAN solution stayed highly available. However, the costs of running these data centers were high. “The contracts we had in place for the data centers were outdated and expensive compared with data center and cloud-service offerings in today’s market,” says Anderson.

The data center infrastructures were also inflexible. Making minor changes, such as adding disk capacity, was complex and time consuming. It was also difficult to budget accurately because data center costs were often unpredictable. Anderson felt the uncertainty reduced innovation because of the problems it created in determining development costs.

Compliance was another challenge for MINEMAN. The company’s two data centers didn’t offer the same compliance reports. This meant some customers couldn’t be located in a certain data center if that location didn’t offer the reports the customers needed. The disparity in reporting between data centers created an additional layer of management complexity for MINEMAN.

Finally, the company’s existing disaster-recovery capability needed improvements. A disaster-recovery strategy was in place, but it was untested, leaving Anderson concerned over its effectiveness. What’s more, the recovery time objective for bringing customer infrastructures back online was four hours, which Anderson knew had room for significant improvement. 

MINEMAN chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to replace its data center locations following an engagement with AWS Consulting Partner estrat. MINEMAN had previously worked with estrat on an email migration and sought the organization’s expertise in finding a cloud-services provider. Says Anderson, “We had a number of very insightful meetings with estrat architects who were expert in AWS environments, and estrat showed that AWS could meet both our current and future IT needs. They also delivered a successful proof-of-concept that showed AWS could help us deliver better services to customers and reduce our costs.”

In less than three months, MINEMAN completed the proof of concept and migrated its IT from the Australian data center to the AWS APAC Region. The MINEMAN customer environments running on AWS are using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) services. A typical Amazon VPC runs multiple instances of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Separate Amazon EC2 nodes also provide domain controller and database services. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is used as a repository for data backups and snapshots, and a Citrix Netscaler web application provides web gateway services. Administrative access to the environment is administered via AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Following the success of the migration to AWS, MINEMAN began working on migrating from its London-based data center to the AWS EMEA Region. The business created an environment made up of the same AWS services as its APAC infrastructure, and completed the migration in just three days using automation tools and templates.

With AWS, MINEMAN ensures its solution delivers the high availability and performance its customers need for their multimillion-dollar transactions to go through quickly and without fail. Crucially, MINEMAN is able to deliver the MINEMAN applications at a greatly reduced cost. “Since moving to AWS, MINEMAN has reduced its IT infrastructure costs by 60 percent,” says Anderson.

The outlay for each AWS environment is predictable and the architecture is flexible, helping the business encourage innovation. “We are no longer being hit by surprise costs and can plan ahead with the knowledge of development fees,” says Anderson. Administering the AWS infrastructure is much easier than the company’s previous data center environments. Day to day, estrat manages the AWS environments for MINEMAN, but Anderson and his colleagues sometimes work with the AWS infrastructure to support legacy MINEMAN applications. “I can spin up an AWS server for one of our consultants instantaneously. I can also manage access to the server and add disk space very quickly,” says Anderson. Since moving to AWS, Anderson estimates he saves up to 20 percent of his time and can focus on strategic development instead of IT management.

Concerns about compliance are now in the past. Because AWS infrastructures meet a range of standards, MINEMAN can guarantee compliance with reporting frameworks such as ISO27001, SOC 1, and ISO9001. This removes the complexity of having to locate customer environments based on compliance needs. Some clients run their MINEMAN applications in house on their own infrastructures. “These businesses are now looking at the cloud as a more cost-effective alternative, and removing concerns around compliance will reduce resistance to a cloud migration,” says Anderson.

MINEMAN has eliminated any uncertainty over its disaster-recovery capability and reduced recovery time in the event of an outage. The AWS environments offer backup, snapshotting, and testing facilities, so the business knows what to expect if an outage occurs. “The big advantage of our AWS disaster-recovery solution is that it is tried and tested. We have reduced our recovery time objective by 50 percent—from four hours to two—by working with AWS. It gives our business and customers great peace of mind.” 

estrat
  • A Standard Partner of the AWS Partner Network (APN). estrat is a leading global IT consultancy providing strategic advisory, delivery and operational management services.
  • For more information about how estrat can help your company build and manage your AWS environment, see estrat's listing in the AWS Partner Directory