Virtualization Boost to Mining InnovationWed, 10/21/2015 - 13:32
It has become somewhat cliché to say that technology has changed the world, but for Reynaldo Valenzuela, Director General of Sertei, that past tense is superfluous. He sees that technologies like cloud computing and virtualization are still changing the world, including the ways that business is done in sectors like mining. While the well-known cloud computing gives companies the ability to access their data from remote locations, the less famed virtualization can safely backup information without the hassle of owning and maintaining large quantities of servers. Sertei has harnessed such technologies to become a key IT solutions provider for the mining industry. The company has already secured projects to help mine operators such as Goldcorp, Capstone Mining, AuRico Gold, and Alamos Gold, allowing it to grow substantially since its founding in 2004. “By understanding the specific needs and problems of our mining customers, then meeting and exceeding those needs, we have grown into a key provider in the IT market,” claims Valenzuela. One example of the company’s “above and beyond” approach to its services was when it helped Capstone Mining with the virtualization of the servers at the Cozamin mine in Zacatecas. It has also been working with Goldcorp since 2004, providing the company with security solutions, high availability services, and updates for its older technology. “Virtualization allows companies to use one device for a number of services. This happens by replacing physical servers with software, which can then be copied and used on one server instead of ten,” Valenzuela explains. “Additionally, cloud computing technology eliminates the need to buy servers as it makes use of existing servers owned by companies around the world.” To service the major mining players, the company works only with the most well-established IT brands such as Microsoft, IBM, HP, and VMware.
IT solutions are not only helping mining companies reduce their hardware and energy costs but, more importantly, they are making information available at all times. “The main information requirement of the mining industry is availability,” Valenzuela exclaims. “Clients in the mining industry operate in isolated areas such as the mountains of Chihuahua, Durango, or Zacatecas, so they need IT services that run continuously, making their information available anytime and anywhere.” Sertei’s solutions also lessen the risk of theft and loss of information. Through the use of cloud computing, a company entrusts its information to Microsoft or IBM in the same way it would entrust a bank with its money. “Information can be stolen from your office very easily, but it is difficult to steal information from IBM or Microsoft,” he claims. “The weakest link in the chain for this technology is the user.”
Despite the benefits of these solutions, Sertei is still challenged by the lack of reliable energy supplies in the remote mining regions. “Electronic devices are very sensitive to changes in the supply of electricity, which in turn affects the availability of the services we provide. In order to overcome this, we provide technology that can work despite interruptions in electricity or communication signal,” explains Valenzuela. Solutions such as IBM’s BladeCenter are able to withstand earthquakes, dust, and high temperature. Nonetheless, energy output is still a major limitation for these solutions in areas with no access to the electricity grid. Another challenge for the use of these technologies is the lower profit margins that come with the reduced sale of equipment. To compensate for this, Sertei offers a variety of services in order to ensure that mining companies make the most out of the technologies it has on offer. “Our training services make it easy for people to use our technology. Once they get the knowhow from us, they can operate everything perfectly, and even access their data from their smartphones,” says Valenzuela.
Sertei plans to keep growing by 40% annually, as it has in recent years. It will also be expanding its reach to Torreon and consolidating its branch in Ciudad Juarez. Valenzuela believes that as mining companies feel the pressure to be environmentally friendly and reduce operating costs, the implementation of new IT technologies will provide an alternative growth track in this typically slow-moving industry. “We understand that long-term and short-term goals start on the same day,” Valenzuela states. In this way, Sertei and the mining industry should find themselves on the same track towards a more efficient future