Thiess data consolidation project passes half way mark

Boosts remote access and network performance

Australian mining, construction and services contractor Thiess has announced it is more than half way through an IT consolidation process that will see it centralise data from some 200 operational sites into a single datacentre location.

The project, implemented with Dimension Data, is aimed at creating "one source of the truth" for Thiess’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other business-critical applications.

As part of the project, Citrix is being used to enable delivery of around 36 key applications and web services directly from the datacentre.

Traffic shaping technology from Packeteer (since acquired by BlueCoat in June 2008) is also being used to gain greater performance and consistency of service across its local and wide area networks.

The consolidation of file servers, applications and data is being married with a boost in remote access capabilities through a roll-out of more than 3500 remote access clients, also supplied by Blue Coat, to its company-wide fleet of notebooks and remote access workstations.

Richard Moran, head of infrastructure at Thiess, said given highly distributed nature of the company’s business, data and application centralisation was required to cut costs and increase efficiencies.

“Some of our projects may only run for six weeks, so by the time you procure or repurpose hardware, configure and set up, the project may be over,” he said.

“We gain economies as we don’t have to put file servers on sites where there may only be two or three staff. We can also make sure all our data is stored appropriately, backed up and we can recovery it.”

Having centralised data and applications linked with the ability to prioritise applications and traffic was proving to be essential, particularly for highly remote projects, Moran said.

“In one instance we had 50 people on a 512k satellite link as there was no additional capacity or options available,” he said.

“They were not able to surf the Web at that site as we just couldn’t afford it. In those instances we can prioritise the ERP system and estimating tools over Web traffic as bandwidth is so precious.”

With improved remote access capabilities, and one consistent view of data across all locations, Thiess started reducing costs through cutting data administration staff on project sites and cutting down on travel, accommodation and allowances, Moran said.

“People used to have to physically go to the location of data if they wanted access to the raw data behind a report, for example. That process may have taken two days worth of traveling,” he said.

“We used to have some really broken business processes but that has stopped because we can now also control whether staff are allowed to map drives across the network."

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