The strategic direction of ICT at Gold Fields has always considered cloud services as a key element. The journey began in 2009 at which point Gold Fields was regarded as leading the curve, considering that the concept of cloud services was still relatively new. Whilst Gold Fields plunged head first into it, solid business principles were applied to ensure that cloud was not being adopted for the sake of it, but rather based on sound business requirements.
This saw us develop a strategy that took on the journey of moving towards the cloud from an infrastructure perspective. We looked towards adopting infrastructure as a service, consolidating our infrastructure, going the virtualisation route, and then naturally migrating into the cloud. This resulted in us achieving a 42 percent cost saving just from infrastructure which allowed us to generate support for our cloud business case and the early success showed the benefit of a cloud strategy. The key parts of the strategy we focussed on were performance, availability, utilisation, security, and improved governance.
In our cloud journey, we discovered early on, many concepts that are just recently referred to as cloud orchestration. Our strategy was based on sound fundamentals and because we got our fundamentals right and because of the early success we demonstrated, the organisation has been able to evolve as technology has changed. There are two examples of being ready for this change.
Firstly, we purchased a cloud procurement service that would be able to fit into our value chain and our enterprise applications within our private cloud. We then started to address all the challenges that come from integration which included ensuring that the value chain would provide an upstream procurement service with a downstream private cloud service within the network. We also looked to address the challenge of security to make sure that the right data with the right protection would be passed back into the procurement value chain. The result – we now have the benefit of a seamless procurement service.
The other example is when we evaluated moving to Microsoft Office 365 for the mining operations. Gold Fields went through a proof of concept but found that the integration between its authentication system and the private cloud would not make business sense for various reasons. We then took this Office 365 cloud concept and assessed its suitability for application in other Gold Fields environments. We found that considering the global and diverse nature of our Exploration business, moving to Office 365 made perfect sense. The benefits we see is that the exploration business are able to pull their information into the public cloud much more easily.
Our experience also suggests that the cloud journey should be adopted in achievable chunks. This ensures that success is demonstrated early on to bring even the naysayers on board. And as the services offered on the cloud evolved, so too did the governance framework that we had in place. We had to keep abreast of latest trends and developments in order to ensure that they are not found wanting in any of the governance, risks, compliance, and security areas.
Everything in the cloud needs to come together with enterprise systems. Think of it as a symphony of security, governance, systems, and stakeholder management moving together in unison. For cloud orchestration to really provide value, we needed to have a strategy and a vision in place that was built on a good foundation.
If things are done properly at the planning phase, many of the challenges can be anticipated and the risks mitigated when it comes to the cloud implementation. We are now looking forward to the blurred boundaries of digitisation and big data. This will put our cloud strategy to the test.