Meet our customer hero
Integrating the spiders’ web with a hybrid multi-cloud solution
This customer, a leading global mining company, has operations, subsidiaries, and business units all over the world. By 2010 most of those entities had created their own autonomous Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. The company could see the potential of bringing all this data together, but it realized it had a problem: with 24 separate legacy systems and architectures, just locating relevant data—let alone making use of it—would be as difficult as finding a diamond in a coalmine.
“Every ERP back then was on-premises and self-managed in three locations on different continents, with smaller satellite data centers located close to our operations,” explains the company’s Enterprise Application Delivery Manager. “Those sites are often quite remote and so susceptible to network outages which, without the security of the cloud, meant lost data.”
With what the company describes as a “spider’s web” of different legacy systems containing the data it uses for exchange between its finance, HR, procurement, supply chain and logistics departments, our customer’s first attempt at integration didn’t go well. Some products in the fragmented IT landscape acted unpredictably, transacting as they were supposed to but also leaking data to other systems.
“We couldn’t decouple these rogue products because they were business critical, but we needed a solution. We decided the only answer was a platform-agnostic, service-oriented middleware. It would prevent some products being dominant by making them all equal.”
The mining company turned to Software AG’s webMethods Integration Platform, which is easily scalable and ready to integrate on-premises applications to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. And because such a shift can’t happen overnight, it is also capable of managing a hybrid integration model where data and processes exist on premises, in private and public clouds… and anywhere in between.
“Persuading all our different subsidiaries and mine sites to get onboard with transformation—not to mention managing all those licenses around the world—was challenging to say the least,” says the Enterprise Application Delivery Manager. “Software AG came through with intelligent, flexible subscriptions so it was easy for different sites to pay according to their actual data volumes. This was transparent and easy to scale up or down.
Internally, a major benefit has been time to value without disruption to business continuity: One strategic objective for the company was to streamline more than 24 ERPs into just a handful—indeed this had been one of the decisions taken back at the beginning of the project back in 2010. The project to achieve this objective was launched business unit by business unit, country by country. “We soon realized choosing webMethods had paid off. Instead of having to deal with all those different architectures and platforms, we just had one process to follow for almost every merge.”
“When we got to our most complex system—the platinum mining division—we had a lot of tech issues to solve, but integration wasn’t one. Everything was running on webMethods, so it was as easy as flicking a switch. In fact, the only real problems we encountered were when people weren’t using webMethods and we couldn’t just lift and shift. Each of those integrations took about a week of specialist work to fix. If every one of our 800 merges had been like that, we’d still be doing it now. I reckon we’ve saved at least six months of additional specialist work and all the expense that would have entailed.”
The business benefits have also rolled in fast: The company has started benchmarking equipment utilization across all their mines, identifying best performers, isolating best practices, and targeting improvements across the board. It has also implemented centralized procurement, giving it more leverage with suppliers as well as improving oversight and control.
The organization has also started making its data more accessible to everyone across the business. “The way we worked was very different in 2011,” says the Enterprise Application Delivery Manager. “Back then we weren’t even using mobile data—a planner would literally collate the information people needed, print it out and give it to them to take to their workplaces. Now we use webMethods to render ERP data straight to and from people’s devices. People are out there in the operations capturing data, work instructions and more. This makes mining safer—and it gives us rich metrics which have allowed us to be more proactive about maintenance as faults are reported and actioned much faster.
By offering our people in the field real-time data available through mobile, rather than literally having to print information on paper for them in advance, we’ve made ourselves more productive, more compliant, and more competitive. We can see all our transactions and other activities in real time, through a single dashboard, which makes it simple to monitor compliance, manages SLAs and mitigate risk.”
Like many businesses, the customer is looking to modernize by taking an API-first approach to services and building company APIs to facilitate data exchange and move data from its own data centers into cloud-based Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. This process is already halfway complete, and the company is aiming to be 100% cloud-based by 2024.
“webMethods just adapts to every new change—the cloud, APIs, SaaS, scalability, security and more— without us having to reinvent the wheel every time with constant rewrites. We can expose data simply and share public cloud environments securely, and Software AG’s technology is both cloud agnostic and hyper scaler ready. That makes it great with our strategic cloud platform Azure.”
The company has so far moved about half its applications into the cloud and is looking to complete the process in the next year or so. The fully SaaS-based environment will be transformative, with richer application experiences for everyone.
“Our new integration platform allows us to be agile and stay ahead of the trends—I’m confident it will stay that way. And that’s good enough for me!”