Anglo American


Precious Gems


Cloud Migration

Almost all internet enabled business have some sort of servers. These have historically been in data centers. The data centers may be owned by business or a shared data center. This paper discusses the cloud migration strategy employed for one of Thotnr’s client Anglo American. 

The discussion starts with an understanding of cloud migration practices and then discusses how specific practices were employed for Anglo American usecase.  

Of late more and more businesses are moving to cloud as traditional services such as SAP, Oracle are also providing cloud specific solutions.

Cloud provides reliability, scalability, elasticity, DR sites and other benefits that are not available in traditional data center solutions.

Cloud also brings cloud native technologies to the toolkit of the IT professional.

Migration to cloud can take many paths such as

  • Lift-and-shift (deployment of application as is to servers on cloud),
  • Cloud-enabled-servics (deployment to cloud where some of the services are abstracted to cloud PASS, such as deployment of application on a VM but using a database PASS)
  • Cloud-native (re – engineering application to use cloud native technologies such as Lambda or EKS) 
This paper discusses the cloud migration strategy employed for one of Thotnr’s client Anglo American. The discussion starts with an understanding of cloud migration practices and then discusses how specific practices were employed for Anglo American use case.

Migration to cloud must have clear goals and objectives to ensure the exercise provides viable business results that are measurable and can be tied to business gains. There must be an understanding of the challenges that come with cloud, the most prominent being security and training of personnel. Other areas of interest can be legal – are you allowed to keep your data in a public data center or can they live outside your geographical borders?

Availability of virtual machines and containers eases the migration to cloud but it is by no means a simple task. Cloud migration requires a high degree of planning, empowerment and alignment of leadership. Many processes, technologies and practices need to be reevaluated in light of the cloud and its provider.

One must ask if my business has run successfully on a data center for eons why do I need to move to the cloud. If you can answer this why you may consider moving to cloud.

The First order of business should identify a migration objective that could be improved scalability, cost, reliability, capacity improvements. Once the migration objective is established a Migration strategy is defined.

The strategy includes the Migration technique – lift and shift, cloud service or cloud native. It further includes identification of  people, vendors consultants and  understanding if existing application vendors have cloud solutions. It also includes understanding of which cloud vendor to use. Some esoteric cases might require a private cloud adoption.

Some Key areas to be aware of are

  • Cloud Migration is not easy or trivial
  • It may not lead to improved performance or scalability.
  • Cloud requires a different mind set, we must be sure if we are going to use cloud as a data center or will we be using cloud native technologies?
  • Cloud adoption should be a detailed exercise with enough planning and goal setting.
  • Cloud migration need not happen all at once, it can be a planned exercise taking time and moving as business units get ready.

A key customer of Thotnr Anglo-American had a large number of systems in data centers or local branch offices and were ready to migrate to cloud. The remainder of this study focuses on Anglo-American group.

The Anglo-American group is based out of South Africa and is into the mining business. They had a set of applications hosted on the mines and in their offices. Due to network connectivity, cloud based solutions were not a practical proposal for this group.

In early 2021, the organization had sorted out network connectivity problems and were ready to move to cloud. Thotnr consulting worked with the business to understand the key problems being faced by the group and identify the need for migration.

Anglo-American identified cost as the major reason to move to cloud not only were there benefits of cheaper infrastructure but also the benefit of having remote access by operations team who could now centrally manage the systems.

 The group had a number of applications mostly home grown, the IT staff was also not trained in using cloud and the applications had a lot of historic modifications. Thotnr recommended to go for a lift and shift solution for the applications while enabling some cloud services such cloud database, monitoring and alerts etc. These would have a minimal impact on applications and required little to no amount of training to system administration staff.

The entire customers data center was mapped out including machines, OS patch levels and internal IP addresses + DNS settings. The datacenter was provisioned using Terraform (Infrastructure as code) using a single script. Configuration was managed using Ansible to ensure applications and dependencies were correctly managed. This technique not only migrated the infrastructure but also built practices to replicate cloud as needed for other environments.

Anglo-American achieved:

  • Migrated scores of applications from the data center to cloud
  • Lowered TCO by 30%
  • Reduction in team size by 70%
  • Guided migration teams with pilot migration
  • Defined lift and shift roadmap
  • Defined Cloud migration guidelines
  • Defined Cloud native architecture guidelines for Anglo American groups based on their technology landscape.

The pilot systems were migrated and tested under a quarter with definition and roadmap towards other applications. The Customer now has a scaled team driving the roadmap for the next three years on migration of applications. The Thorn team is involved as a strategic partner helping in this most critical migration, providing architectural guidance.


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