Academic users at the Chinese University, such as those working in the fields of medical and scientific research, need faster provisioning of computer resources and more computing power. This called for the University's Information Technology Services Centre (ITSC) to streamline its data center management.
"Our users have high expectations of our data center infrastructure. They want faster and more flexible provisioning as well as lower cost," said CH Cheng, associate director (infrastructure) of Information Technology Services Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"It's very important to select a solution which can integrate all the main components including the network, the servers, the storage and the backup. Reliability, scalability, ease of automation and also tight integration were the main criteria when we selected the data center infrastructure platform," he added.
To effectively transform its IT infrastructure, ITSC decided to centralize and virtualize its computer network and computing resources.
With a view to build a private cloud platform, the University's ITSC created a virtual network system using Cisco's Data Center Business Advantage architecture, which comprises Cisco Nexus switches and the Cisco Unified Computing System.
Campus network and storage delivered as a service
Using Cisco's new Nexus switch architecture and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) technology, ITSC has reduced the number of Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches by up to 50 percent, saving up to 80 percent of the cabling and rack space required by a traditional data center.
By breaking down IT silos and creating a virtual network of computing resources, ITSC has spread its energy needs and cooling expenses throughout the data center, while expecting further reduction in its energy consumption and cooling costs.
Since the virtualized network and data center are made available to the whole university as a service, all departments and units are expected to control their annual operating costs easier.
Cloud services for school administration
To cope with the increasing demand for computing power, ITSC adopted Cisco Nexus' "wire once" approach and Cisco Unified Computing System service profiles to reduce the lead time for provisioning applications and services.
Computer resources allocation to applications is now supported by the University's private cloud platform, which runs on Cisco's Data Center Business Advantage architecture.
Cloud services that are already available include Web-based university administration applications and a document management system for administrative use.
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