University Campus Suffolk (UCS) has begun a project to replace its legacy HP servers with Fujitsu's vShape virtualised infrastructure, allowing it to increase compute capacity in a smaller data centre space.
IT staff at the university, launched in 2007, provide the 8,500 students and staff across six sites in Suffolk with a range of services including finance, HR, virtual learning systems and a student information system from Tribal.
The institution has so far relied on its 96 HP blade and rack mount servers running Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 to deliver services, as well as 96TB of DX80 Eternus storage from Fujitsu, following the replacement of its IBM SAN two years ago.
However UCS decided to replace its ageing server infrastructure as it began to encounter problems in meeting demand for server capacity, after it moved to new premises in 2012. With only one third of the space in its new data centre building, there is little room for server expansion to meet demands on its ageing systems, making it difficult to roll out new applications, or meet demands for new research projects.
In addition to this IT staff have been faced with difficulties in maintenance, with considerable amounts of down time when applying updates to the servers.
UCS director of IT services, Peter O'Rourke, said that a decision was made to move to a fully virtualised environment as the time approached to refresh its servers.
"There were a number of factors behind the decision. Obviously age because the servers are now getting beyond what we would regards as their potentially useful working life, and you start running into maintenance and operational issues," said O'Rourke. "But we also knew that we wanted to virtualise because we wanted to reclaim space so that we could grow inside the new data centre."
He added: "We knew that the existing infrastructure had performance issues - so do you chuck more tin at it, or do you virtualise so that you can improve the performance that way? We knew that we have got to migrate that system whatever we do."
A previous attempt to introduce VMware virtualisation to its systems had been made on a small scale, but ran into problems with the complex IT landscape presenting a barrier to any significant change.
Following a project to reduce complexity within existing systems, UCS looked at a number of vendors to assist in the wholesale migration to a virtualised environment. This led to UCS deciding on Fujitsu's pre-integrated vShape 100 virtualisation infrastructure, consisting of five Primergy servers capable of running 100 virtual machines, along with NetApp FAS NAS storage and Brocade Fibre Channel switches.
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