Despite its history as an "HP house", UCS decided against similar offerings from Hewlett Packard, IBM and Dell, choosing instead to implement Fujitsu's converged infratructure system.
"We spent a lot of time working with Fujitsu, saying 'can you prove to us that this works as least as good, if not better, than the corresponding HP solutions?'. Essentially I was asking my technical people, who are very pro-HP, to jump ship to another vendor."
According to O'Rourke, one of the main reasons for choosing Fujitsu was the vendor's willingness to enage in a "strategic relationship" with the university. In part this meant working with UCS on an academic level for research projects, , he said, with access to Fujitsu's technology at least as important as the solution itself.
"We are looking to work with a vendor at a strategic level ,so we spent time talking to people like HP, IBM and Fujitsu about how we would work together on a much broader basis than just what tin we have got in our data centre to run our business systems."
"To work with us at that level HP expected a much larger capital investment from the university in order to do things like get to their research labs, which is quite a useful thing for a university to do," he said.
A like for like replacement of physical servers was also looked at but deemed unrealistic, with costs likely to run over £400,000, O'Rourke pointed out. Instead, by implementing Fujitsu's virtualised environment, UCS costs were £120,000 for the entire system solution.
The vShape system is currently being installed at UCS, and O'Rourke expects to begin migrating major applications this summer, with a full move expected to be conducted over 12 months.
O'Rourke added that the vShape implementation will provide the basis for further improvements to its infrastructure, improving backup and disaster recovery systems.
"The major element we want to change is the way we do backup and DR moving forward. Currently if we had an issue it takes us a minimum of five days to recover our core systems, and five to ten days to recover most of the major systems."
He added that once the vShape migration is complete, introducing and deploying new software and applications will be significantly easier, enabling the university to move to Exchange Server 2010 much more quickly for example.
Migrating its student information systems will also allow the university to meet the requirements of admissions service UCAS to bring in a paperless application system, which had proved difficult using on its legacy infrastructure.
"The major system we want to move is the student information system. We are moving to a paperless application system, and we know we have got some performance challenges with how it is currently implemented. We want to give that a fresh infrastructure so we can remove some of those issues."
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