Talk about pressure. The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) serves an area of some 42,000 square miles, much of it remote and inaccessible, and in the middle of it all is a city that never sleeps, with students who expect full-service, always-on education to be there whenever they need it, around the clock.
Small wonder online instruction is booming at CSN, says Vice President, Finance, Patty Charlton-Dayar.
“Online education isn’t just desirable anymore: it’s a requirement,” she says. “It’s growing at 15 to 25 percent a semester, and keeping up with that demand is a challenge. What we can provide is based on the availability of instructors—and the capacity of our systems to support the course load.”
Until recently, a legacy server environment was one of CSN’s biggest roadblocks. Over the years, three data centers had become host to some 150 rack-mount servers, with new boxes added piecemeal when demand required. Management was difficult, and technology refresh next to impossible.
“The systems were aging, and that’s putting it kindly,” says Michael Graham, CSN’s Chief Technology Officer. “There were also serious power issues, and having three separate data centers created a real overhead when it came to service and maintenance.” Capacity couldn’t be utilized efficiently and the equipment simply wasn’t handling the loads.
What was needed was a simpler infrastructure. That meant consolidating the three data centers into one, weeding out disparate technologies, looking to a single vendor to standardize and modernize CSN’s systems, and looking to virtualization to improve flexibility, management and availability.
CSN knew HP as a systems vendor, but most of the business was in desktop hardware. Colorado-based HP partner Brainstorm was able to introduce the college to HP’s broad offerings in enterprise server and virtualization technology. Even more persuasively, Brainstorm generated a case study that yielded some impressive TCO and ROI figures with an HP blade solution.
CSN opted for four HP BladeSystem enclosures loaded with HP ProLiant BL460c and BL480c server blades, as well as an HP ProLiant DL585 server. Tools such as Systems Insight Manager (SIM), Insight Control, Integrated Lights-Out (iLO2) remote management and Onboard Administrator are also a critical part of the package.
The college purchased two HP ProLiant BL685c server blades for its virtualization plans. The blades will host 60 virtual machines, and are already improving the responsiveness of the IT department.