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Transforming Your Enterprise Magazine

Fall 2008
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Large Enterprise Business

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The great leap forward

The College of Southern Nevada needed a reliable infrastructure to keep pace with student demand. It got there by simplifying, consolidating and modernizing.

The great leap forward

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.

Rapid response

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.


“HP at its core is an engineering company, and we knew that the engineering was something we could trust. The technology is rock solid.” — Michael Graham, Chief Technology Officer, College of Southern Nevada

“It’s incredibly easy to put a new server online,” Graham says. “It takes ten minutes, as opposed to three hours for a physical server. You don’t have to scramble every time you want to add something new. Also we’re getting better capacity utilization: dedicated physical servers often wind up being underutilized.”

The learning environment

The efficient use of power and cooling resources was another challenge for CSN. The issue is familiar to enterprises everywhere, but especially urgent in Nevada.

“The cost of power is quite high in Nevada, and when you consider what our summers are like here, you can imagine the kind of cooling challenges we have,” says Charlton-Dayar. “We have to be mindful of the fact that if we’re investing too much in power and cooling we can’t invest in core areas, like new programs.”

With the previous infrastructure, cooling and power management were a problem, and downtime was unacceptably high. Now the data center stays at a uniform cool temperature, systems are available and reliable, and administrators don’t have to babysit.

CSN’s infrastructure is now ready for the projected launch of a new campus, and the forthcoming implementation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Blade technology has been a big factor in achieving the high levels of availability and reliability that CSN requires.

“Reliability is such a big issue that we wanted to go to a company that was a leader,” Graham says. “HP at its core is an engineering company, and we knew that the engineering was something we could trust. The technology is rock solid.”


Related links

»  Data Center Transformation Solutions
»  HP BladeSystem Solutions
»

Table of contents

Introduction

» Virtual for all the right reasons

Strategies

» The green standard
» Common Ground: Turning distress into ‘de-stress’

Feature

» Rethinking virtualization
» From IT tool to business enabler
» Virtualization beyond IT
» Built for virtualization
» IT leasing makes sense in tough times

Experiences

» The perfect virtual fit
» Selective outsourcing
» HP fuels The Indy Racing Experience
» Stepping up to service delivery
» The power of partnership
» Dressed for success

Solutions

» Pick-and-choose-support
» Getting the most out of outsourcing
» Teaching the data center to think green
» Storage briefs
» Data deduplication eases storage headaches

Technologies

» Mission-critical blades now available
» Taming the wild petabyte
» PDM moves up
» New 8P server addresses capacity, growth needs
» Storage for all sizes
» A SAN for all reasons
» Security without walls
» Putting petabytes to work for your company

Supplement

» The great leap forward
» Puzzled by power?
» The partner portfolio
» Server management simplified
» Two worlds as one
» The better road to open source
» Two blade servers in one
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