Boughton Heath Academy, Cheshire

Building a new host server solution to support the school and their service provider

The Solution deployed?
We implemented a virtual server migration, moving them from an old host to a new configuration.

2+
Year Relationship

100%
Budget Maximisation
with a Fixed Cost Project

x5
Faster Data Access & Logon

48 mins
Maintenance Time
Saved per Fortnight

100%
Customer
Satisfaction

About

Boughton Heath Academy is a co-educational primary school that teaches over 200 boys and girls aged 4-11. Part of the four-strong primary only academy trust, Cheshire Academies Trust. The other schools in the Trust include Kelsall Primary and Nursery School, Mill View Primary and Bexton Primary School.

The main goal of Boughton Heath Academy is to enable their pupils to achieve their goals. They’re a National Support School with strong foundations in collaboration which is why they’re so passionate about their Multi Academy Trust and the opportunities it has given them all to improve and enhance their offering.

Boughton Heath Academy, Cheshire Academies MAT sites

boughton-heath-exterior_555x200.jpg

Our existing relationship

Boughton Heath Academy receives Fully Managed Service support from a company called 7eleven systems, which is run by a former School Network Manager, Dan Wooley. Dan worked with Virtue Technologies for a long time as a Network Manager so knows the level of expertise we bring, especially through our focus on education. As Dan began working with multiple schools, he approached us again to support with hardware purchasing and the implementation of new kit in some instances.

We work with Dan and the schools he looks after to provide procurement help, our size means we can use our buying power to get value for money when replacing ageing kit. And, most importantly for Dan, our long-standing relationships with our suppliers makes us trusted partners to them, meaning there's a higher level of support and accountability if hardware fails or even when it isn't delivered on time.

The Challenge

As their service provider, Dan from 7eleven systems mentioned to Boughton Headteacher Steven Ellis that their host server was very old and they should explore replacements.

We spoke with Dan and Steven about the aged Fujitsu Primergy server at Boughton and discussed options. We helped Dan explain that with their setup, their physical server hosted all their virtual servers, including their Domain Controller, File & SIMS Server and a Deployment & Imaging server.

We explained to Boughton that a new host server would increase their speed, stability and uptime, while also enabling them to run resource-intensive applications. However, the reason we, like Dan, advocating moving across to the new host is due to the issues that can arise with an ageing server in place.

According to a 2017 IDC Whitepaper, servers that are 5 years or more old have an estimated 200% increase in service costs due to their lower performance and higher failure rates.1 We were concerned that if left, the Boughton host server could experience an increase unplanned downtime as well as higher maintenance costs. We wanted to ensure that their budgets could allow for a new host server as it would be more economical long-term.

Fujitsu Primergy Host Server

Working with Virtue’s to find a solution

By installing a new host server, we first needed to migrate the virtual servers across from the old physical host to the new physical server. At Boughton Heath, the virtual servers running on their previous host were particularly slow due to the ageing hardware. While this in itself may not sound like an issue, the lack of speed is something that end-users likely experienced.

We refreshed Boughton Heath's aging equipment with our ability to deliver quickly & within budget.

One of our Senior Engineers, Joe, worked with Dan to develop a solution. All the Virtual Machines were fully migrated from the old host to the new. We then tested the backups and verified that they were still functioning, which they were.

Once we were comfortable the new setup was operating as we needed it to, we decommissioned the old host and removed it from active service. The last step in the new install was ensuring an uninterruptable power supply was reinstated for the new host post-install.

When we arrived on site, we also identified that the network was out of IP leases. This meant that new devices, wired or wireless, could not accept new devices until we expanded the DHCP scope of the servers.

Another part of our pre-project assessment was to analyse Boughton Heath’s data backup and see if it could be enhanced. We installed replacement disks to speed up the backup process and ensured that a data backup occurs every day.

Boughton Heath Academy Primary School, outside from the road

The Benefits

  • Faster Data Access
  • Quicker Logon Times
  • Speedier Backup Writing
  • More Secure & Compliant Server with Room to Grow
  • Improved Compatibility for Futureproofing
  • Reduced Energy Costs
  • Reduced Maintenance Time

boughton-heath-interior_555x314.jpg


The speed at which they can access data has vastly improved, their logon times and general server performance is also faster. Dan has seen this resulting in much quicker Windows Updates and restarts. By upgrading their host server, Boughton can now take advantage of the have the latest firmware and patching updates, keeping devices secure and compliant. Their data continues to be backed up every day with the new set-up, but again, these backups are a little faster than they were previously due to disks being replaced.

To ensure the new host server is futureproofed, a newer version of VMware ESXi was installed. This offers greater compatibility in the future when compared with the version running on the previous host. While installing the new host server, Joe Marsden, one of the Senior Technicians at Virtue, also configured their two data stores in a RAID 1 setup. He primarily did this to reduce redundancy and further improve the speed with which they access data. The RAID 1 configuration means that Boughton Heath’s data is written to two drives, identically, basically producing a "mirrored set" of drives, without parity or striping. This means that when a request is broadcast to both drives, it’s serviced by the drive that accesses the data first, improving the overall performance and ensuring better continuity, because the array operates as long as one of the drives is functioning.

Due to industry advancements, their new smaller host machine also has a greater capability for higher virtual machine density, so the school has room to grow their infrastructure in the future and they've reduced their energy and cooling costs. Because Boughton are in a support contract with 7eleven systems, the reduced maintenance time spent on the server doesn't impact their budget or costs. However, that valuable technician time can now be spent elsewhere to further support the school's teaching and learning.

How Can We Help You?

Get in touch today to talk through your IT challenges, we can help you find a solution.

T: 01695 731 233 | E: enquiries@virtuetechnologies.co.uk

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1. Based on the IDC White Paper, sponsored by Dell, Why Upgrade Your Server Infrastructure Now?, July 2016.