They are always available and respond quickly whenever we have encountered a problem.

 

This level of service is what is required and I feel confident that Virtue can continue to look after our ICT requirements going forward.

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Updates at Ilkeston

Since establishing the virtualisation strategy, Virtue have continued to develop the platform and have sucessfully deployed a fully virtualised server infrastructure. As well as providing energy savings and lower capital costs due to more efficient use of hardware resources, the updated platform also delivers high availability, better desktop management, increased security and improved disaster recovery capability.

Ormiston Ilkeston Academy

Virtue help Ilkeston Academy solve data centralisation and backup problem while providing a platform for virtualisation

Virtue Technologies have many years experience of helping secondary schools successfully implement and manage complex ICT solutions. By working in partnership with the school they build a quality relationship that will help achieve ICT objectives

The increasing dependence that schools are placing on their ICT resources is leading to a growing requirement for disk storage space for both applications and data. If this requirement is not properly planned and managed it cancause problems with regard to greater costs, management time and wasted energy.

Ilkeston School: Specialist Arts College is a successful 11-19 all-ability school serving the community of Ilkeston in Derbyshire. With over 1200 students in the school it has invested in improving ICT provision by giving all teaching rooms a dedicated Internet link as part of the overall network. This growth in ICT provision has caused problems in the management of the network as Matt Atkinson, network manager at the school explained. 

“When I first took over the role in the summer of 2008, I was faced with 14 servers across the network. Nearly all of these were under utilised and many only carried out one task. Not only was this inefficient but it also meant that we had reached the cap for our power utilisation and so we knew we had to change our approach if we wanted to continue to improve the quality and quantity of the service we provided to students and staff.”

Searching for an ICT partner

Matt had spoken to a number of prospective ICT partners to see how they could help them with this problem, but was unimpressed with the response. “All of them just spent 20 minutes or so on the phone with me then sent through a quote”, he said. “There was no real effort to fully understand what our problems were and what we would need for the future.

”As a result, when he was contacted by Virtue Technologies, he was impressed with their approach. “I could tell from the outset that they understood the ICT issues school faced”, said Matt. “Rather than talking to me over the phone they came down and spent a significant amount of time understanding exactly what we wanted to achieve now and going forward.”

Establishing a platform for a virtualisation strategy

Once the relationship had been established, Virtue consultants spent a number of days analysing the current situation, the problems and devising a strategy that would meet the school’s needs both immediately and for the foreseeable future.

“We knew that the best way forward was virtualisation”, said Lee Widdowson, Account Manager at Virtue. “So to solve the immediate problem of centralising data storage and backup we proposed a high specification server that could also support a virtualisation strategy in the medium to long term.”

Virtue implemented a Fujitsu PRIMERGY server as well as a Fujitsu ETERNUS storage array and tape autoloader.  These products work together to meet the immediate needs of the school and give centralised storage as well as providing an excellent platform for growth. 

“This approach and solution were perfect”, commented Matt. “ It allowed us to deal with the immediate problem of power usage and the high specification of the server allows it to be seamlessly integrated into a virtual environment. At present the new server is being used as a storage header server, within the next 6 months this will become a physical host for virtual servers.

“The storage array has already been configured with the correct drives ready for a virtual environment while the Tape Autoloader offers us the security of a backup routine to a different location on site, something we didn’t have previously.”

Understanding the ICT issues in schools

Virtue Technologies understood Ilkeston’s long term strategy and have guarded against wasted investment by specifying a server which will meet the immediate and long term needs of the school.

With the new Fujitsu server providing the data and backup centralisation that has enabled Matt to more easily manage the school’s network, plans are now in place to start reducing the number of physical servers further by adopting a virtualisation strategy during 2010.

“We designed the new server so that it could cope with the school’s virtualisation requirements in the future”, said Lee.“It was necessary to protect Ilkeston’s investment so we ensured that high speed SAS disks capable of fitting into a Virtual Environment were used rather than the usual SATA, disks.

It is this attention to detail that Matt believes sets Virtue apart from the other organisations he has spoken to. “I was impressed from the start with their technical knowledge and their understanding of ICT issues in schools. Their advice from the outset has always been based on what is right for the school and what will help us to offer a first class ICT service to students and staff.

“They are always available and respond quickly whenever we have encountered a problem. For example, we were recently hit by a virus outbreak that took our network down and they provided us with a technical expert FOC for a day to help eradicate the problem. 

“This level of service is what is required and I feel confident that Virtue can continue to look after our ICT requirements going forward.”