Whilst I know that there are many differences between education IT and commercial IT, there are still more similarities than differences. For example, when I was reading a Delimiter case study about Coles IT systems, and their decision to virtualise their store servers onto Microsoft’s Hyper-V, I couldn’t fail to spot similarities between their IT and an education IT system:
- Quick disaster recovery: In the case of Coles, they wanted something that could get their stores ‘back up and running in a matter of minutes’ if a failure occurred. No difference there to a school, TAFE or university, where a failure could lead to a loss of a significant learning activity for students.
- Central IT supporting 741 supermarkets: This is the equivalent of government schools supported through a central infrastructure, or faculty supported by a university central IT team
- 12 million customer transactions a week: Well, once you consider the number of students, their transactions, and the data flying around for registration etc, then you’re easily going to hit that number in education
The case study is significant, because it records how Coles have deployed Microsoft’s virtualisation and management technologies (Hyper-V and SystemCentre) across 300 stores, with a plan to finish them all during 2012. As the journalist says in the analysis:
|Wow. The virtualisation market has been completely dominated by VMWare for a number of years now, and while the company’s solution is technically excellent — causing a virtual overnight revolution in the way we think about enterprise IT — that dominance has also led to some unfavourable conditions being imposed on VMWare customers from time to time.|
I often come across a mindset in IT in education which reflects a way of thinking along the lines of “We’ve always done it this way, because everybody does it this way”. As with the disruption created by cloud projects, I think there are lots of other IT projects being done differently, to improve agility or reduce cost. If that’s on your radar, I’d recommend reading the case study of Coles virtualisation, to see if there’s lessons for your education IT too.
And if you find that interesting, maybe you’d want to read their story about ING Direct rolling out a ‘Bank in a Box’ using the same technologies to create a private cloud solution.