As we talk about cost saving we keep coming back to server virtualisation. I don’t feel the need to make any excuse for that, because as so many colleges have discovered not only does it provide substantial cost savings – and we all know how important that is – but it can also provide a better and more reliable experience for users.
We’re typically talking about using virtualisation to reduce the number of physical servers from say a dozen or so down to four or five. Now, though, we’re seeing examples in further education that make the case in even more dramatic terms. Earlier this year, for example, we published a Microsoft Case Study of virtualisation at Leicester College, one of the biggest FE colleges in England, with 26,000 students.
Like many colleges, it deals with a very mobile, diverse and dispersed body of staff and students. There are three main campuses in fact, as well as 200 other venues including churches, halls and community centres.
It’s no surprise, then, that IT is vital for binding the whole enterprise together, nor that by the time the network staff looked at virtualisation, they were maintaining 100 servers with the prospect of more to come and nowhere to put them.
“If we continued adding servers every time we wanted to offer a new service, we would have run out of space. Plus, our air conditioning system was inadequate and a new one would have been beyond our budget,” says Head of Libraries and E-Strategy, Paul Chapman.
Virtualisation was the obvious answer, and they’d considered and even piloted it before with limited results. It wasn’t until they consulted Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Dimension Data, who recommended Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V technology that the project became viable.
The case study describes how it was done, by Dimension Data people and College staff working together, over a very short period of time. You can also read about the very significant cost savings – a 50% reduction in the cost of the servers themselves; energy costs down by 18%; better and more cost-efficient use of staff time. And, importantly, a significant contribution to the College’s environmental strategy.