I recently spoke to Richard Markey IT Director at Havant Academy, formerly Sport Staunton Community Sports College, to understand a bit more about how and why they refreshed their IT Infrastructure to meet the changing needs of their transition to become an Academy.
“Good communication is a base component of success in life and communication in the 21st century is underpinned by technology. A carefully planned and integrated IT system enables us to run a successful business, make education attractive and close the gap between different levels of attainment.”
Julie Taylor – Principal
The Academy inherited an insufficient IT infrastructure that included 15 physical servers that were in desperate need of upgrading due to a severe lack of resources such as processor, storage and memory. As a result of this lack of performance, resources and expandability the users of the Academy network would regularly experience logon times of up to 7 minutes having a dramatic impact on learning and teaching. As a result of this Richard decided to refresh the entire IT infrastructure.
The decision to roll out Hyper-V R2 with core components of the Microsoft System Center suite has a range of advantages for the Academy.
“Hyper-V combined with System Center provides the Academy with an IT Infrastructure that has changed the culture of how our IT Support Team operates. Providing less operational headaches and allowing us to be more strategic”
Richard Markey – IT Director
Hyper-V R2 has dramatically reduced the amount of physical servers used to provide core IT services for the Academy. This has led to significant cost savings for both power and hardware replacement. Clustering services allow virtual servers to be made highly available and can be migrated between physical hosts with the click of a button.
Richard decided to integrate a selection of system center products providing additional enhancements. Virtual Machine Manager 2007 R2 (SCVMM) allows for the simple management and provision of virtual machines helping to improve the response time for IT support to implement new IT services. Operations Manager 2007 R2 (SCOM) allows the IT Support Team to monitor the physical Hyper-V Hosts and the virtual machines that they are running. PRO Tips have been enabled to create alerts if resources need adjusting and will live Migrate virtual machines between hosts if required.
The Academy wanted students and staff to have the latest in technology with Windows 7 and Office 2010 and looked at using Configuration Manager 2007 R2 (SCCM) to do this. Describing this as one of his ‘’favorite’’ products, setting up a universal image and then distributing this to over 500 clients again meant time and money saved. All the software used within the Academy is distributed using SCCM and by using Background Intelligent Transfer Services (BITS), software can be deployed with the end user still logged on. Once installed, the end user can instantly begin to use the newly deployed software. Windows updates have also been configured and are implemented during time slots that have the least impact on the Academy day using by maintenance windows.
The decision was made to implement System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 (SCDPM) to ensure that the Academy data is protected. DPM has the ability to restore an entire virtual machine and offer granular recovery. This allows the IT Support Team to recover exchange mailboxes, files and folders and SQL. Three recovery points are run each day at 9.00am, 1.00pm and 4.00pm providing the Academy with much more flexibility when work needs to be recovered.
From going to a school where technology was old, slow, sometimes didn’t work at all to an Academy with a fresh new IT infrastructure takes time to plan, especially where imagining 500 new desktops is involved, however all of the above was rolled out in just 6 weeks with the help of Medhurst Communications LTD
“There is a huge interest within Secondary Education migrating from Physical to Virtual Server estates. Both technically and financially, Microsoft Hyper-V R2 seems to be dominating this particular sector”
Charlie Baynes – MD of Medhurst Communications LTD
Richard recently visited the Microsoft office at Thames Valley Park near reading and gave a presentation on how this was all achieved and the impact this has had on education within the Academy. He is due to present again on the 15th June.