Case Study: University of Winchester

Part of UoW’s own ethos is the belief in the power of individuals to make a positive difference. A message they elected to follow when they turned to S3 earlier this year.

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Part of UoW’s own ethos is the belief in the power of individuals to make a positive difference. A message they elected to follow when they turned to S3 earlier this year.

Nestled away amongst the cobbled streets of Winchester, its University remains a bastion of heritage among Higher Education institutions.

Established in 1840, the institution owes much to its geographical location. Based close to the rolling plains of the South Downs National Park, surrounded by several idyllic country villages and overlooked by an impressive medieval Cathedral – The University of Winchester (UoW) is steeped in history.

These unique selling points and the University’s own climb up the academic & student league tables helps to attract close to 6000 students each year. However their recruitment is almost certainly aided by their own commitment to combine tradition with innovation.

Part of UoW’s own ethos is the belief in the power of individuals to make a positive difference. A message they elected to follow when they turned to S3 earlier this year to ramp up their storage capabilities and make the difference for them.

University of Winchester, Senior Systems Specialist Nigel Walters takes up the story:

“We have been utilising Dell Equallogic storage arrays for a number of years and we really needed additional Storage Area Network (SAN) devices to expand the shared storage which was available to our VMware vSphere environment.”

“Another key requirement was to ensure that we increased the SAN storage for our primary VMware Site and that we also enlarged our Recovery Manager Disaster Recovery suite. We went out to tender with this project because we were keen to explore what was in the market place and examine a real cross section of the systems and services available.”

“We then made a decision based on what was presented to us and it was clear that S3’s tender was the most compelling in terms of satisfying all of our needs.”

Away from the old and in with the new

Just weeks after the tender process was completed in August, an S3 technician was engaged to install and configure the proposed solution, a dual EMC VNX5300 storage system.

S3 delivered industry leading innovations and enterprise capabilities for file, block and object storage, packaged into a scalable and easy to use solution. This next generation storage platform is noted for its ability to combine powerful, flexible hardware with software that drives advanced efficiency, protection and management of today’s challenging data requirements. S3 have created not only a solution for the current needs, but also a solution with the capability to meet the demands of the ever changing technological landscape. And all just in time for the start of the new academic year!

So what makes it so special? Well the EMC Unisphere makes it easy to manage VNX systems from anywhere with a simple, integrated user interface for distributed storage environments.

Its architecture is designed to provide 99.999% availability in mission-critical business environments and has been expressly designed to take advantage of the latest innovation in Flash drive technology. If that’s not enough, it also comes with built-in features to ensure redundant, inactive, or anticipated data doesn’t consume valuable storage resources.

It is the ideal mid-tier system for virtualised application environments. Whether that is VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, or Xen-based, VNX is fully certified for all supported protocols to ensure successful deployments of virtualised infrastructures through all phases of implementation.

The solution & why it worked

There were seven simple reasons for the University to utilise S3’s cross-industry expertise and while several of these terms don’t slide off the tongue, they were, in a business sense critical to the success of the project:

Consolidation

As a unified storage solution VNX eliminates stand-alone storage, allowing customers to mix and match storage types which in turn enables storage consolidation for application servers.

What does this mean?

Improved service levels and lower costs associated with ownership and storage overheads.

Management

EMC Unisphere software is an easy-to-use, comprehensive management tool. It allows customers to manage, explore, monitor, and configure VNX systems, as well as existing Celerra and CLARiiON systems – all from a single interface.

What does this mean?

This is an easy to use solution for non storage experts.

Built-in features

EMC VNX provides advanced built-in capacity optimisation features, such as compression, file system deduplication, automated volume management, and virtual provisioning.

What does this mean?

Separate system files can be optimised into a single storage space which saves space and lowers cost.

Virtualisation-ready

The VNX series is fully certified for all supported protocols to ensure successful deployments into VMware, Microsoft HyperV, and Xen environments. Plus, Unisphere integration with VMware vCenter through VAAI (vStorage APIs for Array Integration) provides both storage and server administrators visibility into the entire environment, end-to-end.

What does this mean?

Multi-core CPU’s with extra memory and effective delivery of applications to end users.

Data protection

Software enables replication capabilities and offers point-in-time recovery features such as snapshots and clones combined with automated application copies for assured recovery. The VNX series also provides monitoring and alerting for compliance of protection policies.

What does this mean?

Enterprise class features which ensure data recovery and application continuity to reflect business policies.

Scalability

Unlike its predecessors the VNX series is designed for a modular, pay-as-you grow approach. You can add a combination of X blades and/or storage processors to match the performance needs of the business.

What does this mean?

Versatility, and the ability to increase storage and performance as and when required.

Continuous availability

The VNX series is designed to provide 99.999% availability in mission critical business environments.

What does this mean?

It is a highly resilient and robust system that allows customers to continue running at the same performance and service levels, even in the event of a failure. And so avoiding any costs associated with downtime.

“As well as all the aforementioned the other beauty of the new VNX series is that its Flash optimised” says S3’s Services and Solutions Consultant, Ian Nave.

“In fact it was expressly designed to take advantage of the latest innovations of flash drive technology. It is incredibly efficient! It dynamically absorbs unpredicted spikes in system workloads and boost performance by using high performance flash drives as an extension to cache and/or storage pools.”

“Perhaps the most incredible facet in all this is that it does all of the above, and does it more automatically, based on customer defined policies. Thus saving time and money by intelligently doing the work related with pre and post provisioning tasks.”

Meanwhile back in Winchester and now with three months experience of the new system, Nigel Walters cites performance, future scalability and easy management as the main benefits:

“The VNX5300’s are performing better than expected. We have seen a significant increase in disk I/O versus our previous solution. Combined with easy to use single point of management for both systems, it has made managing our VMware environment more efficient.”

“The implementation work carried out by S3 was done in a timely and professional manner and without our users being aware of the work that was being done. The on-going pro-active support is also excellent.”

University of Winchester

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