St Aloysius Cloud Storage Case Study
St Aloysius College builds strong platform for assured cloud computing future.
St Aloysius' College, located in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is a Jesuit independent day school for boys from Year 3 to Year 12. The College's Ignatian tradition of education aspires to deliver balanced and motivated academic excellence with a rounded social and physical development. The goal: men of competence, conscience and compassion.
The college has 200 teaching and administration staff catering for the needs of 1,200 students. Since 2007, its HP Storage Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) 4100 has been providing storage capacity to serve more than 1,300 devices such as desktops and laptops in use throughout the College.
By late 2011, the storage area network (SAN) was reaching its limits. Lack of storage space was restricting user access and the College was unable to upgrade to the increasingly attractive potential of cloud computing, whereby teachers and students can collaborate to jointly build and share media rich lessons.
The reliability of user access was at risk along with the accompanying danger of slowed data delivery to students. Such risks would only increase with the planned intake of an extra 50 students each year and the addition of 800 new devices to the network over the ensuing 18 months.
In addition, it became clear that a range of new features such as thin provisioning, snapshots, closer VMware and Microsoft integration confirmed the need to replace the current solution. St Aloysius College had decided to move away from Fibre Channel and to go to market for an iSCSI based solution utilising 10GBit Ethernet Fabric.
Brett Houghton, IT manager at St Aloysius, says: "Cloud computing is expected to change the learning landscape in education. Lining that cloud are some exciting classroom tools with the potential to engage students in many unexpected ways. The result will inevitably be a different, but powerful, digital learning environment."
Overcome the storage capacity limiting the College's ability to fully embrace cloud computing to enhance its teaching and learning environment.
The college sought input for a solution that would deliver an anticipated 40-50 terabytes of storage space over the next five years. Dell offered an outright purchase solution; however, Somerville offered a managed storage platform based on the HP 3PAR storage system.
Somerville's Cloud Solution offering built on the HP 3PAR storage system was an innovative resolution that solved the current storage limitations. This also facilitated Disaster Recovery and provided a cost effective OPEX solution.
An operational expense (OPEX) strategy rather than a capital expenditure (CAPEX) approach suited the college's philosophy - to externalise the management of a greatly increased storage area network (SAN) with cloud computing capability.
"Managing a SAN is not a core skill for us, so we were happy to move the task out of the IT department. As a result we are being very cost effective, able to lease just 20TB, enough for what we need now. We will judge it on a half yearly basis and will not need to incur the cost of those extra terabytes until we need them."
"It also gives us greater flexibility to take on cloud based services as we see them emerging. For instance, the tablets increasingly being used by students get more storage in the cloud and that saves the college power and cooling costs," explains Houghton.
Minimum migration impact
The changeover to Somerville Cloud Storage built on the HP 3PAR T200 solution was a joint effort by HP and Somerville. "It took less than an hour in downtime to migrate 10TB of data. It had minimum impact on our users. They are unaware of how the IT team had to juggle resources and memory when we were in danger of hitting our limits."
What the users are aware of is the speedier delivery of data, a greater expansion of the Microsoft Sharepoint content management solution, and the introduction of new cloud services.
What the IT team of six have experienced is the greater performance, the stronger scalability, and the value of the virtualisation environment. They were quickly able to turn off 15 physical servers and consolidate them onto the single storage system.
No storage worries
Houghton says: "We no longer worry about storage. Our team can now concentrate on identifying the cloud based services that are relevant to the college's educational and administrative needs and installing them onto our infrastructure. The Help Desk role is their other responsibility, and when we bump into any issues, it only takes a single call to Somerville and we can move on."
-All staff and students have benefited greatly from the increase and upgrade in storage. Every one of the 1,400 plus people in our organisation uses a service that is hosted on our storage many times per day, from file servers to web services / authentication systems.
-HP says its 3PAR storage platform is "storage born for the cloud". That's what we have seen for ourselves since we installed it. We are confident we can continue to exploit cloud opportunities in a timely and cost effective manner,- concludes Houghton.
- Allowed retirement of 15 physical servers through virtualisation with resultant cost savings and no loss of storage capability.
- Transferred the SAN management responsibility to Somerville.
- Freed in-house IT personnel to concentrate on identifying and applying educational cloud-based services and the management of our storage to the experts.
- Achieved stronger cash flow through lease-back service management agreement.
- Deployed cloud-based services to benefit the teaching and learning environment.
- Ensured business continuity with improved disaster recovery capability.
"Speed of data delivery, reliability, peace of mind about our disaster recovery ability and the confidence that we can economically embrace the educational opportunities that lie ahead. The HP 3PAR storage platform is giving our College that comfort factor about cloud computing." - Brett Houghton, IT manager St Aloysius College
Economy and technology
He adds: "Schools are not necessarily thought of as a business, but we are bigger than many businesses. So the economics and the technical capability of the solution were equally important."
Customer at a glance:
Industry sector: Education
Name: St Aloysius College
Headquarters: North Sydney, Australia
Telephone: +61 2 9922 1177
Number of employees: 200 teachers/1,200 students
Annual revenues: N/A
Number of employees: 80
Business: Managed Services, Cloud, Internet Services, Communications, Information Technology and Electrical solutions provider
Products: Cloud Solutions and ICT integrated business infrastructure solutions and services
Customer solution at a glance:
- HP 3PAR T-Class Storage System
- HP Managed Services