Higher Education, Higher Stakes: Flash Arrays Deliver Speed and Availability for College Campuses

Some of the greatest technologies have come straight out of our colleges and universities (robots that go to class for you, anyone?). No doubt those ivy-covered buildings inspire IT professionals to research and experiment with next-generation products and systems.

Truth be told, when IT staff use emerging technology in academic settings, it is probably because the demands of students and faculty are difficult to meet, especially on a budget. A campus community expects high-speed IT services and 24×7 access to data. In order for academic and administrative departments to be productive, their IT staff must support a broad range of applications and systems. It is critical for networks to accommodate large numbers of users and data reliably.

Like many other organizations, the IT staff at universities are finding relief through virtualization; but when their traditional storage doesn’t keep up with demand, they’re turning to flash arrays. In a recent survey we conducted, 83% of our customers in Higher Education and Secondary Education said that they chose Tegile arrays to replace outdated storage in order to deliver what their users need.

Common IT Issues Faced in Education

As we chat with our customers in Education, we see common issues that IT staff face when serving a campus community. IT staff on campuses tell us that they can no longer supply adequate performance and data capacity. They tell us that data recovery takes too long; but acquiring and maintaining redundant storage infrastructure is too expensive. They also point out that running multiple solutions adds complexity and administrative time that they would prefer to avoid.

One Tegile customer, Brigham Young University – Hawaii, faced many common challenges:

  • Slow performance in their fully virtualized environment
  • Limited IT staff
  • Outmoded, inefficient disaster protection (a critical consideration for this remote campus campus located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean).
  • Retrieving student records from Oracle databases took too long
  • Web page load times took too long
  • Video services took too long
  • Campus email for 1,200 Exchange users took too long
  • Workloads were rising
  • The university expected its student population to increase over 60% in the next few years

What could their IT staff do?

The university has since purchased three Tegile flash systems, replacing its IBM storage terabyte for terabyte, and one hybrid array for backup. While the raw capacity for primary storage stayed the same, with the added dedupe and compression that Tegile arrays include, this campus datacenter effectively gained 100-120 terabytes of space. Moreover, performance became 25-40 times faster for critical systems, including email. In fact, email speed became so much faster that users wondered what happened.

Under the hood, the IT department gained the flexibility of being able to use both Fibre Channel and NFS. By moving from NFS-mounted drives to virtual mounted drives, and with higher performing storage, IT staff could now load-balance across blades with no problems. Tegile arrays also include snapshots, replication, and other data protection services (included… as in, at no extra cost), so the university is now replicating snapshots to the DR array on the mainland. With all of these advantages, the upgrade to Tegile flash storage was affordable.

To learn more about how the IT staff at BYU in Hawaii leveraged flash storage to improve service to users, watch this archived webinar featuring R. Neal Moss, the Systems and Network Analyst for IT infrastructure at BYU Hawaii, with Henry Baltazar, Senior Analyst at Forrester. To see Tegile storage solutions for Secondary and Higher Education, see our Education page.

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