Geelong Grammar School gains efficiency and flexibility with NetApp
Sydney, AUSTRALIA -
June 9, 2011 - Geelong
Grammar School in Victoria is Australia's largest boarding school
with more than 1,500 students from Early Learning to Year 12 across
five campuses. The 156-year-old school has 360 employees with the
objective of offering all students an exceptional education and
Geelong Grammar School (GGS) has approximately 1,500 users on its
fully-integrated IP network across all five campuses. This
includes in excess of 1,500 laptop computers, with all teaching
staff and students from years 5 to 12 having a laptop in addition
to approximately 250 desktops across a fully integrated and
wireless network. These PCs provide students and staff with access
to the internet, email, the GGS's learning system, the staff's
administrative system and other applications. The network also has
over 36,000 members of the community accessing information remotely
through the Parental Portal on a regular basis.
The network is used to store a wide variety
of data, including teaching files, student information, multimedia
files, music, PDFs, and various other forms of documents used
within administration and the learning environment.
Based on the school's philosophy of offering
the best learning tools for students and teachers, GGS was facing
the challenge of a bigger curriculum with wider requirements, which
contributed to increasing demands for accessing, downloading and
storing data. With data increasing exponentially, GGS's IT team
was faced with the challenge of improving the legacy tape-based
back-up function to meet the increasing strain on the network. GGS
was reaching the point where the traditional tape-based backup
methods were taking longer than the allocated backup window. This
contributed to delays in information access and delivery for staff
and students, resulting in decreased efficiency and
David Witcombe, Manager of Information,
Communications and Technology, Geelong Grammar School, said, "Our
old tape-based back-up system was a highly manual process which
contributed to inefficiencies in our IT environment. We were faced
with a higher chance of human error, as well as the fact that
failure of the tape meant the backup would be incomplete."
This presented a challenge for GGS from
several perspectives. First, any issues with unsaved data meant it
was unrecoverable, placing the school in a position of risk and
possible non-compliance if an error occurred.
David Witcombe said, "It's education Best
Practice to keep data on students for seven plus years, so we
needed a system that would not only allow us to do that, but also
allow us to read today's data seven years from now, or legacy data
on our current systems."
In addition, there was very little
opportunity for scalability of the old storage system, restricting
the future growth potential for the network and the types of
learning methods GGS staff could offer students.
From the technical perspective, it would take
the IT team several days to create a development and testing
environment from the rigid legacy system, which was extremely
inefficient in terms of time and productivity.
"We knew we needed to replace our old tape back-up system and come
up with a newer, much more efficient storage environment, which
involved a full rethink of our strategy," David Witcombe said.
GGS had a strong, long-term relationship with
NetApp partner, Think Technology, so decided to engage the team to
assist with design and implementation of a new storage
David Witcombe said, "The majority of our
technology infrastructure comes from one major vendor, so when
Think Technology suggested we consider another vendor - NetApp -
for storage, it was a very big ask. Our long, strategic
partnership with Think Technology is based on trust, so we decided
to take their advice and go with NetApp, and it was the best
decision we could have made."
GGS initially worked with Think Technology to
implement a NetApp FAS2020 system with 2TB of data to solve the
back-up and data storage issue. Following the success of that
implementation, GGS wanted to examine a full NetApp disaster
recovery and SAN solution which would offer higher availability,
reliability and scalability. As a result, GGS implemented a NetApp
FAS2040 and expanded the existing FAS2020.
The new solution also included NetApp
Flexclone, NetApp SnapVault, SnapMirror, SnapMirror for Virtual
Infrastructure and NetApp Deduplication.
GGS also fully virtualized all servers as
part of the upgrade.
The primary site for GGS's IT infrastructure
and key applications is the Corio campus in Geelong. The disaster
recovery site sits within a separate building to the main IT
infrastructure, which is run across a high speed fibre
"The benefits we've experienced by implementing a NetApp data
storage system are significant," David Witcombe said.
"We now have a highly efficient data storage
system, which we can expand quickly and simply when necessary. By
implementing NetApp Deduplication, we've generated massive gains.
What was up to 20 terabytes of data has been reduced to just six
terabytes via deduplication.
"We've gone from 18 physical servers with no
virtual machines to six physical servers and 40 virtual machines.
In six months, we will have that down to just one physical
"Once we realised the benefits a new storage
infrastructure would provide the school, it was a natural
progression for us to move to server virtualization, then to NetApp
"We now have complete peace of mind that our
system and the data on it, is safe and secure - something that is
critical when working in a very dynamic education environment. We
can be confident that the six-monthly audits implemented to
maintain correct levels of governance will reinforce our compliance
with policy and regulations," David Witcombe said.
The GGS IT team also benefits from faster
creation of development and testing environments, which now takes
minutes rather than days. "This benefit alone generates massive
dollar savings for us, because we can put the systems analysts'
time to much better use than provisioning space for
David Witcombe continued, "With the demands
on our technology continually increasing, it's critical for us to
know that we're working with a flexible, scalable system which is
reliable and available. In our environment, delays and low
productivity aren't acceptable. With the NetApp storage
infrastructure underpinning the rest of our network, we are happy
in the knowledge that we are operating in the most efficient,
flexible option available. We are in a great position to move into
the future stages of technology requirements for GGS."
David Witcombe's ongoing plan for GGS's IT infrastructure is to
continually upgrade the storage system to introduce an even higher
level of flexibility and efficiency across the school's five
"Our next stage will involve expanding the
capacity of the existing NetApp FAS units, as well as install a
couple of others at different locations to provide our remote sites
at Timbertop and Toorak with full access to disaster recovery and
"The cloud is also a possible future option
for us for archiving, so we don't have to look after the physical
equipment related to old information.
"No matter which steps we choose to take when
further developing our IT offering, we have implemented the
foundations and building blocks for a much more flexible, scalable
IT environment, so we are future ready," David Witcombe
- NetApp FAS2020 x 1 (DS 1414 x2)
- NetApp FAS2040 (Clustered - DS 4243 x 2)
- NetApp Flexclone
- NetApp SnapVault
- NetApp Snap Mirror and SnapMirror for Virtual
+61 29469 5740