Loughborough University is one of the United Kingdom’s leading universities, with more than 13,000 full-time students, a reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with business and industry, and a highly competitive sports development program. The award-winning university has 21 academic departments and more than 40 research centers and institutes. Loughborough University is the largest single-site campus in the country, with 437 acres of land. With a staff of over 3,000, the university is Loughborough’s largest employer.

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Located in the Borough of Charnwood in the county of Leicestershire, Loughborough is a thriving town and prominent high-technology center that attracts investors from around the globe. Loughborough University focuses on making smart investments in technology, specifically those that support efficient university operations and a superior student experience.

“All university activities are underpinned by some aspect of IT,” says Dr. Phil Richards, IT director at Loughborough University. “We have a large campus and 15,000 technology users. Whether researchers are conducting world-class research, students are learning online or engaging in school activities, or university administrators are managing programs, everyone needs highly available systems and anytime, anywhere access.”

Recently, IT management identified an opportunity to significantly reduce costs and increase the return on the university’s IT investment while improv¬ing IT services that support education and research initiatives. Its 30-year-old data center offered limited capacity and a low power utilization efficiency rating. The university needed to upgrade its data center and end-of-life components and faced the daunting prospect of spending $3.6 million to keep their legacy data center operating. “We were reluctant to invest our resources in a massive data center building project based on predictions,” says Richards.

IT management searched for a cost-effective IT solution that would provide the bandwidth and scalability required for educational programs and world-class research for the next 10 to 15 years. The university hoped to find an innova¬tive solution that would allow it to focus more resources on its core educational and research missions, as well as to improve the educational environment for students and instructors.

After considering many different cloud solutions, Loughborough University selected a hybrid cloud solution from Logicalis UK. Headquartered in Slough, Berkshire, Logicalis is an international IT solutions and managed services provider, specializing in communications and collaboration; data center and cloud services; and managed services to clients across both the public and private sector.

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Unified storage platform across a hybrid cloud

Logicalis UK consolidated Loughborough’s existing data center into two “minipods” that created a local private cloud, and then integrated the onsite storage environment directly with the Logicalis hosted, shared cloud services platform. The private cloud solution onsite at the university, managed by Logicalis, includes FlexPod® data center solutions deployed at either end of the campus, with additional FlexPod solutions for extra capacity in Logicalis’ public cloud. Each FlexPod configuration is composed of NetApp MetroCluster™ software on a NetApp FAS3000 series storage system, Cisco Unified Computing System™ B200 Blade Servers, and Cisco Data Center switches, with VMware® vSphere™ and vCenter™ for virtualization.

“NetApp provides a single architecture that Loughborough University leverages to tie together the private and public clouds essential to our enhanced IT strategy,” says Richards. “We only had to learn one hybrid cloud environment, making it much simpler to manage.” Loughborough further streamlines storage management with CA Technologies software, which automates service delivery and the provisioning of its physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

Logicalis chose FlexPod for the pub¬lic and private clouds based on the solution’s flexibility and scalability, as well as the success of the long-standing NetApp and Cisco partnership. “There are few enterprise-grade clouds operating today,” says Chris Gabriel, Vice President of Solutions Management, Logicalis. “The NetApp and Cisco part¬nership has solidified the virtual, robust architecture of the FlexPod solution in a way that allows us to deliver a highly competitive hybrid cloud service.”

Logicalis leverages NetApp MetroCluster array-based clustering with synchronous mirroring to deliver continuous availability and zero data loss. The company achieves maximum flexibility in the shared storage infrastructure of its hybrid cloud by using NetApp MultiStore®, which provides secure multi-tenancy to support the storage needs of Loughborough University and other customers.

MultiStore has enabled Loughborough to eliminate “distributed data centers under desks,” where professors, researchers, and other personnel used local servers and storage, creating information and IT management silos. “With NetApp MultiStore, we can create multiple virtual storage systems within our single consolidated FlexPod plat¬form,” says Gabriel. “Loughborough University faculty members, for example, can have access to their own secure, private storage environment, without the risks associated with storing their academic and administrative data in a classroom, lab, or office.”

Loughborough University recognizes Logicalis as an IT services innovator with a commitment to the educational sector, as evidenced by Logicalis’ deci¬sion to connect directly into the U.K.’s premier education and research network, the Joint Academic Network, or JANET. “JANET is a highly efficient communi¬cations environment with incredibly high bandwidth and competitive costs that provides us a very fast channel of communication between our local data center and the Logicalis data

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  • Saved US$3.6 million in IT costs to reinvest in higher education programs
  • Enabled IT on demand and a foundation for the future
  • Achieved 80% IT consolidation
  • Enabled faster turnaround of requests for IT, accelerating groundbreaking research
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