Aussie university joins Cisco cloud

Curtin University of Technology working with tech companies to deploy internal private cloud for its campuses across Asia-Pacific region.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Australia's Curtin University of Technology will be deploying an internal private cloud based on Cisco Systems' Unified Computing System (UCS) data center architecture, an university executive reveals.

During telepresence session Wednesday from Cisco's Sydney site, Curtin CIO Peter Nikoletatos presented the university's move toward cloud computing to an international audience that included media from China, India and Singapore. The university has some 43,000 students and operates out of 16 locations including campuses in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Curtin signed up for a beta cloud-based service that runs on Cisco's UCS and is provided by Australian telecommunications service provider, Optus Business. In a statement released Wednesday, Optus referred to Curtin as the first pilot customer to sign up for the service that will provide the university with on-demand access to a fully virtualized private data center.

Detailing the benefits of the service, Nikoletatos said: "Using virtual machines or infrastructure on a consumption basis provides enormous flexibility in terms of pricing and usage, as well as the ability to scale up and down depending on our current computing needs."

He noted that previously, for maturing infrastructure, the school had to rely on capital budget before it was able to move forward with new projects. But with the utility based computing, the university will only need to pay for what it needs and not what it has.

On the measurable benefits of the move, Nikoletatos said cloud computing provides the economies of scale that it would not otherwise be able achieve within its own boundaries as it does not have the same flexibility. He gave the example of researchers digitizing their works and how the school will not be able to "turn on" and "turn off" petabytes when not needed.

Andrew Vranjes, practice manager of Alphawest who was also at the telepresence, said one of the most critical paths of cloud computing, which is sometimes overlooked by customers, is the network. He added that the first phase of the Curtin project will involve the deployment of a local area network core.

According to Vranjes, the goal is to simplify and flatten the local area network, providing adequate bandwidth for the university's current requirements and future-proofing the bandwidth to meet future needs. With the move to cloud computing, where services come from a distributed set of areas, it is important for the network to support all services to get the full benefit, he said.

Asked if Curtin's move will be affected by Australia's mandatory ISP Web filter, Vranjes said as the service is delivered over the Optus private network, it will not be impacted and will not be "at the mercy of the Internet".

Optus and Alphawest had worked with Curtin for the past 12 months to define its cloud roadmap. The two companies will further work with the university over the coming months to determine which of their systems, applications and computing needs are most suitable to migrate to the beta Optus cloud platform.

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