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First Aussie win for Cisco's blades

Cisco's unified computing concept has received its first public thumbs up as Dimension Data announced today it had signed a deal to roll-out Cisco's unified computing system for the Catholic Education Network.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

Cisco's unified computing concept has received its first public thumbs up as Dimension Data announced today it had signed a deal to roll-out Cisco's unified computing system for the Catholic Education Network.

The entry-level position was quite affordable.

CENet solutions architect Glen Gibson

Dimension Data will be installing a single Cisco chassis with Cisco blades, NetApp expansion shelves and VMware's vSphere 4 to be the base for Cisco's unified computing system (UCS). Hardware and services will cost around $330,000.

The Catholic Education Network (CENet) provides datacentre services on a needs basis to 15 catholic dioceses. It had 40 stand-alone servers, of which 20 were ready to be refreshed. The network looked at virtualisation when it was doing that refresh and came across Cisco's unified computing.

CENet's Solutions architect Glen Gibson told ZDNet.com.au that CENet realised that the UCS was going to cost the same as other blade systems, but had tighter integration with VMware, enabled easy provisioning and was going to save costs on cabling. Considering the organisation already had a good relationship with Dimension Data and Cisco, he called it a "bit of a no-brainer".

Gibson said that there was a misconception about Cisco's UCS that it was only for large businesses. "The entry-level position was quite affordable," he said.

The system also allowed the network to grow as it wanted to, he said. Each diocese had their own IT team meaning that they only bought services from the network (which is owned by a consortium of the 15 dioceses) when they needed it.

Because of the Federal Government's Digital Education Revolution initiative, which aims to have each year nine to 12 student kitted out with a laptop, and the new plan to have Telstra connect catholic schools via cable, the network believed demand for its services would rise.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we went up to three, four, five chassis," Gibson said.

The network planned to use its infrastructure-as-a-service model to provide software-as-a-service to member dioceses and schools.

"The immediate benefit of the UCS solution for our dioceses is in being able to run their IT operations more effectively and cost-efficiently," CENet CEO Bede Ritchie said in a statement. "It will help them to more rapidly deploy cutting-edge learning environments, school administration systems, and applications to assist curriculum delivery in a digital age. And while Dimension Data's solution was no more expensive than other more traditional options, Cisco UCS also provides lower total cost of ownership benefits."

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