School district increases storage footprint, while cutting energy and space needs

By moving to "utility" storage, Austin Independent School District almost doubles its capacity
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

OK, pretty much anyone that I talk to anywhere in the United States lives in a community that is struggling to figure out how to fund their public school system adequately. Providing more e-learning tools invariably is a discussion point, but that usually requires some pretty serious data storage for the e-curriculum and other intellectual property. Which, in turns, requires more technology investment than most school districts are prepared to make. Unless they figure out how to cut current costs. It's the same vicious cycle that commercial organizations have been grappling with for years.

That's exactly the approach being taken by the Austin Independent School District, which is methodically investing in virtualization and utility technology that can help it reduce the real estate needed to manage its data center, as well as the energy needed to run it. Most recently, the district has deployed the 3PAR InServ T400 Storage Server in order to replace an aging storage area network (SAN) array that was fast becoming too small for the almost 90,000 users being supported across the district's more than 100 campuses.

Bill de Dufour, director of network systems and support for the school district, says the 3PAR virtual storage server has provided the schools with roughly 2 times the storage capacity (90 terabytes) that was previously available with its older SAN while saving about 20 percent of the electricity that was needed to power the hardware. The district has four centers that de Dufour loosely describes as data centers -- mostly, he is using whatever space he can find to place his technology. One reason he was able to choose the 3PAR option is because of the district's earlier investment in high-speed fiber to connect the data communications networks of all its campuses.

While de Dufour could not quantify the exact energy savings, he says the 3PAR technology has performed better than anticipated, enabling his team to introduce new educational applications without introducing management headaches. de Dufour notes:

"After moving to 3PAR, we noticed significant performance increases across our applications, including VMware. We anticipate that our investment in 3PAR, which has yielded bother operational and physical storage savings, will enable us to add an additional two hundred virtual servers in the coming year without hitting our space or power limits and without adding to our data center headcount."

You can read more details about the deployment here.

While technology is no replacement for great educators, I'm a firm believer that now is the time to take advantage of technology infrastructure options that can helps schools cut their IT budgets -- which in turn will leave them able to invest in real educational reform. I'm hoping to hear a lot more stories similar to this one in Austin.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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