Core Services – Summer 2010

It has been a while since I last blogged anything so I thought I would take the opportunity to let you know what the Core Services team is planning for the summer. Our biggest project this year is our new data centre, it is currently under construction and should be completed by early July. It will be Edge Hill’s most sophisticated data centre to date and has been designed to follow current best practices for data centres. On completion the Core Services team will be moving the majority of the servers to this new data centre, this should then allow the existing data centre to be redesigned to make it more efficient. There will be minimal downtime involved, but any downtime will be publicised in advance. I am going to be taking pictures of build progress as we go along but the first picture is fairly unexciting (probably to most people except me).
Data Centre

We have recently updated our virtualisation software to VMware Vsphere and at last count we were running around 150 virtual servers. Most of the features require more explanation than a few lines to explain properly, but one of the features we are taking advantage of is the power management. VMware can monitor the IT load on virtual servers and physical server hosts, when the IT load drops the software moves virtual servers around to make best use of resources. Once this has been done VMware can then shut down physical servers that are not being used. This means that at night and off-peak times when demand for IT services is lower the software saves money by reducing electricity costs and also reducing any associated CO2 emissions. VMware continues to play a major part in our server strategy and all new IT servers will now be virtual unless there is a specific business case for the servers to be physical.

Over the summer we also aim to finish our student email migration from Groupwise to Googlemail, this project began last year with the introduction of Googlemail for first year students. We have already made preparations for the migration but there is a lot of work to do in order to notify the students before we can start the migration. I’ll be working closely with Learning Services to make sure this final stage of the project goes to plan.

And finally we are due to commission our second Compellent SAN in the next few weeks. Once the new data centre is complete the new SAN will not only provide us with some additional capacity, it will also give us resilience, enhanced backup capabilities and some facilities for disaster recovery. I had hoped that we would blog more about the Compellent SAN but new projects keep coming in. Our first Compellent SAN now holds most of our virtual machines and other files like staff home directories and staff shared directories. Once the new data centre is complete and the new SAN is commissioned I will post something around what the SAN does and why we chose Compellent.

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