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Case Study

University of Nottingham

Empowering Growth: Scalable, Sustainable, and Cost-Effective IT Solution

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Industry

Solution provided

In 2023, the University of Nottingham ranked among the top 100 globally, accommodating over 45,000 students across eight campuses in the UK, China, and Malaysia. Recognised for its research impact, with over 3,000 researchers influencing 100 million lives, managing its extensive IT infrastructure is vital. A 200-strong digital team oversees operations, primarily hosted in two campus data centres, supported by NetApp Flexpod. Proact, a long-standing NetApp partner, leveraged its deep understanding of both the university’s needs and NetApp’s solutions to successfully implement scalable, sustainable, and cost-effective IT systems.

Challenges

Facing multiple pressing challenges, the University of Nottingham embarked on a crucial upgrade initiative.

End of Life: The NetApp Flexpod system, installed in 2015, had reached its end of life, threatening to fall out of vendor support. Given its central role in supporting an £800 million organization, timely upgrading was imperative to ensure uninterrupted operations.

Cost Constraint: The university grappled with budget constraints, particularly concerning research projects demanding substantial storage—often exceeding allocated budgets. Balancing cost with performance became a critical consideration amidst increasing data requirements.

Physical space: emerged as another challenge, prompting the need for a compact system poised for hybrid-cloud expansion. The complexity of the university’s existing infrastructure compounded the upgrade process, requiring meticulous planning to avoid disruptions.

Reliability: Concerns surfaced, signalled by a rise in disk failures, hinting at the system’s declining operational efficacy despite built-in redundancy measures.

NetZero: In alignment with its ambitious Netzero 2040 target, the university sought to minimize carbon emissions, making energy-efficient solutions a priority.

Data Growth: Exponential data growth strained existing systems, necessitating robust data management strategies to alleviate pressure on infrastructure. Addressing these multifaceted challenges demanded a comprehensive and strategic approach to ensure the university’s IT systems remained resilient and future-ready.

Proact bring a lot of skills and knowledge to the table, giving us the confidence that we’ll be supported through every process
Mike Scully – Infrastructure Manager

Solution

The newly implemented storage system, featuring SSD-accelerated NetApp FAS 8300, was successfully delivered within a tight timeframe to meet the critical extended support deadline. This deployment yielded the following advantages:

  • Modern Architecture: The university now boasts a contemporary, fully supported, and reliable system, serving as the backbone for their essential operations. Additionally, the updated architecture offers flexibility for future expansion into hybrid cloud environments.
  • Expanded Storage Capacity: The upgraded system significantly increases available storage, paving the way for future scalability within the data centre and potential expansion into public or private cloud environments.
  • Reduced Hardware and Carbon Footprint: Transitioning to a higher-capacity solution has allowed the university to minimize rack space, cooling, and power requirements. This reduction not only saves valuable resources but also aligns with the university’s NetZero objectives by decreasing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Performance and Reliability Guarantee: Despite the increase in disk capacity, the implementation comes with a NetApp-backed assurance of enhanced performance and reliability.
  • Seamless Integration: Proact collaborated closely with university teams and NetApp to meticulously plan and execute the migration of virtual machines and data. Despite the complexity of the university’s infrastructure, the migration was conducted seamlessly, without any downtime. The outgoing systems were successfully decommissioned as part of this operation.

Benefits

Key components

They were great at working quickly to get everything finalised. I was very impressed with the speed which things were done.
Samantha Jenkins – Storage Systems Engineer

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