To support the success of every student, we leverage Oracle business intelligence tools for predictive modeling to identify when counseling intervention is needed. We need the capacity to run demanding applications, the uptime to operate around the clock, and the agility to react quickly to changing demands. HP and Columbus State University has a long standing relationship that started in 1995. HP account team, VAR partners nurtured that collaboration with CSU in to a successful partnership to lay a solid infrastructure foundation to position the university to transform to a global university.
To meet these goals, we virtualized our data center running VMware software on HP Converged Infrastructure. HP was a natural choice. We had relied on HP servers, networking, and storage for more than a decade. We also use HP Z Workstations in our computer labs, HP notebooks for faculty and staff, and HP printers around campus. We keep abreast of other vendor technologies, but we’ve always had a good relationship with HP. HP integrates well with the VMware platform—and when we upgraded and consolidated our servers, HP was a fantastic guide. We used HP Technology Consulting Services to design a new high performance, energy efficient data center. We consolidated from approximately 200 physical servers down to an eight-blade HP BladeSystem infrastructure that requires less electricity and cooling, and that even reduced footprint enough to allow us to rent out freed floor space. HP consultants came in and worked with us on the design of our revamped data center, all the way from security to redundancy, including air conditioning systems, fiber coming in and out, and generator systems with backups.
At the heart of our data center is the HP BladeSystem c7000 Enclosure that provides all the power, cooling, and I/O infrastructure needed to support modular server, interconnect, and storage components. I’ve always been impressed by the modularity of HP equipment. You can tailor it to specific needs to be more flexible and to save money. You can add capacity when you need it. Our enclosure houses eight production blade servers. We use HP ProLiant BL685c Server Blades to house most of its test and production virtual machines. A blade is a self-contained server that contains only the core processing elements, making it hot-swappable. For additional storage, blades can connect to another storage blade or to a network attached SAN. We run our test and non-production systems on HP ProLiant DL385 Servers.
The HP StoreVirtual P4500 Storage System gives us a virtualized pool of storage resources to deliver enterprise SAN functionality. You have storage but also brains behind it. You have multiple interconnected servers. The data that gets written out to that storage is spread across all the different servers and disk drives. That gives us two main advantages. One is redundancy, so that if a drive or even an entire storage node goes down, we don’t lose data, and the end user never knows it happened. Two, if you’re writing to or reading from multiple disks, you can store and retrieve data much faster. You spread out the hardware load and the risk across multiple nodes of storage, all acting as one.
We used HP LeftHand SAN/ iQ software to provision and manage storage, and thanks to tight integration between HP and VMware, envision being able to monitor and manage the environment from a central VMware vSphere platform.
HP Networking switches deliver high quality networking services with the modular
ability to add capacity. The HP Networking Lifetime Warranty delivers next-business-day replacement, with phone and email support. One of the reasons HP has a leg up on the competition is its lifetime warranty and maintenance. With some vendors, you have to buy maintenance agreements every year, and that gets expensive. HP Network Management software enables network firmware updates, notifications, and alerts, with single-pane-of- glass control. Recently, we started talking to HP about HP Software-defined Networking (SDN), providing an end-to-end solution to automate the network from data center to campus. We’ll be able to virtualize network components for redundancy, performance and high availability—have multiple physically separate network components act as one unit, so that if switch A goes down switch B takes over for it.
Server provisioning in the virtualized environment takes 30 minutes, compared to 30 days to provision a new physical server. That enables us to quickly adapt our network and systems to accommodate increasing traffic, new services, and demanding applications. Faculty today increasingly run “upside down” classrooms, providing lecture content in multimedia formats to be viewed beforehand, with class time spent working collaboratively in small workgroups. They also expect the latest educational applications to be available quickly in computer labs. In the past, it took a substantial amount of time for our staff to reimage computer lab devices; now the task is quickly accomplished, and we are even able to give end users some self-service access to machines and their functionality. The next step will be to leverage VMware for a more cloudlike, IT-as-a-Service environment in which staff can provision their own resources without calling on our IT department. Our HP CI foundation absolutely will support this evolution.
Another thing the infrastructure now supports is the predictive analytics we employ to trigger counseling intervention for students in need. We use Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition(OBIEE); Oracle Data Integrator (ODI); and Oracle Endeca Information Discovery to analyze unstructured data, such as that generated by social media, to detect when a student might be encountering academic, social, or financial difficulties. We have a goal and responsibility to reach out, intercede, and support students as soon as they are having difficulties. Those things would not have been possible in the old environment; it couldn’t have handled the bandwidth or processing. But successful universities of the future will have to do all this.