Situation

Eaton Bank Academy is a mixed school with Sixth Form for ages 11 to 18. The School has 700 students and 100 staff and is based just outside Congleton, Cheshire.
700 Students

In July 2016 Novus tendered for and successfully won a contract with the School to provide unlimited support and consultancy services. Whilst working with the School it became clear they were suffering performance and reliability issues with the majority of the infrastructure reaching its end of life. Users were experiencing difficulties logging on and in some cases they were unable to log on at all. During busy periods access to network shares and file data was also extremely slow.

100 Staff

The effect on teaching and learning was a loss of confidence in ICT to help deliver a lesson and staff often simply gave up using technology. The server and storage hardware were old, inefficient and needed replacing and was affecting users across the whole site. Network switches had also proved unreliable with several parts of the school having regular outages.

Solution

Novus assessed all of the infrastructure and worked with the school on a replacement strategy that would prioritise the more urgent requirements. Novus recommended a Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct solution as the option which best suited the requirements of the school. The solution has multiple benefits including:

High performance
proving more than 20 times the performance of an equivalent traditional server and storage solution

Cost
a lower cost solution particularly for education establishments that have a Microsoft OVS-ES agreement as licensing costs are negligible

Energy efficiency
the key to the solution was the reduction in the server hardware and there is no requirement for a separate storage device. This leads to a dramatic reduction in air conditioning and electricity consumption

Resilience
Due to the nature of the architecture the loss of a drive or multiple drives has very little impact on performance and a replacement can be easily swapped out.

Scalability
Any expansion is easily accommodated by simply adding additional drives or a new node to the environment.

Simplicity
Overall management is simplified with new Virtual machines deployed in a matter of minutes

Reliability
an environment built on Microsoft technology that is designed to work with the rest of your systems that in most cases are designed by Microsoft

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Result

Technical Overview

  • 3 x Physical hosts
  • 1 x Backup server
  • HP Aruba Switching
  • Leased line
  • Smoothwall
  • SCCM/MDT
  • Veeam
  • Windows 10
  • Office 365

Upon completion of the project there have been significant improvements in the overall provision of ICT at the school. Staff and students now have confidence that technology will be reliable, stable and high performing. This means teachers can prepare lessons fully utilising ICT with the knowledge this will not let them down at the crucial moment during a lesson.

Log on times have dramatically improved which has led to significantly less teaching time lost at the start of lessons. In moving their infrastructure from a traditional server and storage environment to Storage Spaces Direct the school were able to demonstrate an internal saving of around £3k per annum just on electricity costs alone. Significant saving were also made by reducing the amount of hardware in terms of maintenance contracts and Microsoft licenses.

What Eaton Bank Academy said…

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