An interview with Daniel Smith, IT Manager, Highview College

  • 24 February 2016
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Background: Highview College provides an ecumenical and accessible educational environment that fosters the pursuit of excellence by all. Highview College provides every student with a device that is managed and maintained by the college. As IT manager, Daniel Smith is responsible for all aspects of ICT at Highview College, from research, development, design and procurement to installation and implementation. We recently spoke with Daniel about Highview’s transition to Nutanix, and how it has enabled the college to introduce new services for students and teachers. Here are the highlights:

Q: What challenges did your former infrastructure present?
We had a SAN-base virtual infrastructure we used to run everything from our student management system, file servers, and web filtering to our learning management system. The biggest challenge was the management of all of those different component – we had no easy way to controlling our storage, virtual application and networking environment. We didn’t have any major outages, but if we ever needed to run a significant upgrade, we had to do it outside school hours or it would have a big impact on students and teachers because applications would need to go offline for a period of time.

Q: Why did you select Nutanix?
Moving to a hyper-converged infrastructure was a big step for us. The biggest draw card was the fact that everything is managed in the one console via the Prism interface. Now I can see everything from storage performance through memory utilisation, network load, and bandwidth. With that visibility I can make sure applications are performing well, and take the best steps to ensure our students are never interrupted when using the various learning resources we have in place.

Q: Can you describe your transition to the Nutanix infrastructure?
We began reviewing our data centre at the end of 2014, looking at a number of vendors, mostly providing traditional SAN setups. It quickly became clear that Nutanix was the only fully virtual infrastructure provider. The implementation happened in June last year – we met with Nutanix who took us through the process and we were done in four hours. Everything was racked, stacked, configured and handed over to us. The best part was that there was zero down time moving from our existing infrastructure to Nutanix so students and teachers wouldn’t have even known it happened.

Q: What benefits has Nutanix brought to Highview?
In addition to the control I now have using Prism as I mentioned earlier, Nutanix provides the performance and reliability to ensure we can give our students all the tools they need to improve their education without interruptions from the technology itself. Because it’s hyper-converged and very easy to scale, we have been able to kick-start a project around SEQTA, which will provide our teachers, students, and parents with a portal that will assist them in their wellbeing and learning outcomes and will work side-by-side with our learning management system to further boost students’ learning experiences, and give teachers a much more efficient way to run their classes. That’s not something we had the capacity to do before.

This post was authored by Fiona Partlow, Senior Manager, Global Customer Reference Program at Nutanix

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