Jun 14 2011

The Cumulus Effects of Collaboration

Video offers an inside look at Illinois' shared computing model.

Every year, 869 Illinois school districts scramble for money and access to the computing, storage and networking infrastructure they need to meet students' educational needs. But a grass-roots effort spearheaded by Bloomington Public Schools District 87 is connecting districts to these resources at deep discounts.

Through the IlliniCloud, participating schools and districts share resources that are owned and operated by the IlliniCloud nonprofit consortium and managed through three district-owned data centers throughout the state. This model of computing reduces cash-strapped districts' IT-related capital expenses and ties operating expenses to use. Member districts retain control of their resources and data, and pay only for the virtual servers, online storage, high-speed network connectivity, cutting-edge applications and essential IT services they use.

To date, about 150 districts have joined the IlliniCloud initiative. Administrators hope to raise that number to 400 by 2014.

Want to learn more about the IlliniCloud from the people who made it happen? Visit cdw.com/IlliniCloud to watch a video detailing the initiative's development, benefits and long-term goals.


Peeling Back the Layers

IlliniCloud organizers had a “vendor-neutral, standards-based mentality” about the technologies that should be used to power their community cloud. “We didn't want to just have one vendor provide the entire solution to us,” explains Jim Peterson, director of technology for Bloomington Public Schools District 87, who spearheaded the IlliniCloud's development.


Bloomington Public School District 87's Jim Peterson and Jason Radford reveal the IlliniCloud's origins in “Land of Leverage,” from EdTech's May/June 2011 issue.

So Peterson and Jason Radford, the district's systems administrator, turned to CDW for guidance.

“Putting all the tinker toys together is always a challenge,” Radford says. “We definitely leveraged solution architects like [CDW's lead solution architect] Dan Vargas, especially in rapid and evolving areas of the cloud, such as networking and security.”

In collaboration with CDW, IlliniCloud organizers built a technology infrastructure that makes use of the following products:

“The infrastructure as it is designed is a very resilient platform,” Vargas confirms. “It has a lot of hardware pieces that, in a failure mode, don't take down an entire network.”