Jan 06 2012

Virtualization: The Heart of Efficiency

Schools can leverage virtualization technology to optimize infrastructures and improve performance.

When Melissa Auchter and Mark Landis joined Michigan’s Ferndale Public Schools (FPS) in 2008, its data center was barely meeting current requirements, much less its future needs. At least one of its six servers crashed daily, and some were at their limit of disk space. Auchter and Landis knew they had to address these issues while working on a shoestring budget. They did it by investing in a new data center with server virtualization at its heart.

Today, FPS has a more reliable, cost-effective and easier-to-manage server ­infrastructure, plus the computing power and ­storage space to support its growing technology needs. “We have a small staff, so virtualization ­allows us to be more ­efficient,” Auchter says.

In the first year, Auchter and Landis focused on laying the foundation for the new IT infrastructure and migrating from Novell NetWare to Microsoft. They bought three new HP servers, started up Active Directory and virtualized non–mission-critical applications. Stabilizing the ­current infrastructure and keeping critical applications up and running proved to administrators that Auchter and her team could produce positive results. “Instead of e-mail going down every day, we kept it and Internet access up 24x7,” Auchter says. “That showed us what we could do.”

The second year, they purchased three more HP servers, virtualized mission-critical applications and installed more ­educational apps as virtual machines (VMs). This past summer, they bought two more servers to virtualize remaining applications. FPS also moved 17 existing VMs to a new, high-powered server for optimal ­efficiency and performance, Landis says.

“We did a lot of planning,” Auchter says. “Mark spent time researching and sitting down with me, saying, ‘Here are three options or ways that we can ­implement this,’ and we talked through the details of the implementation.”

These and other IT leaders are mapping out their paths to data center efficiency and cost savings through virtualization. To read more, turn to “Open Road.”

Cloud Computing Webinar

Bloomington Public Schools, District 87’s Jim Peterson and Jason Radford have overseen the creation of the IlliniCloud — a grass-roots effort to give all Illinois school districts access to a computing, storage and networking ­infrastructure at reduced cost. To learn more about the IlliniCloud from the ­people who made it happen, ­register for EdTech’s live webinar on March 7 at edtechmag.com/k12/webinar.

Ryan Petersen sig

Ryan Petersen