High performance IT for high performing school
- Virtualisation of the entire infrastructure
- A business decision
- Substantial cost savings
- Smooth and seamless implementation
Cleeve School has a history of using innovative ICT solutions to create a modern and engaging learning environment for 21st Century learners. Located in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the school has 220 staff serving 1,600 students. It is a Technology College and High Performing Specialist School with an enviable reputation for doing things differently.
IT plays an important part in delivering the school’s information infrastructure. Not unlike large commercial organisations, the school had 600 computers and 15 physical servers running 24 hours a day. These servers run the Management Information and Finance databases, the school intranet and other essential software.
The school’s senior leadership team recognised the need for an experienced ICT project leader to design and implement a new ICT infrastructure.
Working with the senior leadership team and the ICT department, Tom Henson, ICT Systems Manager, agreed the best approach was a virtual server strategy. Virtualisation is a technology which consolidates data computers into virtual electronic servers running on a reduced number of powerful computers.
The school wanted to take a business rather than educational approach to ICT. Tom explains: “I have been told that this was the first time in the county, and possibly the country, a school virtualised its entire server infrastructure.” Although server virtualising is an accepted practice in industry, schools did not use the technology at the time.
The right choice
Because of the substantial cost benefits, Cleeve School decided virtual servers were the only choice. Like many public and private organisations, schools are under increasing pressure to reduce expenditure on electricity and the environmental impact of their technology.
“Although the early costs were comparatively high, the benefits and savings are significant,” Jim explains. By consolidating and virtualising the original 15 servers to three, the school now saves £15,000 a year in power and air-conditioning. Jim estimates a further saving of £10,000 a year from less management time, new applications and uptime benefits: “We have only begun to realise just how much we have saved. Last year we rolled out another set of applications and saved a further £6,000 on hardware alone.”
The right supplier
To be successful, the school’s project team knew they needed the right supplier. According to Jim: “We started researching and when we knew what could work, we approached potential suppliers.” After a tender and lengthy selection process, the school appointed Commercial IT Services.
“Commercial IT Services showed their solution would meet all the school’s needs, and the capacity to work for at least five years,” says Jim. “The new servers had to go in and work over the Easter holidays. The Commercial team was confident it would meet our needs and the installation went smoothly. Commercial has some of the best technical people I have come across. It was a trouble-free project.”