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College of Idaho Upgrades Storage for Virtualized Environment

The College of Idaho has implemented new storage infrastructure to improve the performance of its virtualized environment.

Students, faculty and staff at the college run applications such as Microsoft Outlook, a learning management system (LMS), an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and educational applications in a VMware virtualized environment. However, they were experiencing latency problems with the college's old HP storage solution. After researching various options, the IT team decided to switch to SmartStack for Business-Critical Applications from Nimble Storage.

The new system consists of a Nimble Storage CS-series array and Cisco UCS blade servers, and it uses a hybrid storage architecture that integrates flash with high-capacity drives. According to information on the company's site, SmartStack uses flash solid-state drives (SSDs) to speed up the read process by dynamically caching hot data, and it uses a write-optimized data layout to speed up the write process.

The system also uses Nimble Storage's Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) architecture, which features mechanisms such as inline data compressions, instant redirect-on-write snapshots, zero-copy cloning based on snapshots and thin provisioning to optimize disk usage. Alan Price, systems administrator at the college said the CASL architecture has increased the system's overall efficiency.

According to information from the company, people at the college can now load e-mails from the Exchange server instantaneously, compared to 30 seconds with the old system; IT administrators can update servers in two hours rather than six hours; and they can spin up a virtual machine in less than five minutes rather than 45 minutes.

"After our upgrade, implementing new business applications no longer requires significant planning, and the latency problems we once experienced have been replaced by immediate accessibility for employees and students alike," said Price in a prepared statement.

The College of Idaho is a private liberal arts college located in Caldwell, ID, serving more than 1,200 students and employing more than 300 faculty and staff.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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