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Western Oregon University Deploys NetApp Flash Storage

A new flash storage system at Western Oregon University has increased the school's storage capacity and speed while reducing downtime.

The small university has long been committed to providing technology-enabled learning opportunities, and it was an early adopter of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to provide students with access to virtual Windows desktops and applications from multiple campus computer labs. University administrators use IBM Cognos business intelligence software for dimensional data modeling, and professors use the Moodle e-learning system to incorporate videos, online quizzes and other digital content into their classes.

The university's extensive media-rich teaching and learning systems caused the system performance to lag and only 250 of the university's 5,200 undergraduate and 900 graduate students could log on concurrently. And when students logged on to their virtual desktops and launched applications, they would experience delays up to a minute long.

The university's search for a solution led to NetApp, a provider of data storage and management systems. Together with NetApp and Mountain States Networking, the university implemented a NetApp EF550 flash array and moved its IBM Cognos system, Moodle system and VMware virtual machines to the array. According to information from the company, the array "maximizes uptime with full redundancy and automated failover."

Since implementing the flash array, Western Oregon University has reported numerous improvements:

  • Support for 10 times as many concurrent users of media-rich applications, with 95 percent less processing time;
  • Ability to run business intelligence reports in 20 seconds instead of 6 hours; and
  • Backup time reduced from over an hour to only 9 minutes, with no downtime.

"NetApp flash storage has allowed us to reach a capacity of more than 1,200 concurrent users while providing exceptional system performance campuswide," said Bill Kernan, CIO of Western Oregon University, in a prepared statement. "That's five times our previous maximum."

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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