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Randolph College Virtualizes on SAN

Randolph College, formerly Randolph-Macon Women's College, has upgraded its storage to an IP-based storage area network (SAN) from StoneFly. The Lynchburg, VA-based school implemented the StoneFly Hybrid Storage Concentrator (HSC), an iSCSI SAN with 8 TB of capacity, after evaluating solutions from several vendors.

Cathy W. Evans, director of IT, said green initiatives on campus persuaded her to consider server virtualization in order to reduce energy consumption. When a storage server failed, Evans and her IT team used the opportunity to revamp its storage strategy. The campus hired Benchmark Systems, a Lynchburg consulting firm, to advise it during the selection process and help with the installation.

"They started the install at 5 p.m. on a Friday night, and by 8 p.m., they were done," said Evans. "Since going live, we've been extremely pleased with the ease of use of the system."

Using VMware, the IT group has leveraged the storage capacity of the IP SAN by making virtual copies of images stored on servers, providing the school with a second operational copy of the data. Within one month of installation, the school had virtualized four servers, and there are plans to transfer 12 additional server images to the SAN by year's end.

"We are projecting to achieve a return on investment with the HSC by the end of the year, if not before," said Evans. "The immediate savings has come with our ability to consolidate servers, avoid purchasing additional hardware and spend less money on power."

The HSC is now managing approximately 900 GB of data. In the future, the school plans to expand its business continuity initiatives by buying a second IP SAN for installation at on off-site or remote location, where data can be further replicated.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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