Anamosa Community School District (Anamosa CSD) is a progressive school district serving a 134 square mile area in Jones County and eastern Linn County in Iowa. The district has adopted a vision to develop and implement strategies that balance technology with social interaction and community. With a new middle school under construction, the organization looked to implement a new IT infrastructure that would continue them down the virtualization path of consolidating their physical server environment
Anamosa CSD looked at the new middle school as an opportunity to implement a state-of-the-art infrastructure that could eventually be used as a template for upgrading their aging environment at the high school and other existing locations. At the time, they were running mainly Windows-based servers on Hyper-V at the high school location and physical servers at the elementary school. As a forward-looking organization, the scalability of the ultimate solution for these future deployment plans was very important in the selection process, but it ranked below the need for high availability of the Virtual Machines (VMs) in the environment and the simplicity of the overall system. For the small IT department of one to stay efficient and effective in managing the infrastructure for the entire district, the VMs would need to failover automatically in the event of a hardware failure and the system as a whole would need to be capable of remote management from a single pane of glass.
The expansive build-out required the assistance of the district’s trusted advisor, Infrastructure Technology Solutions (ITS), to help guide them through both the research and implementation of the solution.
Virtualization Environment Requirements:
- Highly Available VMs
- Simple-to-use system
- Scalable to match districts future purchasing plans
- Affordable End-to-End Solution
Challenge: Maintaining Simplicity With A Do-It Yourself Virtualization Solution
To meet the requirements of High Availability and Scalability, the Director of Technology, Roy Carter looked at a typical Do-It-Yourself deployment of Hyper-V coupled with brand name host servers and an HP storage array as shared storage. Unfortunately, that solution brought with it the combination of added complexity with a high price tag:
- The complexity introduced to maintain high availability for the virtual machines would have been overwhelming for Anamosa CSD to implement and manage even with the help of ITS. This type of deployment would require intimate knowledge of the hypervisor selected as well as the shared storage required for features like live migration and failover.
- When you added the licensing costs and additional hardware needed, the pricing associated with the Hyper-V solution all of a sudden became higher than expected for this approach. In Roy’s words, “pricing was significantly higher when we tried to go that route.”
Having had some experience with VMware, Ted Fisher recalled, “With VMware, even if there were an issue with the Hypervisor, someone on the phone support could always blame the 3rd party.” Triton feared implementing such a complex environment without a single vendor responsible for support.
Solution: Hyperconverged Platform That Integrates Resources For Automation and Simplicity
Anamosa CSD was then introduced to Scale Computing’s HC3 system – a hyper-converged ‘datacenter-in-a-box’ that combines servers, storage, and virtualization into a single, highly available, easy-to-use and scalable platform that removes the complexity of a typical virtualization deployment.
Simple:By converging the infrastructure in the virtualized environment, Anamosa CSD would be able to manage their entire stack from a single user interface accessible through any standard browser that supports HTML 5. Having been created for businesses with limited IT budget and resources, ease-of-use is a core tenant of the HC3 design.
” As an organization with limited IT resources, HC3 allows me to manage my environment with ease,” said Roy Carter, Director of Technology. “I can now manage the entire system remotely without having to run around to each physical machine.”
Available:Every virtual machine created on an HC3 system is automatically configured for high availability meaning that in the event of hardware failure, the VMs running on the failed node will failover to the remaining nodes in the cluster automatically.
“Because of the self-healing nature of HC3, I can now focus on the networking and printer projects [two unexpected projects] that have just cropped up,” continued Roy.
Scalable: HC3 allowed the district to pay for what they needed on day one, knowing that the system would grow alongside their virtual environment and business needs in the future. With HC3, there are no upfront costs or licensing complexities. If they need to grow, they simply add more nodes. No rip and replace, no expensive complex systems, no headaches.
“With the successful implementation of HC3 at the middle school, we immediately started planning the replacement of our aging Hyper-V deployment at the high school,” said Roy.
That plan came to fruition almost a year after running HC3 in production at the middle school. Anamosa CSD purchased a second HC3 system and utilized the native replication built into HC3 to replicate the data between the middle school and the high school locations.
“We initially chose HC3 because of the integrated approach and we continue to be happy with our decision,” concluded Roy.