Resources Customer Case Studies

Healthcare: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Liverpool School of Medicine

Key Challenges

Existing storage environment was ageing and expensive to replace

  • No ability to scale out
  • No replication capabilities
  • Disaster recovery tests were time consuming
  • Existing infrastructure was complex and difficult to manage

Scale Computing Solution

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine selected Scale Computing’s HC3 cluster and a secondary disaster recovery cluster

Business Benefits

  • No licensing fees
  • Cost savings of over £80,000
  • Over a 50 per cent reduction in time management
  • Ability to replicate data
  • Quick and efficient disaster recovery testing
  • Added ability to scale out – no need to over provision storage
  • Data replication and complete business continuity

“The Scale solution is perfect for our environment. As well as simplified management, the face value of the Scale solution has saved us over £80,000. This is an amazing cost reduction and we can put this money to use elsewhere.” Matthew Underhill, IT Team Leader at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Established in 1898, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) was the first institution in the world dedicated to research and teaching in the field of tropical medicine. The school is a registered charity and has a worldwide reputation for delivering state of the art research combating tropical diseases. The school attracts over 600 students each year from 68 countries. As a leading international teaching institution, LSTM has been at the forefront of critical research into a number of tropical, infectious diseases including Malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

IT Challenges

With critical data and research projects in the pipeline, the school needed a robust IT solution, which was cost effective and simple to manage. Ensuing business continuity was also fundamental to the institution’s needs. With some research projects taking years, ensuring this vital information is backed up and protected is critical to the school’s reputation, and therefore imperative to the solution’s success.

LSTM initially built its IT environment using a Server BladeCenter chassis and SAN implementation utilising Microsoft’s Hyper-V failover cluster technology. Matthew Underhill, IT Team Leader at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine commented: “The environment was incredibly complex to manage and we were looking to improve our hardware. Our blade systems were over three years old and we needed to set up replication in order to guarantee disaster recovery capabilities. We couldn’t just buy another BladeCenter as it wouldn’t meet our requirements.”

The school would have needed to upgrade its primary storage and purchase an additional secondary solution for replication, which is an additional expense the institution could not afford. As a charity, LSTM is constantly looking to invest in cost effective solutions.

Searching for a new solution

Alongside cost and an aging environment, complexity was a huge challenge for the school. After deciding to upgrade its existing storage environment, LSTM looked for a platform that could reduce costs, simplify management and provide replication capabilities. “We wanted a platform that would allow us to replicate to our second data centre,” explained Underhill.

After evaluating the market for a new platform, LSTM considered both Nutanix and Scale Computing. “The Scale solution was perfect for our environment. We first encountered Scale Computing at SpiceWorld a networking event in London and after hearing the Scale team speak, I was immediately engaged,” commented Underhill. “We also visited Oxford University, a current Scale customer and after seeing first-hand how the Scale solution worked we were certain this was perfect for us.”

Underhill added: “When it came to the production install the Scale system was set up and running within four to five hours. Previously this would have taken us three to four days.”

Simplified management

Since deployment, the HC3 cluster has dramatically reduced management time by over 50 per cent and its simplicity has allowed LSTM to focus on other areas of business, saving the company both time and money. “With Scale, we don’t have to worry about the operating system, this is all taken care of for us,” said Underhill. “Previously if there was an issue with any of our servers we had to spend hours troubleshooting but Scale has completely streamlined this process and we don’t have to worry about the everyday management of our systems. The Scale HC3 cluster has completely simplified our infrastructure.”

Reduced costs

Alongside simplified management, LSTM has benefited from reduced IT costs. “The face value of the Scale solution has saved us over £80,000. This is an amazing cost reduction and we can put this money to use elsewhere,” added Underhill. “In addition to cost savings, we no longer need the knowledge or expertise to deal with growing complex systems, which was becoming a challenge.”


After opting for a disaster recovery cluster alongside the HC3 platform, LSTM now has the added benefit of replication. Through regular snapshots, back-up testing is simple and conducted regularly, allowing the institution to guarantee business continuity. Underhill concluded: “With Scale, we can now test our backups more regularly and can recover VMs within five minutes, ensuring we will be back up and running again in the event of a disaster.”