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Scale Computing provides simplified management in a cost-effective hyperconverged solution for Sweyne Park School

Key Challenges

  • Legacy IT system reaching its end of service
  • Reduced budget for IT
  • Limited IT staff on hand to manage and maintain IT systems
  • Future proof to avoid a new system reaching end of service again and needing to be replaced

Scale Computing Solution

Sweyne Park School selected Scale Computing’s HC3 4000 cluster with future plans for a secondary cluster for replication, backup and disaster recovery.

Key applications running on Scale Computing’s HC3 platform

  • Sims.net & FMS (school Management Systems)
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft SCCM
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Microsoft ADFS
  • File Servers
  • Libra ESVA

Business Benefits

  • No licensing fees
  • Cost savings on electricity with lower power consumption
  • Ability to easily scale-out without disruption
  • Future proof scalability
  • Pipelined option to easily add an additional cluster on secondary site for backup and disaster recovery
  • Simplified management

Sweyne Park School – a successful academy school

Sweyne Park School is an academy school based in Rayleigh, Essex, attended by 1,600 11-18 year olds, with a core aim to secure pupil success. The school focuses its time and effort solely on the development of its students, valuing partnerships between school and family, and taking care to ensure the school environment and its resources promote outstanding learning.

Existing IT environment

Sweyne Park School was running on VMware with Hitachi storage hardware AMS 2100. While the school’s IT team were familiar with VMware, it came with licensing fees that were expensive. To add to this the AMS, which was the school’s entire storage system, had come to its end of its service life. This meant any downtime would have been a major challenge for the whole school with the IT team unable to attain serviceable parts.

Dan Joslin, Systems Manager for Rayleigh Schools Trust, including Sweyne Park School, commented, “With our system coming to its end of service life we decided to take the opportunity early to research and find a new, more cost-effective solution – this way we could perform the migration in good time before the support on the old system ran out.”

Challenges in the education sector

IT underpins the operations of every school, from the tills in the lunch hall to SIMS for the MIS system. To add to the pressures facing the educational sector, all departments are seeing tighter budgets. This makes a complete IT storage upgrade a very challenging task. With this in mind, Sweyne Park School turned to its trusted partner, Neuways, part of the Neustro Group, for advice and recommendation on a solution that would fit the school’s needs and budget.   

After discussing the end of service issue, services and performance required, and the necessary price point, Neuways recommended a hyperconverged solution. Sweyne Park School then evaluated the market and looked at Dell Vertex and Nutanix, but found they were expensive and the school simply did not have flexibility in the budget available - this is when Neuways introduced the school to Scale Computing.

Michelle Catterall, Business Development Director at Neuways, part of the Neustro Group commented, “Sweyne Park School is a longstanding client of ours and we fully understand the challenges they are facing as a large school with a restricted budget. We are pleased to work with Scale Computing and have the HC3 platform in our portfolio because it fits perfectly with schools like Sweyne Park School and other organisations faced with budget constraints. The HC3 platform offers excellent performance, scalability and flexibly and at price point that works for any budget, meaning organisations like Sweyne Park School don’t have to compromise.”

Proof of Concept

After running a successful proof of concept for a couple of weeks the School decided to move forward with the HC3 platform, with the option to add an additional cluster at a secondary site for backup and disaster recovery in the future.

Dan Joslin commented, “From the moment we decided to look into Scale Computing we really gained confidence in them. Not all of the vendors we evaluated were accommodating and open to a demo or proof of concept, but Scale Computing were completely honest and upfront about platform’s performance and price, and within days we had a demo kit to try before making our final decision. This meant before putting any money down we were sure that the solution could do what we needed, which gave us huge peace of mind. Neuways were a tremendous help throughout this process. They were very attentive and took the time to come to the School as well as working with the solution itself in case we had any questions. When it came to making a decision, moving forward with Scale Computing was the obvious choice.”

Deployment

After deciding to move forward with the deployment the next task for the school was to install, migrate and then decommission the old system. It was critical that this migration did not disturb or interrupt the day-to-day running of the school. As a managed security support provider, partner Neuways, was on hand to support the school throughout the implementation. Within three weeks the school was completely up and running having transferred or recreated 37 virtual machines.

Dan Joslin added, “It just so happened that during the deployment and migration phase we separately were taking over the IT infrastructure and support for the primary school that is in our MAT. This could have been a complicated process but the HC3 deployment was so simple, it was just a case of starting it up on the server, walking away, coming back and it was done. The process couldn’t have been easier or more successful. This meant we had the time to focus on the primary school while the deployment took care of itself.”

Benefits and planning for the future

Since deployment the HC3 cluster has performed beyond expectations, with simplified infrastructure management and more space in the rack.

Dan Joslin stated, “At the start our only reservation was that a system this simple couldn’t possibly do what we needed – but after using it I would now never look back and my reservations have completely disappeared. The solution is reliable and we can do everything we need on it. We are also benefiting from having more space in our rack as the solution is very compact.”

The previous AMS solution had to additional trays taking up 12U in the cab together with three 2U servers. With the new solution Sweyne Park School has also seen a cost saving in electricity bills due to the lower power consumption of the HC3 platform.

Dan Joslin concluded, “We couldn’t be happier with our deployment, it is so easy and simple to manage, it is space and energy saving, and performance-wise it is spot on. We would recommend Scale Computing’s solution to any education body – the HC3 platform is true value for money.”