Customers

Selkirk College Graduates to Nutanix Enterprise Cloud

Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS on Dell EMC XC Enables Remote Canadian Community College to Simplify IT and Launch New VDI Initiative for Its Research Team.

BUSINESS BENEFITS

Selkirk College is having difficulty finding skilled IT resources willing to work at the college located in rural southeastern British Columbia. In moving to Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS on Dell EMC XC, and away from discrete hardware and VM hypervisor solutions, Selkirk has obtained an infrastructure solution that is easily managed by IT generalists. It enables a high performance infrastructure required to support more powerful modelling applications and a suite of new IT initiatives. It sets the table to scale and a platform for innovation in the future.

INDUSTRY

Higher Education

SOLUTION

Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform

  • Dell EMC XC running Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS Software
  • Acropolis built-in hypervisor, AHV

APPLICATIONS

  • Citrix XenDesktop
  • Moodle Course management system, file and print services, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Microsoft SQL databases, Oracle databases, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)

BENEFITS

  • Eliminated the need to hire additional IT specialists or work weekends through simplified management
  • Provided support for more powerful modeling programs at research center via launch of new VDI initiative
  • Gained the freedom to perform system updates anytime with non-disruptive one-click upgrades

CHALLENGE

Selkirk College’s legacy datacenter infrastructure environment was due for a refresh. The existing infrastructure was being used to support the college’s Moodle course management system (CMS), file and print services, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and several MS SQL databases. “One of our ongoing challenges is finding trained IT resources in our remote area,” explained Martin Fedec, IT infrastructure analyst at Selkirk College. “We’re a small regional college, located in interior British Columbia. Our closest big cities—Kelowna and Spokane—are more than three hours away. Finding skilled personnel to manage our aging SAN infrastructure, VMware ESXi hypervisor, and Novell environment was nearly impossible.”

The difficulty in finding resources was causing the college’s IT staff to work weekends to perform maintenance and system upgrades. “Only one person in our department was trained to manage the infrastructure. Whenever he went on vacation, it put our infrastructure at risk since no one else could troubleshoot the complex issues that might arise. We decided to look for a newer solution that could be managed by IT generalists.”

SOLUTION

Selkirk College made the decision to upgrade to Nutanix Enterprise Cloud running on Dell EMC XC in 2017. “Nutanix is the leader in hyper converged infrastructure, so the decision seemed sound. Once I saw the first demo, the interface blew me away,” Fedec reported. “Nutanix simplifies everything—from deploying nodes, to spinning up VMs, to performing non-disruptive software upgrades. We immediately knew we had picked the right solution for our college.”

An Easy Deployment

Selkirk College hired an IT consultant to help deploy the first Nutanix cluster. “We spent the first few hours configuring the network and imaging the nodes, and then hit the ‘start button,” reported Fedec. “When we came back from lunch, we had a fully operational Nutanix cluster. It was the simplest deployment I’ve been through with any IT infrastructure—ever.”

Fedec took advantage of the online Nutanix administration training courses before the initial install. “The Nutanix educational portal provided very in-depth information,” he said. “It explained how everything was put together and built, not just how to manage it. I’m glad I went through the training before the clusters were deployed. It enabled me to make maximum use of our consultant’s time, without having him teach me the basics.”

Enabling Disaster Recovery

Selkirk College now has two Nutanix clusters, one located at the college’s Nelson B.C. campus and the other at its Castlegar campus 40 kilometers away with a 10GB backbone between the two centers. “We replicate our VMs in both directions each night,” explained Fedec. “In the event of any issues or disasters, we now have backup capabilities ready to go.”

CUSTOMER OUTCOME

Lightning Fast Speed

Fedec’s colleagues were impressed with the speed of the Nutanix and Dell EMC solution. “I brought in another team member to use the Nutanix system, and he was blown away by how fast everything worked. You start deploying a VM, and in the blink of an eye, it’s up and running. And when you execute a snapshot, it takes less than one second with Nutanix.”

Management Simplicity and One-Click Upgrades

“Nutanix has eliminated all of the day-to-day management and worry about keeping the environment running,” noted Fedec. “The one-click upgrades are fantastic—I actually look forward to each new version of the software! The coolest thing is that I can now do everything in the middle of the day. I just hit ‘start’, and it upgrades the nodes sequentially without any downtime. It’s great to watch it load balance itself automatically, move things over, and then back. We have a small IT organization and eight campuses, so anywhere we can find time savings in maintenance and management, it’s a huge benefit for us.”

Switching to AHV

Selkirk College is also using AHV, the built-in Nutanix hypervisor. “AHV is fantastic,” Fedec said. “One of the things I wanted with the new IT solution, was one place to go to manage the environment. If we had chosen a different hypervisor, we’d have to login to a separate console to manage the VMs. With AHV and Prism Pro—I get a single pane of glass where I can manage the entire environment.”

Fedec has also deployed a self-service portal with AHV that enables other departments to spin up their own VMs. “That capability has been fantastic, because now I can ‘hand off the keys’ to other departments and they can do everything themselves. It’s nice not having to spin up VMs for people anymore.”

Power, Cooling, and Footprint Savings

By moving to Nutanix, Selkirk College has been able to consolidate its IT infrastructure from eight locations to just two data centers. “We expect to see a nice financial benefit after we finish migrating everything off of the physical boxes to Nutanix,” Fedec shared. “We’re moving our research department infrastructure over to Nutanix this summer, and will be decommissioning their two ESXi hosts. By consolidating everything into two locations, we’ll be able to save a lot on power, cooling, and datacenter footprint going forward.”

Enjoying Nutanix Support

Fedec had the opportunity to work with Nutanix Support during the initial installation. “It was the best support experience I’ve ever had,” he admitted. “Usually when you call a technical company’s support line, you get a ‘monotone robot person’ on the other end. With Nutanix, I got to work with this really nice, funny guy. He actually made the support experience enjoyable! And every time I’ve called support since the deployment, I’ve had the same experience. They’re pleasant to talk to, and they’ve been able to address all of my questions and issues right away.”

NEXT STEPS

LAUNCHING A NEW VDI SERVICE

“Nutanix is paving the way for us to offer new services that we couldn’t before, including a VDI deployment for our research team so they can process more 3-D and Geographic Information System (GIS) workloads,” said Fedec. “We also plan on launching Office 365 and a new ERP system later this year. Although it’s a cloud-based ERP solution, we’re going to have a secondary data set here. Nutanix gives us the ability to seamlessly leverage public cloud services with our own on-premise infrastructure.”

Providing Remote Student Learning Opportunities

“With our 10 GB backbone and robust network infrastructure, Dell EMC XC systems, and Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS on top of that, we will be able us to offer more remote educational services to our students in the future. Nutanix has enabled us to take a big step in maturing as an IT organization,” concluded Fedec.

Nutanix has enabled us to take a big step in maturing as an IT organization.

Martin Fedec, IT Infrastructure Analyst, Selkirk College