University of Kansas Medical Center improves performance of administrative systems while helping secure campus with a scalable, unified Nutanix platform.
University of Kansas Medical Center's mission is to improve lives and communities in Kansas and beyond through innovation in education, research and health care. With campuses in Kansas City, Salina and Wichita, the university also has partnerships with clinical affiliates and educational partners in communities across the state.
The University relies on its network infrastructure to support campus telecommunications, physical security and surveillance, and tools and databases for its academic departments. When the organization’s three-tier architecture began to show its age, the University migrated to the Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure, working closely with its technology partner, Choice Solutions. Choice Solutions provides the expertise, services, and solutions to help business and IT leaders adopt simpler, more secure IT environments to best suit the unique needs of their growing business.
The Nutanix solution lets the University bring its separate systems together onto one hyperconverged infrastructure that’s easy to monitor, manage, and scale out.
The new video surveillance environment from Honeywell resides on Nutanix can scale easily to support additional bandwidth and storage, for better quality video that supports a safer campus environment.
|Efficient processes||Streamlined management||Improved campus security|
|Centralized solution improves efficiency of reporting, physical security applications, and other processes.
||Central point of visibility and control on HCI helps IT team respond faster and scale resources.||Scalable support for high-quality campus surveillance cameras strengthens safety in public spaces.
Our video surveillance system is important to physical security on campus, and we often need to add capacity and bandwidth. Nutanix makes it easy to grow the system and provide more resources as they are needed.
The University of Kansas Medical Center IT team, led by Jeff Blomendahl set the university up for success seven years ago when they began their Nutanix journey. Jeff was dealing with complicated upgrades and support issues in his legacy 3-tier environment when Choice Solutions introduced him to Nutanix. Fast forward to 2021, he continued to innovate by moving their campus video surveillance system to Nutanix. Jeff clearly communicated what was required to make this change and worked closely with Choice Solutions to get it implemented. The university saw major improvements in video resolution and overall performance of the system after the change was made.
The University of Kansas Medical Center looks to its IT team to provide support for its most critical academic, administrative, and security systems all across campus. But like many organizations, the team is under constant pressure to do more with less. As the University infrastructure grew and became more complex, even day-to-day management tasks became headaches.
“We have a small team managing everything,” said Jeff Blomendahl, IT Manager at University of Kansas Medical Center. “One of the issues we would run into with storage and the fiber channel fabric was that whenever we had to do an upgrade on one piece, everything else had to be upgraded. Even a simple upgrade to the SAN often required a lot of prep work.”
When its three-tier architecture began to near its end of life, Blomendahl and his team began exploring upgrade options. “The network fabric was getting old, and I was invited to a meeting at our hospital with Choice Solutions, our technology partner, who introduced us to Nutanix. The solution looked like it could solve our problems and simplify things quite a bit. So we started with a small cluster, and it grew. As we aged out our compute and storage, we just moved them over to Nutanix.”
Collaborating with Choice Solutions, Blomendahl and his team replaced the organization’s storage, compute, and networking components with a single hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) from Nutanix. Choice Solutions recommended a solution that would best meet the University’s needs and assisted with installing and supporting the environment.
“We've been working with Choice Solutions since 2015, when we put our first clusters in,” said Blomendahl. “They’ve been very helpful with purchasing equipment and getting everything installed and up to speed. We’re really pleased with our partners.”
Building on its Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure, the University steadily expanded its deployment to more than 40 nodes across the campus. Nutanix Prism simplifies management with a user-friendly, centralized interface that helps IT streamline workflows. The University continues to maintain a significant VMware deployment, but has been steadily updating its environment to the native Nutanix AHV hypervisor to minimize licensing costs.
Nutanix provides support for administrative databases, telecommunications, and Honeywell video surveillance systems. Adding storage and capacity to the solution is simple, which makes it easier for IT to keep up with new demands and applications.
“It's really easy to scale up our Nutanix solution,” said Blomendahl. “You just add a node and it's ready to go. We’re not having to deal with multiple LUNs out there for everything to talk to. Nutanix is just basically a lot flatter. If we start running out of storage, we throw another node on and build it out. We're no longer constantly rearranging storage.”
The scalable Nutanix solution has helped make life easier for the University’s IT team, and is contributing to a safer campus community. Blomendahl can easily expand the capacity and bandwidth on video surveillance systems that are used by the campus police department to maintain security—and support more upgrades as needed.
“We’re using a Honeywell solution, and the system initially had a few hundred cameras on it,” said Blomendahl. “We added more and more cameras over the years, and have expanded from six to ten camera servers from six to ten, while maintaining performance. Now we’re in the process of migrating to a new surveillance system, and it’s great having it all virtualized on Nutanix. We can build up new servers and kind of migrate stuff over without really impacting the system.”
The Nutanix solution has also dramatically accelerated performance on databases, enabling administrators to do their jobs more effectively.
“Our main SQL cluster was sitting on HP blade servers that were attached to fiber channel disc arrays, and over the process of about a year or so, we migrated everything off of there,” said Blomendahl. “And as we started moving stuff over to our new cluster, my database administrator (DBA) was just amazed at how much faster things were. People were calling him up and saying they thought something was wrong, because their reports finished up so fast. Part of the reason was our move to an all-flash cluster, but even on our hybrid clusters, we're seeing really good performance on the virtual machines.”
Improved efficiency also enables the University’s IT team to do more with less.
“We’ve saved a considerable amount of time,” said Blomendahl. “My full-time employee (FTE) count in my group hasn't increased since it was created back in 2013. We still have myself and four people, while our virtual environment has quadrupled or quintupled. From a management perspective, we wouldn't be able to do that with the three-tier system.”
A more efficient IT team has also led to better support for campus researchers and instructors, by giving them access to the tools they need, fast.
“If a researcher needs a server to analyze data, we can spin it up really quickly for them to get them up and running fast,” Blomendahl. “It’s much faster and less complex than purchasing a physical server, especially with some of the current supply chain issues we are facing.”
The Nutanix solution was built to evolve and scale, and Blomendahl and his team are exploring new directions to take their scalable platform, including disaster recovery (DR) support, and replacing more components of its infrastructure with Nutanix Files, for smarter, more scalable storage.
The University is also evaluating Nutanix flow to help enhance security through workload segmentation.
Nutanix has provided a new level of flexibility for University of Kansas Medical Center, and its IT team is confident in its ability to continue to support researchers, students, and administrators well into the future.
“The service and support that we get from Nutanix and Choice Solutions is very good—I cannot say enough about it,” said Blomendahl.