WHIPTAIL schools education sector in the delivery of classroom IT productivity

WHIPTAIL, the data storage-industry innovator powering faster and more energy-efficient computing for today’s global businesses via flash storage, has helped two UK schools improve the hardware and application performance of their new virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) using its ACCELA Flash storage arrays. The technology provides highly scalable Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS), ensuring that educational institutions such as Kenton and St Wilfrid’s are equipped to handle the increased data transfer demands of virtualised environments.

Technology that can boost performance in these areas is in strong demand in educational institutions, where it is increasingly common for pupils to participate in lessons on individual laptops each owned by the school. This creates challenges for IT managers, as hardware and application performance suffers with widespread simultaneous activity – a problem compounded by the high IOPS demands of VDI, which is increasingly being rolled out in schools as an alternative to justifying the expense of upgrading or replacing outdated hardware.

Paul Kernohan, Network Manager at Kenton School in Newcastle upon Tyne, emphasised the need to balance high performance and quality of end-user experience with value for money:

“With so many users performing IT tasks simultaneously, our storage needs to be able to handle massive peaks and troughs in IOPS. Our top priorities are speed and the ability to meet the IOPS demands of our new VMware view VDI. But we were conscious of the need to future-proof our infrastructure to justify spending public money. We looked at hybrid hard-disk/solid-state drives (HDD/SSD), but their IOPS performance was no improvement. Once we decided on SSD, WHIPTAIL was the only supplier we considered: no other product delivers such high performance, and the scalability of the ACCELA means we won’t need to rip it out when we convert more of our storage to SSD.”

At St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and Sixth Form College in Wakefield, teachers complained to ICT Manager Chris Slater that they wasted up to 30 minutes per lesson waiting for the whole class to log on. Reluctant to commit to the recurring cost and inconvenience of replacing or upgrading classroom hardware, Slater deployed a VMware view VDI powered by a WHIPTAIL ACCELA array, and the benefits of Flash storage have been immediately obvious:

“We currently have 60 virtual machines, but we plan to increase this to 600. VDI also lets us keep 60 desktops that would otherwise be nearing the end of their life this academic year – and there will be plenty more in the future. The storage product we use needs to offer the right blend of speed, capacity, and scalability. When evaluating suppliers, we found that many sacrificed too much speed by providing broader functionality: we would be adding boxes every year, taking the long-term cost of ownership way beyond our budget. WHIPTAIL was the only logical choice. Class log-on time is down to only four minutes, and virtual PCs are much easier to support, as we can resolve issues remotely without disrupting students’ work. And we are saving time and money by not having to replace the old classroom hardware.”

Brian Feller, VP and General Manager of WHIPTAIL EMEA, predicts substantially increased uptake of SSD in the education sector:

“As more institutions deploy VDI to reduce the traditionally high turnover and cost of hardware, they will increasingly rely on SSDs to provide the necessary resilience to highly demanding IOPS requirements. IT managers will soon realise that traditional HDDs are no longer equipped to deliver the quality of end-user experience expected when young people’s educations are at stake.”

WHIPTAIL are a silver sponsor at Whitehall Media’s Enterprise Cloud Computing and Virtualization conference, which is to be held at the Hotel Russell on 7th March 2013.