Business college updates IT to cope with new computing curriculum

New Mills School, the business and enterprise college, has updated its IT infrastructure to support a new computing curriculum.


New Mills School, the business and enterprise college, has updated its IT infrastructure to support a new computing curriculum.

A key element to the new computing framework focuses on the creation of technology, rather than its use, including teaching students to code.

Whereas previously installing new programming applications was difficult due to a slow network and "complications with Windows XP", the school is now able to deploy and run any application easily.

Historically, the school’s PC network was run on RM Community Connect 3 (CC3), a proprietary management layer built on top of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

With the imminent end of support for Windows XP by Microsoft in April 2014, the school needed to upgrade away from XP.

The school had two options - upgrade to Community Connect 4 (CC4), which would continue to be supported under contract by RM, or replace the server infrastructure with a "vanilla" install.

To avoid vendor lock-in, said the college, it decided to opt for a vanilla route, deploying a standard Windows set up where it would "regain control".

The school turned to Stone Infrastructure Services to support the design and implementation of the project. The first phase was the install of Windows Server 2008 and 2012 to host the entire network.

VMware vSphere virtualisation also sits directly on top of these physical servers, meaning that multiple virtual servers can run on each physical server simultaneously, making the system an "extremely powerful and future proofed investment", the college said.

Through virtualisation, instead of buying lots of additional physical servers, the college says it has saved around £55,000.

And with the introduction of two new Dot Hill storage area networks (SANs), the college network is now capable of holding up to 32TB of information compared to the 500GB capacity of the previous solution.

Also, network performance is much quicker. Category 6 cable has been installed that has increased transfer speeds from 100Mbps to 1Gbps. A faster, larger and more reliable network means that the school is set for an impending new computing curriculum in 2014.

Keith Lutener, network manager at New Mills School, said: “The benefits have been remarkable. Behind the scenes we have a new and improved network that is extremely powerful and also delivers fantastic end user results. The students are offered the latest applications and can access these quickly which improves productivity.”

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