Server Upgrade Gets an A+

I went to Georgia (the US state not the country) for the first time last week. The state’s reputation for great BBQ and fried food is well deserved, so I was not disappointed! But, I wasn’t there just to eat well. I went to visit the Brookwood School and learn more about their server upgrade. I went with a video crew to capture their upgrade of 180 PCs and 4 servers. I’ll be sharing the footage soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some key learnings while the experience is still fresh (and fried) on my mind.

Familiar pain points get a failing grade
The school’s resident Technology Coordinator (and a calculus teacher) Keith Massey, described the situation before the upgrade, and it was not pretty:

- Slow response times from the email and database servers
- Corrupted Operating System
- Servers would shut down and wouldn’t start again
- Constant risk of losing critical data

Server management also provided some challenges:

- No dedicated IT staff. Responsibility for IT was shared between several department heads. This team of individuals was saddled with the job of maintaining the network along with their normal jobs of running the school.
- Management of the existing system of servers was complex, often requiring specialized skill sets for different brands of servers, and an increasing amount of time was spent “dealing” with each individual physical server.
- No remote support. There was no single source of out-of-band management capability for existing servers.  If work needed to be performed, it had to be done onsite, which was a big waste of the staff’s limited time.
- Growing needs for IT support. As the servers aged, the demand on the IT staff had grown exponentially, stealing time from their regular jobs.

Multiple Choice: what should the school do?
(a) Upgrade the Server Performance
(b) Virtualize the Servers
(c)  Adopt Managed Services
(d) All of the above

Jason Bellflowers, CEO of Virtual World Technologies, an Intel® Channel Partner and a managed services provider, conducted a complete network evaluation and performance analysis. Besides the day-to-day issues, he realized some servers were underutilized while others were dangerously overtaxed.

Bellflowers recommended virtualizing the servers to allocate the workload among virtual servers. He chose the latest Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 family for their reliability, intelligent performance and flexible virtualization, and the Intel® Modular Server for the ease of management and built-in expandability for future growth. The server upgrade was done practically overnight and was transparent for the end users. And now Virtual World is managing Brookwood’s PCs and servers, which has lifted a huge burden off the shoulders of the school’s staff.

Study these benefits and earn better ROI
The testimony to the success of Brookwood’s server upgrade came from Mike Notaro, the school’s headmaster, “I don’t hear about the servers anymore.” He appreciates this, because as he says, “We are in the business of education, not in the business of IT!”
With the upgrade:
- Teachers, faculty and staff can focus on educating students instead of fixing IT issues
- Users benefited from a dramatic increase in the server response time
- The server virtual solution cost was 30% less than a 1:1 server replacement
- They saved on the electric bill

Your homework: Do a network assessment
Contact a trusted Intel solution provider today to have your IT situation assessed:

They can help you identify the right solution for your needs. And don’t forget, investing in Intel-based servers is smart and the advantages will add up.

January video Brookwood 2.JPGMr. Notaro at his desk during the videoshoot.