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Home»About Us »Company Profile »NCE News »Kirklees College gains flexibility and adherence using the DataCore Software-defined Storage platform, SANsymphony™-V10 solution, to position itself ahead of FELTAG recommendations.

Kirklees College gains flexibility and adherence using the DataCore Software-defined Storage platform, SANsymphony™-V10 solution, to position itself ahead of FELTAG recommendations.

Posted on Apr 22, 2015
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Kirklees College gains flexibility and adherence using the DataCore Software-defined Storage platform, SANsymphony™-V10 solution, to position itself ahead of FELTAG recommendations.

Kirklees College gains flexibility and adherence using the DataCore Software-defined Storage platform, SANsymphony™-V10 solution, to position itself ahead of FELTAG recommendations.

READING, UK., April 21, 2015 - DataCore Software, a leader and premier provider of Software-Defined Storage and Tier-1 Enterprise Storage Virtualisation, today announced that one of the UK's largest education colleges, Kirklees College in Yorkshire, continues to use DataCore's SANsymphony-V platform to provide its 20,000 full and part time students with a modern blended learning delivery environment akin to the findings of the 2014 FELTAG (Further Education Learning Technology Action Group) report recommendations. Alongside providing a flexible blending learning environment, Jonathan Wilkinson (Head of IT) and Simon Powell (Senior Storage Engineer) also provide ongoing delivery of the College's core business systems (Finance & Accounts; HR; Email; Microsoft SharePoint). The 2014 FELTAG report caused concern throughout the UK's 400 Further Education institutions, as it defined the need for IT to quickly remove any IT obstacles that may impede the progress of provisioning combined self-directed studies and traditional college based course delivery or risk losing IT funding. Jonathan notes:-

“Essentially, we were looking to build upon what had already been achieved using DataCore as a platform. The pace of change facing education is nothing short of a revolution in the way we facilitate our students. What needs to underpin this change is a watertight, expandable, system that allows us to grow capacity as needed and keep applications highly performant on a continuous basis. SANsymphony-V delivers the high-end storage services we need today and provides the flexibility for further growth in the future.”

The Challenge: Remove any IT obstacles in a rapidly transitioning infrastructure

Part of Kirklees College success in being at the forefront of this dual delivery lies with the flexible, always-on and ready to expand, software based IT infrastructure delivered through a fully functioning Storage Area Network (SAN). The decision to move toward Software- driven Storage actually occurred 8 years ago well ahead of the mainstream rush, to combat incidents of outages of their virtual servers through the deployment of the DataCore software. Then as the College expanded and merged, the DataCore storage virtualization platform continued to comfortably provide a scalable and robust platform for expansion and resilience.

In 2013, as part of a move to the new campus' data centre, DataCore Gold Partner, NCE recommended an overhaul of the original SAN infrastructure with new storage hardware from Nexsan's by Imation® storage family together with an upgrade to DataCore's SANsymphony™-V10 enhanced software-defined software platform for full future proofing and latest feature sets.

The Solution: SANsymphony-V10 on campus and Disaster Recovery site plus high-speed write acceleration

The resultant on-site dual mirrored DataCore SANsymphony-V10 nodes were installed on Dell PowerEdge servers in the data centre, with a third synchronous node housed off-site, approximately 10km away in the Dewsbury campus for Disaster Recovery purposes. Now, fully armed with the ability to perform additional operations such as Random Write Acceleration to speed transactional processing and DR snapshots that ensure replication of data on a real time basis, the team could relax in the knowledge that they are flexibly enabled for many years to come. Simon comments:-

“There are some neat features in the upgraded DataCore solution that we have noted. We now use Random Write acceleration to reduce the storage overhead as it produces faster storage-friendly sequential writes at our busy data mining times. Auto Tiering now also automates and allocates the data seamlessly and even though we hope that we will never need a full Disaster Recovery scenario, we are confident that we are now well placed to so.”

The Benefits: transparent High Availability and Performance for underlying Nexsan by Imation storage hardware

Indeed, the College now fully utilize DataCore's Auto Tiering feature to ensure the most appropriate and efficient element of the Nexsan by Imation storage is served to each application. For example, files from FileShare are allocated to lower performance SATAbeasts; whilst the college's critical accounting data interrogated from the SQL Server database is auto tiered and promoted to a higher performing storage tier housed in the Nexsan by Imation E60 architecture for superfast transactional processing across the College. Effective and automated allocation of data to the most appropriate store continues to lower the cost per TB at the College.

Maintenance is also now more effectively orchestrated. Given that students have campus access year round and until 10:00pm each night, planned downtime for maintenance, to introduce new firmware, or to provision new virtual machines is no longer required as the College now simply takes down one side of the mirror at leisure, apply the update and then resumes full dual node service.

Flexibility of the solution is a key attribute to the College. DataCore opens up choices through its full agnostic approach to hardware provision, taking stranded storage capacity into free space and has allowed the team a more bullish approach to selecting the most appropriate vendor without fear of future lock in when the hardware warranty expires. Flexibility is also paramount in considering the way that the college caters for students' learning preferences under FELTAG recommendations.

“It is true that lots of solutions claim to offer resilience, but there are few solutions on the market that could offer us the total peace of mind that DataCore offers, and has done so for many years. Once installed, SANsymphony-V is a transparent software layer that you can fine tune as you go along without fear of failure, downtime or a dramatic overhaul to the infrastructure or College budget. We wouldn't face the future without it.” Jonathan Wilkinson, Head of IT, Kirklees College

John Greenwood, NCE and Jonathan Wilkinson, Kirklees College will be hosting a Joint webinar on overcoming the challenges of FELTAG. Register interest and download a full copy of the report at

About DataCore Software

DataCore is a pioneer in Software-Defined Storage. The company's proven storage virtualization and virtual SAN solutions empower organizations to seamlessly manage and scale their data storage architectures, delivering infrastructure agility, mission critical resilience, and operational simplicity through a comprehensive platform providing Tier-1 Enterprise storage capabilities. In a complex world of 24x7 application services, DataCore painlessly delivers more data faster.

*Compatibility certification via Interoperability Verification Testing and Cisco Validated Design is designed to simulate typical customer configurations and does not replace the need for on-site testing and interoperability validation in conjunction with actual implementation.

Read the full case study here.

Case Study NCE in Education

NCE in Education

One of our many long-standing customers is one the biggest colleges in the UK (with over 1,000 staff and in excess of 20,000 students)

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