Building literate and economically strong communities and businesses for today and for tomorrow is the mission of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). They do that through affordable technical education, adult education, and business and industry training for more than 100,000 students at 22 colleges and 85 campus locations spread across the state. Behind the scenes, TCSG utilizes the latest technology to centralize support through converged infrastructure and simplified IT management, enabling nonstop access to student information and online courses to ensure they meet their mission.
According to Daniel Black, TCSG’s System Office Director of Engineering, in the past, this centralized support was nearly impossible. Every college used its own mix of network, compute, and storage technologies in its data center. For Black and his team, that meant they were supporting 22 different architectures and dozens of technology vendors to provide the critical IT support for each college in the system.
“Maintenance costs were skyrocketing,” explains Black. “And with every school running different hardware, it became harder and harder for our small, centralized agency to help.”
In 2011, TCSG started deploying FlexPod across its campuses and locations. FlexPod integrates NetApp® storage, Cisco UCS servers, and Cisco Nexus switches into a validated, enterprise-class IT platform. This change has saved TCSG $550,000 a year on legacy hardware maintenance.
In addition, with the FlexPod solution, TCSG’s System Office team now uses a common toolbox, allowing them to manage increasing responsibilities while keeping the staff small.
“Having a common support platform has enabled us to cross-train almost all the members of the IT department so that they provide a consistent level of support and can confidently take on more duties,” Black says.
Moving to a converged infrastructure solution has enabled TCSG’s colleges to standardize on a validated architecture while retaining the flexibility to build the data centers that they want — adding storage, servers, and switches as needed. They also lower costs by reducing storage requirements through efficiency technologies, such as deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning.
TCSG also now has a robust solution to support students’ needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with NetApp ONTAP® software. It delivers non-disruptive operations with zero downtime for maintenance and upgrades.
In the future, TCSG is planning to implement a new standard for backup and recovery across its 22 colleges. Instead of backing up to tape, each college will soon back up data to a centralized location by using SnapMirror® technology, simplifying management, reducing costs, and increasing reliability.
Want to learn more? Click here to read the full TCSG case study.