Logicalis has become the first commercial supplier to connect directly into Janet at the nuts and bolts level, offering data centre and cloud services to the entire education community. Their offering is already paying dividends in its installation at Loughborough University.
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Chris Gabriel, Director of Solutions and Marketing at Logicalis, says the company has been a supplier of ICT solutions and services to the HE and FE sector for many years, mostly with services on site: for example networks, infrastructures, data centres, and telephony. However, with the growing demand for and acceptance of delivered applications and infrastructure, its data centre strategy took a new turn. Logicalis’s new high-density data centre opened officially in June 2010, along with the launch of its cloud services.
From the outset, says Chris, it was considered vital to leverage JANET’s footprint and investment and unique offering to the community.
“It really is of strategic importance to us to be a part of the Janet community. Janet is one of the forefathers of the shared service model and a fantastic ITC services market. It provides an audience of potential customers connected to a service that is capable and large enough to cope with the kind of services we want to deliver. To access our service we don’t have to put infrastructure on site. Providers can host a service on our cloud, then tell customers it is already available – simply subscribe to it. Janet is a unique market place.”
Simon Daykin, CTO of Logicalis, adds: “Janet is the de facto choice to interact with HE and FE customers, and the ability to interact with these customers natively is really important. Alternatives like building dedicated point-to-point networks simply don’t make sense when there is access to such a high quality and high reach network as Janet.”
Chris says, “We offer the education sector an extended connection rather than just a single connection to a single university. Infrastructure and storage are already available. If a university requires a high power computing environment and struggles to do it on their own premises due to power constraints, Logicalis has more power than we know what to do with and the ability to deliver it in a single rack. Our high density, high powered data centre can support up to 32kw racks in any location.”
Simon Daykin adds that extending the Janet connection down to the rack is easily done – it is native to the Logicalis platform. “The infrastructure service platform provides a fully virtualised network onto which Logicalis can put multiple logical networks, which can then be distributed down to individual customers’ environments. The Janet link terminates within the Logicalis “network as a service” platform so that when a customer requests a service such as a port in the rack, or a logical service such as computing or storage, we can stand those services up, natively connected to Janet, very quickly and easily.”
To sign up, says Chris, universities are invited simply to “phone up Logicalis and order a rack. The Janet connection is then taken down to that organisation’s rack. The data centre and cloud infrastructure are already there as predefined services. Applications can be hosted very simply: for instance a university can administer its own Moodle application but it is hosted on our server, giving the university access to storage space. We just feed and water their infrastructure for them. It is a very simple subscription model whether for hosting, co-location, cloud or future applications.”
Logicalis is also working with independent software vendors and the end user community within the HE and FE establishment. “If five universities in a region want a data centre service they we can work with them on a model,” says Chris, “whether it’s building something discretely for them in the Logicalis data centre or they take the data centre service themselves. We can also identify the top applications that are being used – the ones they are each separately building their own infrastructure for – and work with software providers to put it on the Logicalis cloud. This can then be taken as a service too.”
“In the Loughborough model, the network will be used to send data back and forth between two different data centres, which means a different traffic pattern. This is where dialogues will be key as they will change the dynamics of how Janet is used and how the community takes its service. It is a mash-up of ideas and interests leading to new ways of working: for instance, a university managing its own cloud service could manage another’s too.”
Simon describes this as “a shift in IT service delivery”. Organisations can avoid the significant costs of running their own data centres and running and managing infrastructure. Loughborough avoided a multi-million pound project to replace its own data centre by standing up an onsite cloud in a micro environment mini pod, integrated with Logicalis’s data centre for future growth and capacity burst. Precise savings would depend on what costs are being used: a university in central London would find it hard to get power and space while that may not be a problem for a university further out.”
“All customers so far have expressed significant interest, though our offering has only just launched. A number of universities have seen Logicalis’s investment in the Janet link as a key indicator: it gives confidence to these organisations that Logicalis is a provider they can trust to invest in these areas. Investment in data centres, services and the Janet link is very high. Customers see the clear advantage of thinking in new ways about how they can think about data centres, and a clear route to doing so.”
Logicalis will continually make further investments in service delivery capability, says Simon. “This is not just a flash in the pan, this is a strategic direction. Further platform capabilities will be made available through data centres and connections. The ability for universities to take IT as a service and have platforms on which they can truly deliver shared services is vitally important. This will provide the cost savings and quality and availability of IT service delivery that these organisations need.
“Moodle is a good example of organisations looking for ways to deliver critical applications to a user base on and off campus. We are also thinking about hosting shared platforms for shared services such as back office systems, and staff email systems across the spectrum.”
Extract from Janet News – April 2011