, Feb 14, 2014
Logicalis has completed a comprehensive IT infrastructure overhaul for Birmingham City University. The project, which commenced in 2012, included the design and deployment of two onsite data centres, wired and wireless network for staff and students, and the rollout of Cisco Unified Communications Manager for 4000 users. The project, part of the University’s £180 million investment in new facilities, will provide an agile IT architecture to support long-term innovation and evolving service expectations from staff and students.
Shaun Buffery, Associate Director for Converged Infrastructure at the University, led the project: “We see our infrastructure as key to our success as a University. Nowadays, you’re not only competing on the level of education students will receive, but also facilities and services. This new infrastructure will not only adapt to innovation in student technology and teaching resources, but also enable staff to be more collaborative with one another and with the students.”
Deliberately choosing to simultaneously overhaul the University’s data centre, network and telephony requirements, the intention was to weave a strong, complementary IT architecture that delivers immediate performance and financial benefits. It is expected to significantly improve network speed, performance and capacity, as well as reduce operational maintenance allowing the University to redeploy valuable IT skills elsewhere.
Dean England led the re-design and implementation of the two data centres, which kick-started the ambitious project. He comments: “With a reference data centre architecture, the IT team is able to work more efficiently day-to-day. We’ve reduced server sprawl, increased utilization, and can already see savings in energy expenditure.”
Logicalis worked with the University to redesign the entire data centre provision, including the physical data centre estate, with a highly consolidated and resilient server and storage architecture. The deployment of ultra efficient data centre operations alongside a new campus wide wired and wireless LAN, have positively impacted the University’s disaster recovery strategy, enabling advanced back-up and de-dupe functionality, and improved storage and archive policies. The network now also provides the bandwidth to support increasing demand from mobile devices and rich media applications.
The ability to adapt to changing technology use, particularly at student level, is especially important to England; “How students consume information is continually evolving and we have to keep pace. Today, this means providing fast and secure access to e-learning tools and resources, from anywhere and any device. Tomorrow, they’ll probably be writing their own applications to aid the education process. We’re confident our network will adapt.”
The Cisco Unified Communications Manager, only recently completed, will support 4000 administrative and teaching staff. “The converged telephony solution will allow staff to become more independent, giving them greater opportunity to engage with students via multiple channels and manage admin tasks on the move,” says Buffery, adding “this means less time tied to their office and more time face-to-face with students.”
Buffery concludes: “Logicalis has provided us with a foundation that will adapt with our needs and help the university achieve its mission to provide a business-class learning experience for its students. Logicalis has clearly established itself as our partner in this journey.”
The overhaul by Birmingham City University, and the rationale for such a significant project, reflects the findings from Logicalis’ Realtime Generation (RTG) research, which polls 13-17 year olds on their digital habits and opinions on the digital future of the UK. Mark Starkey, managing director at Logicalis UK, comments:
“As student fees continue to increase, so too has the need for universities to be competitive. Students not only assess the quality of teaching and degree/career ratio, but also the facilities and services institutions can provide. Years of research commissioned by Logicalis points to a student body and future generation that expects to use and have access to a business-class IT infrastructure. Moreover, IT-literate students are aware that technology supports new learning behaviours, for instance, remote learning. Some are expecting to create, or re-program, the applications and learning environment to suit their individual needs.
“Our most recent Realtime Generation survey suggests that 70% of 13-17 year olds are planning to go to university. CIOs in HE need to plan for the future and be prepared to adjust their IT strategies to reflect the needs of an expectant and discerning generation of students.”
For more information on Logicalis’ Realtime Generation research, please visit www.uk.logicalis.com/knowledge-share/real-time-generation-2013-2014.aspx
For more information on Logicalis, please visit www.uk.logicalis.com/about-us/