Lincoln Minster School

The Challenge

Efficiently refresh existing server infrastructure before virtualising.

The Solution

A SAN and virtualisation solution designed and installed by XMA.

Outcomes

Improved storage so the service offered to students is much more efficient and staff can now rely on the IT facilities.

XMA’s technical expertise has proved invaluable for helping Lincoln Minster School install a SAN and carry out a server virtualisation project which has given staff and students a much improved service.

“Having an impressive technical team on the end of the phone was very helpful.” That was the verdict of Simon Cornish, network manager at Lincoln Minster School, after XMA helped the school design and deliver a SAN installation and server virtualisation project. In fact, he attributed much of the final success of the project to the company’s ability to offer sound technical advice at every step of the way.

The solution was designed by XMA after the school decided to explore moving towards a modern virtualisation environment during a hardware refresh. Mr Cornish said: “We were refreshing our server infrastructure and we wanted to virtualise it. Previously our servers were old and tired and out of warranty. We knew virtualisation was the way IT was going but we needed help to move forward with the right solution.”

The entire project ran very smoothly. Members of the XMA team were happy to answer
questions about anything we wanted to know about. We were really impressed.

The school, which caters for 900 pupils across three sites, needed XMA’s help to make sure their plans could become an effective reality. Therefore, XMA designed a solution and installed a cost- effective SAN which enabled the school to reduce its server estate from 15 servers to 4.

Why virtual?

The benefits of virtualisation were clear to Lincoln Minster. Mr Cornish said: “This is the way IT is going. By cutting down our servers from fifteen to four, we have reduced our overheads dramatically and it has also made the management of our IT systems much easier as we only have one place to look at all the servers – rather than having to maintain each separately. Thanks to this project, we have refreshed hardware, our operating systems are up to date, we have more power and, generally, we now have in place a faster, more effective system than before.”

Support for the right solution

However, ensuring the school reaped the benefits of a virtualisation solution was not a foregone conclusion. Mr Cornish said: "We have our own technical team but finding people who were at the next level up was essential. One of my aims was to find a solution provider with good technical expertise.

“Today, both staff and students at Lincoln Minster are enjoying the advantages of XMA’s solution which has proved to be value-for-money, as well as reliable and scalable.”

“We were most impressed with XMA’s technical knowledge. From that point of view, it was absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t have asked for anything more at all. It was quickly apparent that XMA staff knew what they were doing and had the knowledge to help
us.”

A personalised solution

Another reason that Lincoln Minster chose XMA to deliver the solution was because the IT provider was happy to create a solution that was fitted to the school's requirements exactly. For example, the school had already chosen to use HP and Microsoft technology – so XMA ensured this preference was factored into the final design.

Mr Cornish said: “Our account manager made an effort to come and sit down with us and find out exactly what our issues were. By doing so, XMA could plan out exactly what we needed. Now we have a solution that fulfils our needs.”

The solution in action

Today, both staff and students at Lincoln Minster are enjoying the advantages of XMA’s solution which has proved to be value-for-money, as well as reliable and scalable. The system can also support much faster backup times and improved disaster recovery. The solution provides redundancy within the SAN solution through two fibre controllers to service the servers and data traffic and three high performance specification servers to manage data requests to the SAN from the school’s network. A storage server was also installed to backup all data from the main SAN.

Mr Cornish said: “Our storage is improved so the service we can offer our students is much better. What’s more, the staff know they can rely on the IT facilities. In the past we have had complaints about the systems performance. That was not an acceptable situation because if the computers are down, teachers cannot deliver lessons to the standard they want, which is a major problem for any modern school. Now we just don’t have these complaints coming in.”

A smooth implementation

He went on: “The entire project ran very smoothly. Members of the XMA team were happy to answer questions about anything we wanted to know about. We were really impressed. They knew their stuff and because of that we would absolutely use XMA again in the future.”