Neville Lovett Community School relies on information and communications technology (ICT) to support its specialist curriculum and enhance student learning. In 2009, the school network was migrated to Windows Server 2008 R2 to take advantage of Hyper-V virtualisation technology. The solution will save the school a minimum of £23,000 over three years by reducing the number of servers purchased, and lowering licensing and power costs.
Neville Lovett is a specialist maths and computing school located in Fareham in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The multiple award-winning school is committed to using ICT to advance independent learning and support students to reach their full potential. Richard Markey, IT Manager for Neville Lovett, is passionate about providing a seamless ICT environment to the school’s 780 students. Since he accepted the role in 2007, he’s worked tirelessly to modernise the school’s network―backed by the full support of Head Teacher Julie Taylor. He says: “Like most schools, we found the cost of replacing, managing, powering, and cooling our servers put a significant strain on our budget. We wanted to expand our ICT services and capabilities, but at the same time we needed to reduce running costs.”
In 2007, Markey began replacing a disparate server system with a streamlined virtualised network based on VMware. Although he was convinced of the savings and performance benefits of virtualisation, Markey was concerned about the licensing and operating costs associated with the VMware solution. “We spent £2,500 on new processors to support a specific fault tolerance feature, plus an additional £4,000 on two VMware licences,” he says. “I could see that we’d spend a lot of money every time we needed to add functionality. I wanted Neville Lovett to get the best value for money and decided it wouldn’t hurt to look at the developments and competition in the virtualisation market.”
In mid-2008, Markey approached Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Medhurst Communications for virtualisation advice and support. Charlie Baynes, Managing Director of Medhurst Communications, says: “We encouraged Markey to research and experiment with a virtualised environment based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V technology. Once he looked at the solution in our Innovation Centre, he immediately realised he could make significant savings on licensing alone.” Markey agrees: “Neville Lovett is already on a Microsoft School Agreement. I discovered that our terms for Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter mean we can run up to 16 Hyper-V hosts and unlimited virtual machines without incurring extra licensing costs.”
After two weeks of using Hyper-V technology, Markey became convinced that it was not only more cost-effective for the school than VMware, but it also provided him with tools for managing the Neville Lovett network more efficiently. “With Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007―part of the System Center suite―my team can manage all servers from a single monitor, which means we can prevent many of the problems that cause user downtime. For example, we can back up and restore a student’s work in around 15 minutes,” he says. In addition, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 provides employees with the tools to deploy updates remotely, and configure machines to comply with the school’s policies, improving network security and increasing performance and availability.
Markey is now in the final stages of migrating the school’s network onto a Windows Server virtualised environment and is delighted with the easy-to-deploy solution. He says: “If I’d opted for this solution earlier I could have saved money by downloading the Hyper-V hypervisor from the Microsoft Web site for no extra cost. When we installed VMware we had to pay an upfront fee for the software.”
Low running costs, fewer server purchases, fast backup and recovery, and simplified maintenance and administration all combine to provide Neville Lovett with an excellent return on investment. “With Hyper-V technology and Windows Server 2008 R2, we have a solution that saves us time and money, and supports my team to develop innovative student services,” says Markey.
- Low running costs. Markey expects Neville Lovett to save around £1,000 a year on power and cooling.
- Significant server savings. Markey estimates the school will save £23,000 over three years by not having to replace an average of three servers a year.
- Quick data recovery. Students often accidentally lose or delete their work. Markey’s team members can recover data quickly with minimal disruption to student learning or taking time out from their valuable IT projects.
- Reduced maintenance. Markey’s team spends a lot less time identifying and fixing routine problems, and performing backup tasks.
- Enhanced student services. One project being planned is a self-service portal that students can use to restore their work themselves. Based on System Center Operations Manager, it will remove the need for students to leave class and make a trip to the IT department’s office.
- Time for innovation. Another project the school is planning involves a cloud-based storage solution, which is part of Microsoft Live@edu. With this, students can make and edit films using third-party software accessed on the Internet. Final versions can be saved on the school network, which helps reduce the school’s storage expenditure.
- Simplified administration. Employees can deploy security updates and enforce new user policies without having to put aside significant time and resources to do so. This supports a safe, consistent, and secure school network.
For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: www.microsoft.com/casestudies
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published March 2010