Ongoing austerity measures have meant less money for many academic institutions, including New College Durham and although the institution has money set aside for lean times, departments nevertheless must work to control costs while continuing to provide high-quality teaching and resources to all students.
Like other departments, the university’s information and communications technology (ICT) group must justify all expenditures. “Our funding is directly tied to student enrolment and course completion, so we need to ensure that any IT system we invest in will impress prospects and enable current students to be more productive and achieve better grades,” says George Wraith, Head of ICT, New College Durham.
Enhancing Flexibility through Virtualisation
The imperative to reduce spending while still offering robust technology resources has led New College Durham to have a long-standing relationship with both Phoenix Software and VMware, one that began in 2008.
Working in conjunction with the team at Phoenix Software, the university’s ICT group initially embarked on a project to virtualise servers. Using the VMware vSphere server virtualisation platform, the group was able to enhance agility of its infrastructure and support new services, such as voice over IP (VoIP), while reducing costs. “When we took that first step, little did we know that it was the beginning of a journey that would revolutionise our IT estate for the better,” says Wraith.
The success of the first project led the ICT group to virtualise desktops. By adopting a VMware virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, the group was able to purchase cost-effective thin clients instead of more traditional PCs. “When we ran a full business evaluation of capital costs against projected savings, the benefits were clear – making significant savings for our business,” says Wraith.