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Televation Authors: Lori MacVittie, Cliff Beek, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: VMware Journal, Citrix Virtualization Journal, Open Source Journal, Telecom Innovation, ILM Consulting

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Brocade Powers ULCC’s New State-of-the-Art Data Centre

Brocade® (Nasdaq: BRCD) today announced that the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC – www.ulcc.ac.uk) has upgraded its network infrastructure as part of a move to its new £3 million data centre facility in central London.

A Brocade BigIron RX-16 series 10 Gbps backbone switch platform has been installed along with a Brocade ServerIron 4Gbps switch to provide application delivery and traffic management switch solution. This will improve network performance and availability while ‘future proofing’ ULCC’s network for the next five years. The equipment was purchased through Brocade partner, Vanix, along with a comprehensive maintenance contract.

With around 70 staff and a turnover of £5 million, ULCC works for around 200 organisations including City University, Kings College, The National Archives, The European Library and The British Library, with its main customer the University of London. ULCC supports 1,200 staff using 1,500 desktops, delivers Internet connectivity for over 3,000 students in London, and hosts all the IT infrastructure used by a further 50,000 students across the globe (accessing virtual learning environments). ULCC offers a range of services primarily to academic institutions and the public sector from simple co-location hosting from its own datacentre to fully managed services including Moodle1 hosting, document digitisation and preservation, as well as the provision of connectivity to JANET, the UK’s education and research network.

ULCC moved to Stewart House, a new state-of-the art facility in Russell Square, after 41 years at its Guildford Street datacentre site. The process took 18 months, ensuring no disruption of service to customers. The University of London’s drive to consolidate buildings in the heart of London was the catalyst for the project. The new 750 m2 datacentre is far more resilient offering dual UPS2, standby generators, fail-safe air conditioning along with environmental friendly argonite fire suppression equipment.

Colin Love, ULCC’s data centre manager, says: “Given the new datacentre was built from scratch, we took the move as an opportunity to upgrade our core switch platform to the latest 10 Gbps-based technology especially as our existing equipment was effectively end-of-life. Chassis-based Brocade BigIron RX-16 series switch technology was chosen because of a mix of price, performance, reliability and expandability.”

With 24/7 hardware support provided by VANIX, the BigIron RX-16 series switch platform offers ULCC the resilience required, with more than enough port capacity available in a single chassis to cater for ULCC’s extensive customer base. Brocade’s ServerIron 4Gbps switch has been installed to ensure high availability of web servers delivering student record information to administrative staff at the University of London.

Today, ULCC’s network runs at speeds of 10/100/1000 Mb, but the university installed10 Gbps interfaces to provide room for growth. Love says: “Given our funding cycle, our core backbone networking equipment has to last for at least five years. While we don’t need 10 Gbps capacity quite yet, we didn’t want to buy a switch for Stewart House now which doesn’t support it, only to have to replace it when the faster speed is required in two or three years’ time. The Brocade solution gives us this performance headroom, along with IPv6 capability.”

A faster backplane in the network core is important as ULCC has seen a 20 percent increase in both servers requiring 1 Gbps connectivity and the need to handle multiple terabytes of data. In addition, the shift in websites running dynamic rather than static content - in other words, the provision of multi-media streaming such as video and podcasts to ULCC customers - means that faster network speeds are inevitable.

Brocade BigIron RX-16 switch installation has also improved reliability in ULCC’s network, when compared to the previous equipment used. Love adds: “Our data centre is a 24/7 operation delivering 99.5 percent availability to our customers, which more than exceeds what they would expect, need and pay for given most are in education or the public sector. Switch reliability is key and the new Brocade RX-16 inspires confidence.”

ULCC has also upgraded servers, installed a new storage array network and replaced its existing tape libraries in conjunction with the opening of the new data centre. It has also embraced virtualisation and now runs 30 VMware servers along side some 120 physical systems. All told, the university has spent more than £1 million on new IT equipment.

Both the old and new sites were run concurrently to avoid any downtime for customers during the datacentre move. Love continues: “We’ve not had an outage in our datacentre for over four years, so during the transition phase it was crucial that service was maintained as we just couldn’t afford even a weekend of downtime. And I am pleased to say that the longest outage of service in the whole move has been just one hour.”

Love concludes: “We’ve always liked Brocade’s technology and have been a long term user. Pre-sales support is impressive, staff really listen to our requirements and provide a genuinely personal service without the ‘hard sell’.”

Ulrich Plechschmidt, vice president, EMEA at Brocade, stated: “ULCC operates, in effect, as an ISP servicing a broad customer base all of whom rely on system availability to access applications or the Internet. Mission critical environments like this require the most reliable network infrastructure and the Brocade BigIron and ServerIron platforms are ideal where downtime is unacceptable.”

About Brocade

Brocade® (Nasdaq: BRCD) develops extraordinary networking solutions that enable today’s complex, data-intensive businesses to optimize information connectivity and maximize the business value of their data. For more information, visit www.brocade.com

© 2010 Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Brocade, the B-wing symbol, BigIron, DCX, Fabric OS, FastIron, IronView, NetIron, SAN Health, ServerIron, and TurboIron are registered trademarks, and Brocade Assurance, DCFM, Extraordinary Networks, and Brocade NET Health are trademarks of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., in the United States and/or in other countries. Other brands, products, or service names mentioned are or may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

1 Moodle is free open source software used in academia so that online virtual learning environments can be created to facilitate distance learning

2 Uninterruptable power supplies

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