Success Story

Consolidation infrastructure at SWITCH

Situation and background

The SWITCH foundation, a partner of the Swiss academic community, develops Internet services for teaching staff, students, and researchers. It helps universities implement new and innovative technologies for learning and collaboration. As the community’s central IT provider, SWITCH needed an infrastructure that would offer stability while also offering the flexibility to adapt to modern technology and meet future needs. However, the foundation’s IT landscape consisted of heterogeneous hardware and numerous operating systems — such as Debian Linux, Oracle Solaris, Mac OS, and Microsoft Windows. This complexity led to inefficient use of resources, high maintenance costs, and time-consuming administration that made developing and delivering new solutions and services difficult. “The diverse IT landscape created very high administrative costs that we didn’t want to accept anymore,” said Dr. Filiz Bektas, service platform team leader at SWITCH headquarters in Zurich. “We set ourselves the goal of reducing complexity and standardizing our hardware, operating systems, and network architecture. We wanted to free up our employees as much as possible from engineering in these fields to do what we consider far more important — for example, expanding our service offerings.”

Motivation

To select a solution, SWITCH received support from Acceleris, a Swiss IT systems integrator and a sales partner of leading software and hardware manufacturers — and a Red Hat Premium Business Partner. SWITCH chose Acceleris because of the company’s extensive project experience in unified computing. To gain a consistent infrastructure using a uniform operating system and a new virtualization platform, SWITCH chose to deploy a FlexPod architecture along with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Red Hat Satellite.

Advantage

  • The FlexPod reference architecture was jointly designed by Cisco and NetApp with operating system and hypervisor providers, including Red Hat. This preconfigured datacenter solution is based on servers and network components from Cisco and storage systems from NetApp. The core element of the infrastructure package is the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) server. FlexPod solutions deploy rapidly and are fully integrated and validated, offering advantages such as quick implementation,

Advantage

  • low project risk, and reduced IT costs. In addition, the design of the specific system landscape provides high scalability.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides a powerful, supported operating system for the new infrastructure. “For us, the main advantage of a commercial enterprise Linux solution is comprehensive manufacturer support with regular updates, error corrections, patches, and constant integration of new functions and optimized drivers,” said Bektas. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization lets physical hardware be used more efficiently. As a result, SWITCH reduced the number of physical servers from 120 to 40 based on Red Hat solutions.

This solution promised to meet our central requirements: lower administrative costs, short deployment times, reliable security, and high scalability and availability.

Dr. Filiz Bektas, service platform team leader at SWITCH

Challenges and precautions

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