by Hamish Barwick

TAFE Box Hill Institute takes the power back

Oct 08, 2010
Data CenterGovernment IT

Faced with an aging server room and a directive to cut power costs, Melbourne’s TAFE Box Hill Institute IT manager, Chris Tayler, decided to look for a new solution.

The education provider is known for its collaborative and creative approach to education in Australia and overseas. Speaking at the CIO Summit 2010 in Melbourne, Tayler said the institution’s issues included an IP network being used by other buildings, limited air conditioning and a fleet of disparate devices.

“There were no monitored systems, which became a problem,” he said. “A security camera was out of action for six months and we didn’t know about it.”

Tayler also found that he had 14 silos of information in the building. Before putting tenders out for a new data centre, the institute considered putting its data in the cloud.

“I looked at cloud when we built the data centre three years ago, but we wanted to have a lot of our stuff in-house so we could take ownership of the devices.”

The Box Hill Institute now has a mix of 80 physical servers and 340 virtualised servers. The IT department looks after about 4000 computers.

TAFE received 20 tenders for the project. A joint submission from APC and Dell eventually won the contract.

“We needed something that was going to meet our needs, delivered by an experienced company.”

The Institute’s a data centre is now surrounded by a bund to prevent flooding. It is still in a sub-ground location, but sits alongside an auditorium which is even lower; Tayler joked that Melbourne is going to have a lot more to worry about than one data centre flooding were water to make its way in.

The centre includes in-row cooling, modular power and an external generator circuit. The project was completed in three months due to time constraints.

The TAFE also has standardised audio visual equipment with wall mounted controllers, short throw projectors and smart boards.

Since completion, Tayler said the data centre is able to cope with peak demand and moving to virtualisation has saved energy. He is now looking at how to reduce UPS infrastructure.

“With the new technology we’re looking at with Cisco; we can individually turn off power over Ethernet ports. We’re doing this so we can feed power to essential items such as security cameras,” he said.