CIO Profile: Greenwich Uni's Alan Broadaway on campus infrastructure

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Much of what Alan Broadaway had to do when he arrived as head of ICT for the University of Greenwich was around streamlining the college’s systems. It was a process of ticking off the most obvious challenges first.

When he came in (in 2006), his first project was to rationalise the server portfolio with virtualisation. The college invested £2m in switching from a lot of small separate units to blade servers and a storage area network.

The research branches of the university rely heavily on bandwidth-hungry applications, like computer modelling and the existing infrastructure was causing them to vie with each other for scarce resources.

“Before, people would get just so much disk space and no more, but now we can give people all the disk space they need to do their job,” he says.

One of the biggest projects on Broad­away’s roster was a refresh and upgrade of the university’s telephony system. The existing Philips comms network is still robust but as the college has grown, peak periods of activity such as when applicants’ A-level results come out in August result in thousands of calls coming in every hour. The system was not up to the job.

“I did some calculations and went back to the physics and looked at the signs and said: it just can’t cope anymore,” he says.

After putting the job out to a Europe-wide tender, Broadaway worked with Siemens to provide an IP voice and data network. One of the ­attractions is the ability to streamline all communications onto the desktop and do away with phone handsets.

Data routing is Cisco-basedacross the three campuses and Broadaway chose Thus as the telecoms service provider. The project is a seven-figure investment for the college.

Not only should it make telephony more robust, even during usage spikes, but it should open up opportunities for savings too. The IP network will also allow Broadaway’s successor to consider next-generation ­in-­college communications.

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