University aims to dramatically increase network performance and resilience to support 25,000 students across four campuses through infrastructure upgrade
Bracknell, UK – 11 April, 2014: The University of Westminster, one of London’s largest and most respected higher education institutions, has selected Brocade (Nasdaq: BRCD) to help the organisation keep pace with growing demand for network performance and deliver increased resilience across the network infrastructure, while paving the way for Software Defined Networking (SDN). The deployment will be based on Brocade’s MLX Series core routers, which are designed to deliver industry-leading scale and performance, high reliability and operational efficiency for the most demanding network environments.
With more than 25,000 students from over 150 nations, based at four campuses across London, the University of Westminster’s network infrastructure is fundamental to the running of the organisation, delivering critical applications to both students and university employees. The University is keen to attract international students in order to drive revenue, meaning that high quality IT services are also critical from a business perspective.
The new Brocade solution will allow the University of Westminster to deploy 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connections across its wide area network (WAN) and data centres, giving it the faster speeds its users expect. The new architecture will also make it easy to upgrade to 40 or 100 GbE performance at a later date. The organisation is also planning to deploy SDN capabilities in the future and this infrastructure gives it a flexible, robust platform on which to base its longer-term networking strategy.
A key component of the company’s comprehensive SDN strategy, OpenFlow support, from the Brocade MLXe and CER/CES product families to the Brocade ICX and VDX switch families enables customers to achieve new agility and programmability across the network—from the data center to the campus to the wide area network (WAN). This unique capability provides a pragmatic path for enabling network users to integrate OpenFlow into existing networks, giving them the programmatic control offered by SDN for specific flows while the remaining traffic is routed as before, an essential decision criterion for the University. The University will follow in the steps of other organisations such as Internet2 in building out a comprehensive SDN strategy with Brocade.
For now, the new infrastructure will allow the University’s students to use the network not just for their studies but also for their social and entertainment needs. They carry out data-intensive activities such as video calls, gaming and media streaming across laptops, gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets. The UK has the highest proportion of 18-to-24 year old mobile device users across Europe, making this a particular challenge for British universities. The University of Westminster’s IT team is therefore constantly working to keep its network infrastructure ahead of users’ ever-increasing need for bandwidth, and any downtime can be hugely problematic.
“When you are providing IT services for international students, the appetite for faster connection speeds and greater bandwidth will just keep growing,” commented Daniel Halter, Head of IT Infrastructure at the University of Westminster. “Our students are online constantly, often with more than one device at a time, and they expect to be able to access content, use online applications and collaborate on their studies without any interruptions.”
With its network spread across campuses in central London and Harrow, the University of Westminster was also keen to resolve an organisational vulnerability to network outages.
“Our network infrastructure is relied upon for everything from student information applications and Voice over IP (VOIP) communications systems to our 24/7 library services, so any fault has an instant impact on our staff and students,” Halter commented. “We were therefore very keen to resolve a vulnerability in our previous network architecture, which was over-reliant on a single connection between our two primary data centres, located more than 14 kilometres apart in central London and Harrow. This single connection point was a major concern and we did suffer outages, which could only be resolved manually by our on-site teams. With this new [Brocade] deployment we have far greater resilience and, if there is a fault, the network can seamlessly re-route traffic so that our end users will not even notice there has been a problem.”
After a competitive tender process, the University of Westminster selected Brocade’s MLX Series core routers. Built on a programmable architecture with high-density 100 GbE, 40 GbE, and 10 GbE routing, Brocade’s MLX routers are designed to meet massive bandwidth demands, while maximizing return on investment (ROI). The deployment also includes a NetIron CES 2000 Series switch at the University’s Marylebone Campus to deliver IP routing and advanced Carrier Ethernet capabilities.
Halter added: “Open standards are very important for our organisation, so we wanted a vendor that would support interoperability rather than locking us in to a single supplier. The Brocade solution has the added benefit of being simple and easy to deploy. This has allowed us to streamline and rationalise our infrastructure significantly. We now have the same technology across both of our datacentres, reducing the resources and training needed for on-going management and maintenance.”
“We have been delighted with the service we’ve received throughout this process,” Halter continued. “Having selected Brocade, we’ve worked closely with the company throughout the deployment, even working with its labs team who helped us run testing to make sure everything would roll-out smoothly.”
Joy Gardham, Regional Director, EMEA West, at Brocade, commented, “It is no secret that students expect constant, high-speed connectivity. They are natural multi-taskers and use numerous devices to conduct their studies, socialise with friends, play games and stream live content simultaneously. This makes a university network one of the most demanding IT environments, with organisations always racing to stay ahead of user expectations. The University of Westminster has taken a long-term approach to upgrading its network infrastructure, deploying a solution that offers speed, flexibility and resilience while also laying the foundation for future evolution. This will enable it to take advantage of emerging technologies such as Software-Defined Networking, allowing it to meet and exceed user demands now and for many years to come.”http://www.slideshare.net/agostimarco/2013-ukfutureinfocus
Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) networking solutions help the world’s leading organizations transition smoothly to a world where applications and information reside anywhere. (www.brocade.com)
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Ben Fletcher / Sarah Hay
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