From zero to heroes – Porthcawl Comprehensive IT team saves money and improves performance

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If you’re used to stretching resources, £18,000 can go a long way. Schools perhaps know this better than anyone – they’re increasingly required to make every penny count when it comes to IT, but usually work on shoe-string budgets.

Take Porthcawl Comprehensive. It has just a two-person team that manages a sprawling multi-vendor infrastructure supporting 1,700 users. Their days were spent fire fighting network issues and server crashes – until, that is, they secured funding for a complete virtualized server and storage environment and the creation of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). 

To say that the overhaul has improved things is an understatement. Richard Saunders, Senior IT Technician at the school, explains: “Before, our PCs offered around 75 per cent uptime at most. Now, we’re achieving nearly 100 per cent uptime, so there’s no disruption to learning.” Porthcawl deploys standard profiles onto VDIs – for staff, IT or pupils to cut down the admin time involved in configuring new users. “They have access to the right resources and applications whenever and wherever they log on,” says Saunders. Each virtual client also uses only about 15 watts of electricity, which is around 90 per cent less than the PCs previously installed at the school. “With 400 PCs, that’s an estimated saving of £18,000 a year,” he says. 

It’s fantastic that Saunders and his colleague can save money for the school at the same time as boosting performance. But perhaps the biggest gain is the amount of time his team saves in routine administration and management – previously one of their biggest headaches. “We no longer visit PCs personally, which saves us running around the school and cuts administration time by about 30 per cent,” he says.

Porthcawl’s infrastructure is based on Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EqualLogic storage with VMware vSphere Standard for virtualization.

You can read more about the increased stability, and benefits to staff and students here.

About the Author: James Wright