Daramalan College deploys Brocade Ethernet Fabric Technology

Daramalan College is the largest single-campus independent secondary school in Canberra

July 05, 2013 2:48 IST | India Infoline News Service

Building on the success of its campus LAN and core network upgrade, the Australian Capital Territory’s Daramalan College has become the first high school in Australia to deploy Brocade’s Ethernet fabric to support its IT operations. The decision to move to the third phase of its network infrastructure upgrade with Brocade has seen the college deploy Brocade VDX 6720 Switches and VCS Fabric technology to replace its legacy server access infrastructure. The decision was driven by anticipated traffic growth from current applications, including real-time video streaming and the college’s administrative suite, as well as increased demand for higher network performance.

Daramalan College is the largest single-campus independent secondary school in Canberra, with a strong focus on leveraging IT to support teaching and learning as well as administrative functions. Over the last two years it has undertaken a comprehensive revamp of its network infrastructure with local Brocade partner, Correct Communications, culminating in the entire network being characterized as a “best-practice” design.

“With the improvements we’ve made to the core network and campus LAN, it was obvious that server access had become the performance bottleneck,” said Rob Wilson, Daramalan College’s IT manager. “In a sense we’d become victims of our own success. Staff and student usage has become more intensive since the campus network upgrade, and I’m expecting traffic to at least double in the next two years.”

The college had also started to virtualize its server environment but, with a single 1 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connection per server having to support virtual machines and a virtual LAN connection to the storage array, performance was being impacted.

“While upgrading server access to 10 Gigabit Ethernet was a consideration, we also wanted to ensure that we had the right infrastructure in place to meet our future requirements. This includes a ‘bring your own device’ initiative – entailing more server-based processing and online storage – as the next phase of our mobility program, and a move toward virtual desktops. That meant we needed to network our server farm in a way that is not just faster, but a lot smarter,” said Wilson.

Given the positive experiencethe college has had with Brocade Ethernet switches in the two previous phases of network upgrades, it had no hesitation in working with Brocade and Correct Communications to design a solution to the server-based application performance challenges. Correct Communications recommended that the college adopt Brocade VCS Fabric technology to facilitate the college’s transition to a flexible, mission-critical, fabric-based network designed to support highly virtualized operations.

Brocade VDX 6720 switches have now been deployed as the high-availability infrastructure connecting Daramalan College’s server farm to the rest of its network. The switches are interconnected over multiple 10 Gigabit Ethernet links, creating a low-latency, single-layer Ethernet fabric with multiple 10 GbE links to the college’s Brocade-based core network.

This enables the college to establish fully redundant, high-bandwidth connections to its servers and storage array, with each device being connected to the Brocade VDX 6720 switches over 10GbE links that, thanks to the intelligence of Brocade VCS Fabric technology, are load-balanced to maximize performance. 

In addition, the switches transform the way servers talk to each other – which is critical in highly virtualized environments – automatically establishing high-performance virtual machine-aware connections over the Ethernet fabric without any legacy network protocol issues.

“The deployment of the Ethernet fabric between our servers and the network core has been a triumph. Once we had finished upgrading our servers and storage with dual 10 GbE interfaces, the network felt crisper, more vibrant and dynamic. Even the students noticed and commented,” said Wilson.

“The days of relying on consumer-grade technology for school networking are over. It simply can’t deal with today’s heavy IT workload. With Brocade’s advanced, but cost-effective, switching technology we have a seriously fast network that positions us ahead of the curve and ready to handle massive growth in network traffic over the next few years,” he said.

While faster and smarter server connectivity is a critical factor in enabling the further development of Daramalan College’s IT systems, Wilson is already benefitting from a dramatic reduction in network administration workload. With Brocade switching infrastructure now in place at the network edge, core and server levels, the IT staff has deployed a single easy-to-use, GUI-based management platform for the entire network.

Moreover, the network is supported by the world-class Brocade support infrastructure. With multiple Brocade Technical Assistance Centers and more than 170 parts depots in over 40 countries, Brocade is capable of delivering reliable support whenever and wherever it is needed.

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