University of Palermo is top of the class on education quality

Deploying a powerful hybrid solution from IBM

Published on 18-Jun-2013

"We have significantly reduced administrative effort, and only need one person to manage our entire data center environment. This has allowed us to re-allocate our resources to more valuable areas of our business, such as developing and improving online applications for our students." - Benedetto Vassallo, IT Systems Manager, University of Palermo

Customer:
University of Palermo

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
Italy

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Modernization, Server Consolidation, Service Oriented Architecture, Workload Optimized Infrastructure Framework

Overview

The University of Palermo is a higher education institution established in 1806 in Sicily, Italy. Offering a varied range of courses to nearly 70,000 students and employing a staff of over 2,000 professors and researchers, the university excels in scientific areas such as robotics, pharmaceutical studies, ecology and medicine.

Business need:
As the educational landscape changed, University of Palermo needed to ensure that it could keep up by offering highly flexible, connected ways of learning that responded to modern learners’ needs and matched those offered by the leading institutions in the rest of Europe.

Solution:
The University of Palermo deployed an IBM zEnterprise114, configured with the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension with four IBM BladeCenter HX5 blades running Linux which offers a hybrid architecture enabling the University of Palermo to integrate the capabilities of mainframe and Intel processor-based blade technologies and manage them from a single point of control with the same tools.

Benefits:
Streamlined operations help the university keep up with leading European institutions. Increased computing power boosts the speed of online services. Saved 30 percent on energy consumption.

Case Study

The University of Palermo is a higher education institution established in 1806 in Sicily, Italy. Offering a varied range of courses to nearly 70,000 students and employing a staff of over 2,000 professors and researchers, the university excels in scientific areas such as robotics, pharmaceutical studies, ecology and medicine.

Facing higher education challenges

In an increasingly fast-paced and technologically developed world, universities must work hard to keep pace with changing requirements in higher education to avoid losing out to both well-established and new competitors.

One of the major threats faced by traditional higher education institutions like the University of Palermo comes from the growing popularity of online education courses, which provide highly regarded remote learning on an extensive variety of subjects. As the educational landscape changes, University of Palermo must ensure that it can keep up by offering highly flexible, connected ways of learning that respond to modern learners’ needs and match those offered by the leading institutions in the rest of Europe.

Benedetto Vassallo, IT Systems Manager, explains, “The world of higher education has been continually evolving over the years, especially in terms of adopting new technologies and delivering online services to students. University of Palermo has always managed to adapt itself to the changing times and requests in order to provide a service that matches the European standards. The key demand is to offer high quality online services to students, enabling them to manage their own career in an interactive, customized and fast way.”

“Meeting these demands requires an IT architecture that is easy to run, does not cost a fortune and is also energy-efficient and environmentally friendly–the latter being a pillar of our business.”

A central concern for the university was to support its online application “Segreteria Studenti”, which manages every single aspect of a student’s educational career. University of Palermo wanted to guarantee reliable system performance for this application in order to minimize the risk of failure and deliver seamless and reliable service to students.

“In the past, when this key application was running on non-IBM servers, we would often experience system failures and delays, which would ultimately undermine our students’ ability to, for instance, meet a specific deadline for their academic career, such as submitting all the necessary enrolment forms,” says Vassallo.

Taking IT to the next level with a hybrid solution

As its use of online operations and services grew, the university looked for a better way to manage increasing amounts of application data and maximize performance, all while keeping risks of downtime at bay.

Vassallo continues, “We realized that we needed a more powerful solution for our applications–especially for Segreteria Studenti–and we decided to upgrade our long-term and successful IBM mainframe by moving to the IBM zEnterprise 114 with IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) running on Linux operating system.”

The University of Palermo engaged IBM Business Partner Ricca S.r.l.–one of the leading IBM partners in Sicily–to support its migration of all critical data from existing Intel servers to the IBM mainframe environment. “We wanted to avoid slow system performance and remove high maintenance costs, so we migrated everything that we could possibly migrate on to the IBM zEnterprise 114–data regarding students, finances, staff payroll, university research and analysis,” notes Vassallo. “Where it was not practical to actually migrate those systems to run on the z114, we moved them to the zBX, where we can control and manage them as part of the same integrated ensemble.”

The IBM zEnterprise114, configured with the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension with four IBM BladeCenter HX5 blades running Linux offers a hybrid architecture which enables University of Palermo to integrate the capabilities of mainframe and Intel processor-based blade technologies and manage them from a single point of control with the same tools. The z114 offers significant improvements in packaging, performance and total system scalability over prior mainframe generations–all highly attractive features for the University of Palermo.

To complement its new server environment, the university refreshed its storage systems, deploying the IBM System Storage® DS8870 for enhanced scalability to over 2PB, higher performance and optimized workload management. As a second tier of storage, the university deployed IBM Storwize® V7000, which also delivers excellent support for the university’s growing business requirements while helping it to keep tight control over costs.

Matching European standards with innovative IT systems

The University of Palermo is highly satisfied with this new generation of IBM mainframe, and is already enjoying the benefits of deploying a hybrid and unified architecture with practically limitless scalability and huge computing power.

Vassallo states, “With the IBM solution we can easily manage critical volumes of information because we are supported by a solid, flexible and powerful architecture. We have significantly reduced administrative effort, and only need one person to manage our entire data center environment. This has allowed us to re-allocate our resources to more valuable areas of our business, such as developing and improving online applications for our students.”

Together with high performance and cost-efficiency, this hybrid solution offers enhanced disaster recovery, easier management and lower operational expenses–all of which ultimately translate into improved online service to students.

“Being able to run our different systems in the same integrated ensemble and manage them with the same tools makes it much easier to detect and prevent system issues and take prompt action when needed,” continues Vassallo.

The hybrid IBM solution has also enabled the University of Palermo to cut energy consumption and data center cooling costs by 30 percent, helping the university to meet its commitment to environmentally friendly operations.

Vassallo concludes, “The University of Palermo can maintain its position among the leading European institutions by offering the same high quality services supported by cutting-edge IT. We are extremely happy with the solution that IBM has delivered, which is perfectly tailored to our needs.”

Solution components
Hardware
● IBM® zEnterprise® 114
● IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter® Extension
● IBM BladeCenter HX5 blades
● IBM System Storage® DS8870
● IBM Storwize® V7000
IBM Business Partner
● Ricca S.r.l.

For more information

Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/zenterprise

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
BladeCenter HX5, Storage: DS8870, Storage: Storwize V7000, System z, System z: zEnterprise 114 (z114), System z: zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX)

Software:
z/OS, Linux

Operating system:
z/OS and OS/390

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America June 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, DB2, BladeCenter, Storwize, System Storage, zEnterprise, and z/OS are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. ZSC03169-USEN-00