California State University in San Bernardino goes virtual—and saves big

Delivering results with flexible, high-performance IBM System x, IBM BladeCenter and IBM XIV

Published on 20-Jan-2014

"Right off the bat, [the IBM solution] saved us money. We replaced the hardware that was on its last legs with virtual machines. We also recouped significant physical space in the data center, which helped to lower our power consumption by 30 percent." - Fernando Gutierrez, operating system analyst – lead supervisor, CSUSB

Customer:
California State University in San Bernadino

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Virtualization - Desktop

IBM Business Partner:
Virtual Computing Technology

Overview

California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) is part of the California State University system, the largest system of higher education in the country. Its 23 campuses and five off-campus centers, serving more than 400,000 students, extend from Humboldt State in Arcata in the north to San Diego State in the south. The university has grown to an annual student population of more than 20,000 since opening in 1965. Over the past 15 years CSUSB has developed more than a dozen highly active research and service centers in surrounding areas.

Business need:
California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) needed to boost availability for critical applications supporting students and faculty, simplify operations, and enable faster IT service delivery.

Solution:
CSUSB deployed IBM® System x® 3850 X5 and IBM BladeCenter® HS23 and HS22 servers with Intel® Xeon® processors, and IBM XIV® Storage System Gen3 and IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager for refreshed storage.

Benefits:
The IBM solution has enabled CSUSB to save more than USD1 million by virtualizing servers, lower energy costs by 30 percent, ease IT management, and create a stable development and test environment.

Case Study

Overhauling the infrastructure

The CSUSB IT infrastructure was running on scarce resources, inefficient power and cooling, and limited rack space. With its current hardware failing regularly—and incurring downtime for repeated maintenance and upgrades—something had to give. As Fernando Gutierrez, operating system analyst – lead supervisor at CSUSB explains, “The legacy hardware and processing power we had was not keeping up with the university’s requirements.”

Needing to replace a collection of heterogeneous and aging servers while streamlining application deployment and migration, CSUSB decided to implement a virtual server infrastructure environment. This would allow the university to repurpose many of its existing servers as virtual machine servers—while adding high availability for critical applications, simplifying IT operations and enabling IT to respond to educational and administrative demands more quickly. Since this solution would run most of the university’s administrative systems, including the student health center, it needed to be extremely reliable, scalable and manageable in order to meet various compliance requirements.

There was one more issue, as Gutierrez explains: “One of the biggest problems we have is storage. It's like technology is turning everybody into a document hoarder.” As such, the university also needed to expand its storage systems to support ever-increasing data demands.

Extending technology through virtualization

This is where IBM came in. Ramiro Diazgranados, director of the data center and help desk services at the university says, “One reason the IBM solution was approved is because we proved that it could save a lot of money for the campus.”

To support the VDI and virtual machine server lab infrastructure and host part of its new cluster backup system, CSUSB deployed two IBM BladeCenter H Chassis containing BladeCenter HS23 and BladeCenter HS22 servers. According to Gutierrez, three System x3850 X5 servers are the major workhorses of the virtual environment, supporting part of the production infrastructure and acting as hypervisors to more than 200 virtual machines. CSUSB is repurposing three System x3850 class servers from its previous production environment to host data that requires higher security.

In addition to the VDI labs, the virtual machine servers also host most of the university’s critical applications, including its Microsoft Exchange email system, Blackboard online distributed learning system and student portal, campus-wide surveillance system, websites, library and health center applications, and more. Operating system analyst Gerardo Garcia says, “All the main systems are pretty much moving to the virtual infrastructure at this point. So availability and nondisruption were essential.”

To handle its growing storage requirements and help ensure business continuity, the university upgraded its XIV Storage System from Gen2 to Gen3, and also implemented IBM System Storage® TS3500 Tape Library with six Linear Tape-Open (LTO) Ultrium 6 tape drives. Gutierrez explains, “The new XIV system provides approximately 79 TB of usable space on disk. Tivoli Storage Manager is our primary storage manager, currently managing more than 60 TB of data, including our entire physical and virtual infrastructure.”

IBM Business Partner Virtual Computing Technology played a critical role in the smooth implementation. As Diazgranados explains, “The data migration was completely transparent to users. It was wonderful—we experienced no downtime. Virtual Computing Technology took extra steps, over and over, doing whatever was necessary to address any issues.”

Securing infrastructure benefits

Benefits were almost instantaneous. “Right off the bat, we saved money. We replaced the hardware that was on its last legs with virtual machines. We also recouped significant physical space in the data center, which helped to lower our power consumption by 30 percent,” says Gutierrez. “And virtualizing the physical servers has saved an estimated USD5,000 per server—which comes out to more than USD1 million, overall.”

The university’s IT staff has embraced the virtual infrastructure for its operational advantages. “They're quite happy with this new environment because it allows them the flexibility of managing systems remotely,” says Diazgranados. The system has also helped improve the delivery of IT services across the university and decreased help desk calls. In addition, CSUSB has been able to provide development resources via resource pools, something that was not possible with the old infrastructure. Garcia says, “Now our technical staff can perform all of their testing and release applications into production without any downtime.”

Moving forward with a scalable solution

Diazgranados says plans are already in the works to expand the university’s VDI and virtual machine server environment. “We are doing a pilot right now with our labs to virtualize all of our outdated equipment. Instead of buying new desktops, we plan to virtualize them.” The highly scalable IBM solution can grow in keeping with the university’s future needs.

Gutierrez says, “The quality of service, reliability and technology of the IBM products led us to choose this solution. Integrating BladeCenter and System x has enabled us to more effectively manage and operate our heterogeneous environments across the university.”

Diazgranados adds, “I wanted IBM. With 43 years of experience using IBM solutions, I trust their products and I trust them as a company.”

For more information

Please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/x

To learn more about California State University – San Bernardino, please visit: www.csusb.edu/

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter H Chassis, BladeCenter HS22, BladeCenter HS23, Storage: TS3500 Tape Library, Storage: XIV Gen3, System x: System x3850 X5

Software:
Tivoli Storage Manager

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 Produced in the United States of America December 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BladeCenter, System Storage, System x, Tivoli, and XIV 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 Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Linear Tape-Open, LTO, the LTO Logo, Ultrium and the Ultrium logo are trademarks of HP, IBM Corp. and Quantum in the U.S. and other countries. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. 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. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.