Cnam delivers better service to students

With smarter computing and storage solutions from IBM

Published on 18-May-2012

"The XIV concept enables us to manage our capacity with ease; our management burden is 90 percent less than before, so we have much more time for higher-value activities – such as implementing our new Higher Education and Research application." - Olivier Villin, Technical Manager, Cnam

Customer:
Cnam - Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
France

Solution:
Business Integration, BA - Business Intelligence, Small & Medium Business, Smarter Computing, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
INETD, SAP

Overview

Founded in 1794 during the French Revolution, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (Cnam) was originally established as a museum for inventions. It has since become an academic research institution (grand établissement) dedicated to the promotion of industry and the sciences. In particular, it is well recognized as a school for students seeking world-class business and engineering degrees. Cnam’s network spans some 150 cities and provides academic and vocational training to more than 100,000 students.

Business need:
Cnam found itself approaching the limits of its storage capacity, making it difficult for IT staff to efficiently allocate resources and preventing deployment of a new SAP module.

Solution:
Working with IBM, Cnam deployed two IBM® XIV® Storage Systems, synchronously mirrored and supporting a full SAP production chain in a virtualized environment running on blade servers.

Benefits:
The IBM XIV Storage Systems are now fully integrated with Cnam’s existing infrastructure. Virtualizing both its servers and storage system has helped Cnam reduce storage administration by 90 percent. The IBM solution also provides the ideal high-performance environment required to support new SAP applications, while in-built scalability effectively enables the institution to grow its storage environment without bounds.

Case Study

To read a French version of this case study, click here

Founded in 1794 during the French Revolution, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (Cnam) was originally established as a museum for inventions. It has since become an academic research institution (grand établissement) dedicated to the promotion of industry and the sciences. In particular, it is well recognized as a school for students seeking world-class business and engineering degrees. Cnam’s network spans some 150 cities and provides academic and vocational training to more than 100,000 students.

Coping with growing student numbers
Cnam’s storage infrastructure was unsatisfactory for what it wanted to achieve: primarily, it needed to improve the efficiency of its course-enrollment process in the face of an expanding student body. In order to accomplish this, Cnam opted to deploy a Higher Education and Research application from SAP. Setting an ambitious one-year project-implementation deadline meant that considerable resources and innovation would be required, not least in the domain of the IT infrastructure. Cnam recognized that it would need to improve the scalability, reliability, administration and management of its existing storage environment in order to enable the rollout of the new SAP solution.

As a result of poor capacity utilization, Cnam was running out of data storage space. It was also devoting a significant amount of time to managing the existing storage. A significant problem was that the more capacity was added, the more performance deteriorated. With a growing volume of data, Cnam needed to implement a highly scalable, efficient storage solution to improve overall system performance.

Selecting IBM XIV over the competition
Comparing the costs of competing storage solutions, Cnam found that IBM XIV Storage System offered the most attractive price, coupled with outstanding performance to meet its specific needs. INETD, an IBM Business Partner, helped Cnam implement the IBM XIV Storage System.

Two XIV systems were deployed: one for production, with a second acting as a synchronous mirror to provide high availability for business-critical applications. The environment supports 220 servers (80 physical and 140 virtual) running IBM AIX®, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Linux. The VMware ESX Server 4.1 environment, running on IBM BladeCenter® HS21 and Dell PowerEdge M610 servers, supports all the virtual Windows and Linux servers.

IBM BladeCenter technology has built in flexibility, offering the possibility to quickly and easily scale out the system with new server modules. This is an especially useful feature for Cnam, as its environment continues to grow at an unpredictable rate. In addition, IBM BladeCenter servers are equipped with onboard Predictive Failure Analysis technology, which warns system administrators of imminent component failures before they occur. Light path diagnostics enables Cnam to deliver its students uninterrupted access to the course enrollment system essential for their education.

Quick, easy migration
The IBM XIV technology enabled Cnam to do a hot migration of its entire application suite in two weeks, including payroll management and email, with no breaks in service. This helped Cnam to achieve its ambitious one-year SAP implementation target, and to reduce the risk and disruption associated with the migration.

Cnam was especially impressed by the professionalism and skills shown by INETD during deployment of the solution. As Olivier Villin, Technical Manager at Cnam, reports, “The whole introduction of XIV technology went smoothly.”

Making savings with virtualization
By virtualizing its IBM XIV Storage System and blade servers, Cnam has achieved significant capacity savings, using thin provisioning to allocate storage resources to virtual systems without physically consuming disk capacity. Thanks to thin provisioning, there are now no practical limits on capacity, which ensures that Cnam can bring new applications and virtual servers on line without concerns about the available capacity, and without needing to buy all of the allocated disk capacity in advance.
Denis Corée, Chief Information Officer at Cnam, comments, “With our previous hardware, we lost as much as 70 percent of useable capacity to RAID. With XIV, we’re utilizing 100 percent of our useable capacity.”

Additionally, Cnam reports its IT administrative burden is as much as 90 percent less than before. Furthermore, Cnam has saved as much as 60 percent on total cost of ownership. The institution benefits from the user-friendly, intuitive interface of the XIV, and its virtualized environment enables on-the-fly provisioning and de-provisioning of storage.

“Virtualizing both our storage and our servers has made all the difference,” continues Denis Corée. “You’re only as fast as your slowest component – the ability to create a storage partition in under half an hour would be no benefit for us if we then had to spend days setting up a new physical server. With native support for virtualization on our blade servers, we can rapidly create virtual machines, allowing us to take full advantage of the speed of thin provisioning on our IBM XIV storage platform.”

Easy management and enhanced performance
Ease of user management is a key differentiator of the IBM XIV. According to Olivier Villin, “The XIV system offers the simplest interface on the market, and yet it is extremely powerful. The XIV concept enables us to manage our capacity with ease; our management burden is 90 percent less than before, so we have much more time for higher-value activities – such as implementing our new Higher Education and Research application.”

The massively parallelized grid architecture of the XIV systems has delivered vital performance improvements for reading and writing data, enabling Cnam to maintain excellent service levels even as the volume of data and the number of virtual servers in its infrastructure increase.

As Corée continues, “With the XIV and BladeCenter solution in place, we are now ideally positioned to implement useful business analytics applications, which will bring crucial efficiencies to some of our planning and scheduling processes. This is what we should now aspire to; and this kind of innovation is certainly what Cnam is about – using IT innovations to assist and enhance business operations.”

Smarter Computing: The IT Infrastructure of a Smarter Planet
Built-in thin provisioning on the XIV systems and native support for virtualization on the blade servers enables Cnam to rapidly create virtual servers and reclaim the disk space when it is no longer required, generating excellent space savings. The XIV solution is highly efficient and scalable, offering optimized workload management and delivering exceptional performance. Cnam now has an almost fully virtualized infrastructure across both servers and storage, in which most provisioning tasks are automated, enabling the organization to orchestrate a complex set of IT resources with great ease and speed. Thin provisioning removes practical limits on storage capacity, allowing for unprecedented flexibility and scalability.

Reducing the need for storage administration by 90 percent has freed up IT employees, enabling them to focus on higher value activities. By enabling greater productivity, Cnam ensures it is ideally placed to capitalize on opportunities for enterprise growth, with the scalable infrastructure in place to support an expanding student population. Having implemented the XIV systems, Cnam is ready to capitalize on its new storage infrastructure by deploying new software to support enhanced capabilities. For example, the institution is well positioned to consider real-time data analytics solutions, which would facilitate the scheduling of academic courses by extracting and analyzing large volumes of student data from its existing databases.

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter, BladeCenter running hypervisor - VMware, BladeCenter running OS - AIX, BladeCenter running OS - Windows, Storage, Storage: XIV

Software:
AIX

Operating system:
AIX, Linux

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM France Centre Relations Clients 110 boulevard de la Salle F-45760 Boigny-sur-Bionne France Produced in France May 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, BladeCenter, System Storage and XIV are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other 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. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. IBM and INETD are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor INETD makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.