What challenges was Marist College facing?
Established in 1968, Marist College Canberra is a Catholic school for boys from Years 4 to 12. The school’s 200 staff provide a diversity of academic, spiritual, cultural, and personal development opportunities to its 1,800 students. Sam Walton, ICT Systems and Operations manager, and his five-strong team are responsible for providing the IT infrastructure and rolling out projects that keep students connected and to improve their learning experience.
“From an IT perspective, schools are always a complex environment. Not only are we a relatively large school with more than 2000 end-users including students and teachers, but we also offer many extracurricular activities. The role of IT is to support all the different departments and all the applications they want to run in a single environment,” Walton said.
Walton said maintaining such a complex environment with a legacy three-tier datacentre architecture including servers, storage and networking – a system created decades ago – would be a resource-intensive challenge. A recent investment in Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure, however, freed Walton and his team to deliver greater value to the school.
How has Nutanix technology improved operations?
“Nutanix is the heart of our digital learning experience. We went from a full rack of SANs (storage area networks) and hosts which were more complicated and required a lot more maintenance just to keep running, to Nutanix which is essentially ‘set up and forget’,” he said.
“We have to know so much about everything, so the good thing about Nutanix is that it just works – I can’t be dedicating resources to maintaining the environment every week. The infrastructure we have now means my team can focus on more strategic projects.”
“IT infrastructure, particularly outdated infrastructure, can be a major energy burden. Instead of a full rack, we’ve gone down to six RU (rack units) in our production environment. This has reduced power consumption to the point we’re now downsizing our UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which provides emergency power if the main power source fails,” he said.
Walton also said he has worked with Nutanix partner, Qirx, which has been vital in guiding the College during its architecture transformation. “Qirx has been incredible. They’ve been a trusted partner, making sure the College gets the best outcome. They’re not about pushing products. They understand every school is different, has different challenges, and needs different solutions – and they took the time to understand what would work best for us.”
How is Marist College utilizing Nutanix’s technology?
Jim Steed, MD – ANZ at Nutanix, said Marist College has ensured the best learning experience for its students, today and into the future. “With its IT team liberated from having to keep the lights on, Walton and the IT team can focus on the things that matter – like improving the student and educator experience – rather than putting out fires and constant maintenance.”
“At Nutanix, we believe IT infrastructure should be invisible so organisations like Marist can focus on what they do best – educating the next gen of Australian leaders,” Steed said.
Marist is using three Nutanix nodes for its on-campus Disaster Recovery (DR) environment which keeps systems going in the event of an outage, and another three nodes for object storage, which enables greater data scalability for the school. Another benefit has been the reduced hardware footprint which has in turn reduced the College’s energy consumption.
“DR is now instant. Late last year I had to move everything to the DR site and performance wasn’t impacted at all. No one noticed any difference. This has enabled me to sleep at night because I know now if something ever goes wrong, we can switch over to DR,” Walton said.