University of Cyprus Embraces Next-Generation Storage with Huawei
As the leading university in Cyprus, the University of Cyprus (UCY) has a student body of over 7,000 undergraduates and postgraduates. In line with the constant evolution of the global education market, UCY is on a mission to expand its reach and unlock new opportunities by harnessing the power of technology.
Investing in robust IT infrastructure is critical to its future success and is regarded as pivotal to attracting high-calibre researchers, students and staff from an international pool of academic talent. Through its dedicated IT Infrastructure Service function, it ensures that infrastructure and IT are both fully aligned to the university’s goals and aspirations.
The IT Infrastructure Service identified a need to upgrade its incumbent three-tiered spinning disk virtualization storage with an all-flash solution. Implementing a new storage solution would deliver a raft of benefits, including, performance improvements across virtual machines, reduced transfer times between virtual machines located in different sites and quicker backup times, while simultaneously increasing the availability of disk space. Finally, it would also lay the foundations for new file-sharing services directly from the storage.
All of these factors were of major importance against a backdrop of rapidly increasing data storage volume requirements, with the number of virtual machines also growing significantly with each passing year. Streamlining the management of data via the use of storage file-sharing services would also drastically reduce the man-hours required for maintaining an effective service.
As a public sector organisation, UCY is obliged to publish tenders based on the European e-procurement guidelines. Such guidelines provide complete transparency on the technical requirements of the project in order to ensure that these can be met by a potential solution, while also ensuring spending is allocated in the most effective and responsible way possible.
From a technical perspective, a number of key selection criteria were identified. The desired solution needed to provide a minimum deduplication ratio of 2.5:1, 75TB all-flash raw disk space, and CIFS/NFS storage. After carefully evaluating proposals from five different vendors, UCY appointed a leading Cyprus-based systems integrator, on the strength of its proposal, which was comprised of solutions from Huawei.
The centrepiece of the package was the Huawei OceanStor Dorado 5000 all-flash storage solution.
At a time when the global IT sector was feeling the effects of major component shortages, Huawei products offered a unique advantage in that they could be delivered within a 45-day window. The project duration was required to be no longer than three months to account for the necessary planning, installation, migration of data and training of personnel, however, this was even shorter in practice, enabled by the speed of delivery of the solution and ease of implementation. This meant the University could access the benefits of the technology within a shorter timeframe, whereas, the use of alternative solutions would have incurred significantly longer lead times, resulting in delays to project completion.
The solution was also able to fully satisfy the technical requirements of the project, and the systems integrator was able to get the new system operational in a straightforward and efficient manner, working in collaboration with UCY and with support and guidance from Huawei, when required. The outcome of this was that there was no downtime on any service during the migration process.
During the course of the project, there was a scenario where the UCY team required urgent technical assistance on a matter entirely unrelated to the data storage project. The responsiveness and expertise of the Huawei team allowed for a quick and comprehensive resolution.
Now that the project has been successfully delivered the benefits are plain to see. It has yielded substantial improvements in terms of the overall performance of the virtualization environment, while drastically reducing the amount of time required for vmotions of virtual machines across storage sites.
The value of meeting the deduplication ratio of 2.5:1 is that UCY now has access to 275TB of storage space per storage. More than 18 months on from project completion, there have been no functional issues or reported failures of any kind, which has allowed UCY to derive the full benefits of the solution without any drain on resources. For a cost-sensitive public sector organisation, the solution was optimal from both a technical and financial perspective, costing 62% lower than the actual budgeted price, and significantly lower than the prices offered by competing vendors.
“The project has been a huge success on every possible level. Not only do we have a reliable technical solution that meets our requirements for performance, reliability, functionality and ease of operation and maintenance, the price point was also hugely compelling. This has transformed our data storage capability, enabling us to consolidate our IT infrastructure more broadly. The added value of being able to access Huawei’s technical expertise was vital in helping us to overcome a separate issue we were facing, leaving us certain that we had made the best possible choice.”
IT Officer, University of Cyprus