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Founded in 1911, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is the Hong Kong’s leading institution of higher learning and also an internationally recognized top-tier university for years. It has the most Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences/Engineering of any local institution, and many of its scholars are amongst the top 1% in their field according to ISI’s Essential Science Indicators. HKU ranked No. 4 in Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2020.

HKU ITS Cloud Infrastructure: In Urgent Need of Upgrade

In fulfilling the mission of extending lifelong learning opportunities for the community, HKU has proposed the Vision 2016–2025 that sets the goal of building Asia's global university. A modern, innovative and flexible support platform is essential for realizing the goal. The Information Technology Service (ITS) of HKU is one of the key components of this support platform. ITS builds the most advanced IT environment that supports the teaching, learning, research, and administration of HKU, and will provide professional operation support for HKU to materialize the Vision 2016–2025.

The ITS facilities include an advanced campus network, powerful central servers, high-performance computing (HPC) clusters, cloud computing, and modern learning environment. The ITS offers a broad portfolio of services, including portal service, learning management and lecture capture, research computing and user support, coupled with centrally coordinated software and web/app-based administration and management applications.

In addition, to improve network throughput for the ever-increasing demand for online learning, global exchange, and other upgrade projects, the ITS plans to expand the existing cloud infrastructure. The expansion will help HKU realize the Vision 2016–2025 faster and provide adequate technological support for the university community.

Huawei E9000 Converged-Architecture Blade Computing Solution: Tailored to HKU ITS

The Huawei E9000 converged-architecture blade computing solution is tailored to HKU ITS, which aims to improve the service availability and reliability and build a more modern, innovative, and flexible support platform.

Huawei E9000 blade server is a next-generation infrastructure platform based on a converged architecture. The server combines computing and storage with switching and management in a single device, and supports rapid configuration and automatic Operation and Maintenance (O&M). In addition, it supports the integration with the existing non-Huawei devices and basic application software, as well as future upgrades. Huawei equips the E9000 with quality components, independent air ducts, and passive midplane design. The stringent component selection and innovative design ensure the high reliability of the E9000, allowing it to operate stably at 40°C (104°F).

In this solution, Huawei E9000 blade server chassis is configured with the CH121 V5 high-performance compute node, which is optimized for virtualization, cloud computing, HPC, and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) services. The compute node that runs on the next-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors combines powerful computing, flexible configuration, and intelligent energy saving with premium quality, smart management, and open integration. The server supports full-lifecycle intelligent O&M for more efficient deployment and O&M.

In terms of network connection, each compute node provides dual switching planes for flexible networking, including two 10GE IP network ports that are used for network connections and two 16 Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports. Each group of network switch modules provides four uplink 10GE SFP+ ports and four GE electrical ports that can be configured with management ports and back up LAN connections. The configuration helps the customer reduce costs on switching networks and improve network performance. The excellent network connection enabled by the Huawei E9000 converged-architecture blade computing solution will definitely boost the IT service efficiency of HKU.

To support smooth network communication on heterogeneous platforms and boost service efficiency, each SAN switch module of the E9000-based solution provides one uplink 16 Gbit/s FC port that connects to the heterogeneous infrastructure based on FC SAN switches and to other storage devices, such as Huawei OceanStor 5500 V5 Storage System.

Huawei Computing: A Perfect Option for HKU ITS

Thanks to the rapid deployment by the project team, the E9000-based solution was successfully delivered in July 2020. In real-world scenarios, the solution supports the virtualization platform and can easily allocate dynamic resources such as computing, memory, network ports, and disk volume. It also supports resource allocation between virtual servers on the same physical server. In addition, the E9000-powered solution fully supports the VMware HA and VMware live migration features. The solution built on such advantages perfectly supercharges the service performance of HKU ITS.

The network communication offered by the solution supports communication on heterogeneous platforms, which are not limited to the network switch, SAN switch, and management network segment. The E9000 blade server supports simple network management protocol (SNMP) event monitoring and can be easily integrated into SNMP-based networks for system monitoring and software management, ensuring secure, smooth, and efficient network communication.

Looking forward, Huawei will continue to partner with HKU to provide quality computing products, solutions, and professional services that are tailored to ITS in a timely manner. Together we will strive for offering high-performance and high-reliability infrastructure services for ITS.

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