Blue Springs School District

Topic : Smart Campus
2500+ Employees
Networking

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Blue Springs School District

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BLUE SPRINGS SCHOOLS GRADUATE TO SMART CAMPUS

Missouri School District Adopts Private Cloud Centralized Server Model, Cuts Power Consumption

Located on the edge of Kansas City, MO, the Blue Springs School District comprises 22 elementary, middle, and high schools. The district employs some 1,000 teachers and 2,000 staff members, and has over 14,500 students. With such a large population to support, the IT team was stretched thin operating its distributed systems – 144 servers, to be exact – spread out over 23 locations.

The Blue Springs School District recently upgraded their network backbone to 10Gbps, fully leveraging their existing Avaya network infrastructure. Looking at centralizing its servers into a true data center model, the district decided to implement a centralized smart storage solution from Nutanix. This construct would allow the district to automate OS updates, run VMs, and run applications on an efficient storage core of Nutanix appliances, instead of a distributed model across different sites using multiple servers. 

Confidence in the existing Avaya backbone, in place for four years, is what led the team to Nutanix, according to Tim Jones, Blue Spring School District IT Director.

“Our Avaya backbone was one of the reasons to go to a centralized datacenter model. I knew we had a backbone that could handle it,” he said. “We could bring all the data and services back to one centralized location. We felt very confident we weren’t going to have any issues as far as connectivity.” 

Smart Campus: Sustainability + Simplicity 

Centralizing the data center meant choosing appliances that would not only save the district money but would be easy to manage. Nutanix appliances were installed within less than a week on the Avaya core network. Blue Springs School District didn’t seriously consider using other providers for its infrastructure; instead, the district made minimal upgrades to the Avaya backbone by purchasing VSP 7000 switches for the data center.

Once the two Nutanix smart storage blocks were installed, Blue Springs School District began the task of moving its data. At the top of the list was virtualizing print servers, and then moving domain controllers for staff and students. Over winter break, the IT team migrated email to the Nutanix appliances. As spring approached, the rest of the school year was spent moving data from building servers. The operation was remarkably smooth, according to Jones. 

“Now we’re managing one data center, not 21 data centers.”

Tim Jones, Blue Spring School District IT Director

Blue Springs School District

"Now we’re managing one data center, not 21 data centers,” he said.

Meeting State-Mandated Standards

The Nutanix appliances on the Avaya backbone came at an opportune time for the Blue Springs School District, as new student testing requirements kicked in. For the first year, students in grades 3-11 – not just high school students – would be taking their standardized exams online. The testing provider sent its list of requirements, which included a test site management (TSM) server for every 150 machines in any district, to ensure the testing load could be handled. The Blue Springs School District has over 10,000 computers, and had no desire to set up 30 to 40 TSMs. Instead, the IT team configured a single TSM for the entire district. 

“We believe in the power of the Nutanix appliance and our backbone infrastructure to make things work,” Jones said.

It took approximately 20 minutes to set up the TSM on a Nutanix appliance, running over the Avaya backbone. “You can click what you want – this much memory, number of processors – and apply it,” Jones said. The district took six week to test the single TSM model. During testing, there were no issues. After the test period, students across the district were able to log in for practice tests without a hitch. 

$100K in Power Savings 

“When you turn off a hundred servers, you’re saving yourself a lot of money,” Jones said. The Blue Springs School District team calculates that the district’s electric bill has been cut by some $100,000 on an annualized basis with the centralized server model. 

User satisfaction with the network and computing environment is high following the data center implementation. “People comment that they wish their internet at home was as fast as it is here,” Jones says. The district has deployed new staff machines with i5 processors, and by all accounts, the machines are lightning-fast.

“When you turn off a hundred servers, you’re saving yourself a lot of money.”

Tim Jones, Blue Spring School District IT Director

The Nutanix implementation is expected to pay for itself in 36 months, according to Jones. It runs smoothly and quietly, so quietly that, unless someone physically enters a closet to check on an appliance, there is no perceived noise. 

Avaya Fabric Connect in the Datacenter 

The Blue Springs School District has plans to continue upgrading its Avaya backbone, and to look at Avaya Fabric Connect for the core. “We have no real reason to look anywhere else,” Jones said. “Everything we do, we’re either pushing it to the cloud or putting it in our datacenter as much as possible.”

For the Blue Springs School District, running Nutanix over an Avaya backbone has created a smart campus foundation providing generous bandwidth and speedy network connectivity to end users, enabling the district to meet state standards, and reduce expenditures. 

“If I were talking to another school district to look at virtualization to handle common core testing and the traditional school load,” comments Jones, “I would feel absolutely comfortable recommending Avaya and Nutanix.”

“I would feel absolutely comfortable recommending Avaya and Nutanix.”

Tim Jones, Blue Spring School District IT Director

Blue Springs School District