NSMS logo

Case Study: Building An Enterprise Infrastructure Without An Enterprise Budget

In 2008 Business Services and Projects (BSP), the Information and Communications Technology Support Team (ICTST) and NSMS embarked upon a collaboration to implement an enterprise level server infrastructure with dual site redundancy and mirrored data storage. The goal of the project was to consolidate the servers from BSP, ICTST and Oxford University Library Services (OULS). The requirements were to provide:

  • Highly available services
  • Minimum single points of failure
  • Resilient storage configuration
  • Resilient against total site failure
  • Large resource pool

Using the expertise within NSMS the servers would be migrated from many physical devices to a virtual infrastructure using VMware's ESX software running on fully redundant hardware. The design of the solution was based upon a storage farm and an ESX farm being deployed at two separate locations (the OUCS machine and a machine room in the science area known as the Beach) linked by dedicated and redundant fibre. The detailed design was as follows:

  • 14 dual quad-core Xeon Dell 1950III servers with 32GB of RAM
  • Two 10GB dedicated fibre links between OUCS and The Beach
  • Ten LHN iSCSI SAN nodes providing 18Tb raw 15k SAS storage
  • Synchronous cross-site storage replication for data integrity
  • VI3.5 Enterprise for cross-site VMotion and High Availability
  • Redundant links to Oxford WAN utilising STP
  • Redundant network hardware utilising 2 x Cisco Catalyst Stacks
  • Redundant bridging firewalls at both sites

The project had a very ambitious timetable but nevertheless was successfully delivered on time in August 2008 after an 11 week implementation phase. Since handover, the ongoing management of the hardware and virtualisation platform has been undertaken by NSMS and the infrastructure resources have been shared between BSP and ICTST.

Up: Contents Previous: Case Study: Cost-effective Windows server management in the Department of Pharmacology Next: Case Study: Enhancing web services at the Museum of the History of Science