New networking and virtualization environment improves e-learning for Portage College
Portage College is a public college serving northeast Alberta. From humble beginnings in 1968, the college has steadily grown and now offers more than 40 certificate and diploma programs.
Portage College was facing a number of challenges due to its growing population. Its rapidly growing desktop and software image management requirements had become too large a burden on the college's small IT team. The growing number of concurrent, virtual Windows desktop sessions led to a deterioration in performance. The servers became overloaded and the storage simply couldn't handle the required I/O operations. The College's legacy datacentre and networking infrastructure was simply not robust enough to support this type of environment.
The college needed a robust VDI environment capable of hosting hundreds of virtual desktop sessions concurrently, and to enable authorized users to access that environment via both wired and wireless connections on campus or to connect remotely.
Following an assessment, Compugen completely rebuilt the college's virtual desktop, datacentre and network infrastructure. The solution, based on a design certified by Cisco, NetApp and VMware, combines the Cisco UCS integrated computing platform, advanced Cisco wired and wireless switching and routing technology, including Cisco Nexus V1000 Virtual Switches, and a NetApp SAN, all supporting a VMware hypervisor and virtualization software.
"Rather than trying to retrofit and grow what we had, we decided to have Compugen redesign and rebuild our datacentre infrastructure properly from the ground up, based on their experience, leading products and industry best practices," said Lee Gosselin, Network and System Administrator, Portage College
The college now boasts a new datacentre with robust server, storage and network infrastructure. The new network is optimized for virtualization performance and capacity, including support for up to 500 concurrent virtual desktop sessions across multiple sites. The results include:
- Staff and faculty can now access standardized images and authorized applications from their workstations or from home, enabling flexible work schedules and disaster/pandemic planning;
- Students can continue to use their own devices for personal use, while also having secure access to their virtual desktop and to college resources from classrooms, labs or residences;
- Instructors can remotely access computer labs to test functionality, validate application versions or request updates and modifications;
- The IT team, relieved of a growing desktop management problem, is now better able to respond to user requests.
"Instead of continually adding components to a legacy infrastructure that wouldn't scale properly, the longevity of our new solution will be measured in years," said Gosselin.