The challenge for the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) was typical of many districts that had grown technology over the years on an ad hoc basis: “We had servers everywhere doing everything and everybody was in charge of anything,” recalls Elbie Yaworsky, chief technology officer for PPS. “It was a network nightmare from start to finish.”
Last year, Yaworsky began the task of seamlessly integrating technology by creating an environment that was flexible, that did not have any physical, virtual or logical limitations. “We wanted one cohesive environment that would provide us the flexibility to have a combination of blade server technology and multi-processor systems, and be able to dynamically allocate all available resources to specific applications when appropriate. We also wanted to blend storage area network [SAN] drives and network attached storage [NAS] devices to achieve an optimal balance of price/performance. In addition, we needed to be operating-system agnostic, to allow us to evaluate any application regardless of platform.”
The PPS brought in an independent consultant to help evaluate the available technologies from various suppliers. The findings were in favor of HP, Yaworsky reports. “We started leaning towards HP because its solution allowed the dynamic allocation of resources across a blended server environment, and the ability to bring up and down Microsoft Windows and Linux servers in a rapid deployment mode. The level of service we had experienced over the years — for the legacy HP desktops and servers that were in place — was excellent. We were very confident that the PPS would be well looked after by HP.”
At the conclusion of the design phase, the enterprise level implementation at Pittsburgh Public Schools included: 122 HP ProLiant BL20p G2 blade servers as the Web-access, front-end servers to the applications; 22 HP ProLiant DL580 servers to host five mission-critical applications; and the remaining key applications located on 23 HP ProLiant DL380 servers. In addition, a 6TB HP Storage- Works EVA Storage Array, two HP StorageWorks NAS e7000 Storage Drives, two HP StorageWorks MSL5060 Tape Libraries and 14 racks were selected. Services chosen included 152 Carepaqs, System Integration Services, HP Consulting, MAPS and Learning Paks.
“The pre-staging was very important to us because of the limited size of our IT staff. When the equipment arrived, it only needed to be moved into the computer room and plugged in according to the color coded connectors ? it was incredibly straightforward.”
In fact, the transition has been “outstanding,” says Yaworsky. “Our new infrastructure is based on an enterprise management model enabling operational control of all resources from one remote console. Essentially, we’ve transitioned from a classic server lights-on environment to a lights-out data center ? increasing the security, reducing power consumption and lowering operational overhead.
“Right now,” he adds, “we’re still turning off the old servers to discover what they do.”