Red Hat Storage Server Makes the Grade for the University of Basque Country

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June 16, 2014

The University of the Basque Country/ Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV/ EHU) needed to create a new complementary platform to meet the storage needs of its 50,000 students, teachers, and researchers. UPV/ EHU chose Red Hat Storage Server to meet performance and cost-control requirements.

Customer: University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

“With Red Hat Storage Server we have not only been able to respond to our storage needs, but also maintain a tight control on costs.” - Iñaki Ortega, head of production for ITC, University of the Basque Country/ Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

Industry: Education
Geography: EMEA
Country: Spain


Business Challenge:

UPV/ EHU had a centralized storage solution that met the storage needs of corporate applications. However, this platform proved to be very expensive and complex with little scalability to cover other simpler, non-corporate needs such as teaching and research material. The university needed to create a new complementary platform to meet the storage needs of its 50,000 students, teachers, and researchers.

Hardware:

Intel servers

Benefits:

Red Hat Storage Server now provides the university with performance and security that meets all the needs of the entire school, all at a reasonable price. Because it’s open source, Red Hat Storage Server gives UPV/ EHU greater flexibility when acquiring new hardware or employing their inherited facilities, as the university can choose between manufacturers it regularly works with.

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Background:

The University of the Basque Country/ Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV/ EHU) is the public university of the autonomous Basque Country region in Spain. This institution, with more than 50,000 students, professors, and researchers, offers a wide range of studies and produces around 70% of the research undertaken in the Basque Country. It is, according to the Shanghai ranking, one of the top 500 universities in the world. The UPV/ EHU is spread across three campuses, one in each of the territories of the Autonomous Basque Community (Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, and Álava), and totaling 32 faculties and schools, from which more than a quarter of a million students have already graduated.

Business Challenge:

Higher education, higher storage demands

The University of the Basque Country/ Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV/ EHU) had a centralized storage solution that met the storage needs of corporate applications. However, this platform proved to be very expensive and complex with little scalability to cover other simpler, non-corporate needs such as teaching and research material, which are just as imperative in an educational environment.

Not only do these other needs require a large storage capacity, but they also demand rapid response times to provide students and researchers with the storage resources they request as quickly and conveniently as possible.

The university needed to create a new complementary platform to meet the storage needs of its 50,000 students, teachers, and researchers.

Solution:

Reliable, open source storage for better performance

The first option UPV/ EHU considered was the implementation of a pay-per-use storage service by a local integrator, and the university acquired two servers equipped with Intel processors and large discs. However, because of a lack of definition of the project, the system did not yield the expected results, and university officials considered other alternatives guaranteed to meet its needs in a professional and reliable way.

As a university, UPV/ EHU already has a clear commitment to open source solutions; they turned to Red Hat to discuss their storage needs, as most of its systems already ran on Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®. To that end, university technicians evaluated various Gluster-based options, from the community supported shareware version to Red Hat Storage Server and other business alternatives.

UPV/ EHU chose Red Hat Storage Server not only because it met all the performance, scalability, and cost-control requirements the university demanded, but also for the product’s reliability.

A flexible and adaptable option

The first stage of the project was the execution of a proof of concept (POC) to try the solution and design a road map.

“With this POC, Red Hat demonstrated the flexibility and adaptive capacity of their solutions, in addition to the possibilities offered by their software to maximise legacy resources by our organization” said Iñaki Ortega, UPV/ EHU’s head of ICT production. “Our servers were not part of the certified hardware list for the Red Hat solution. However, they made every effort to adapt the solution to be able to implement Red Hat Storage Server using the equipment we had available.”

Once the POC was successfully executed, implementation of the definitive project commenced. Red Hat Consulting technicians were heavily involved in the project—two Red Hat systems engineers were at the university for a week, along with UPV/ EHU and Nextel technicians (a Red Hat partner who participated in the project).

“We are very pleased with the way Red Hat engineers carry out the work and the results we have achieved. They sorted out in no time all the difficulties and problems which usually arise in such projects, and thanks to a multidisciplinary team, we were able to meet all our set objectives,” said Ortega.

The new storage infrastructure currently supports 70 terabytes distributed over 4 nodes, and UPV/ EHU aims to continue increasing capacity as storage needs rises. The scalability provided by Red Hat Storage Server enables capacity increases at a controlled and reasonable cost.

Benefits:

Scalability and cost control

Red Hat Storage Server now provides the university with performance and security that meets all the needs of the entire school, all at a reasonable price. Because it’s open source, Red Hat Storage Server gives UPV/ EHU greater flexibility when acquiring new hardware or employing their inherited facilities, as the university can choose between manufacturers it regularly works with.

“With Red Hat Storage Server we have not only been able to respond to our storage needs, but also maintain a tight control on costs,” Ortega said. “In other words, we know the annual cost of a terabyte, and we are aware of the cost associated with disk expansion. In addition, with affordable subscriptions, we rely on Red Hat’s support in the face of any eventuality.”

“We have worked for many years with Red Hat within the area of servers, both physical and virtual, and we are very satisfied with them. Luckily, we have seldom used the support services, but when the need arises, they respond quickly and very well,” said Ortega.

Although this storage project is still in its preliminary stages, the university is already seeing its first practical uses, as researchers have started to use the infrastructure to develop their projects. Research teams require that the university is able to provide between 12 and 20 terabytes of storage to undertake their researches. Thanks to Red Hat Storage Server, this is now possible.

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