Case Study: Consolidation & Virtualization

SJR State College IT Group Examines Options and Builds IT Road Map in Mainline Discovery Workshop


St. Johns River State College


Palatka, Florida

The Issue

  • Align SJR State’s IT processes with business needs
  • Develop a systematic plan to meet future needs
  • Keep up with rapid growth
  • Develop a disaster recovery plan
  • Develop a strategy for a consolidated storage platform
  • Move data center operations
  • Improve service
  • Gain better control and security
  • Reduce IT costs

The Solution

  • A technology partner to help align SJR State’s vision and overall IT plan
  • Mainline Discovery Workshop to build strategic IT road map
  • Mainline “inspection process” and subsequent recommendations on storage technology, business continuity and disaster recovery, enterprise monitoring, IT service levels, multivendor maintenance, and IT governance strategy
  • Mainline Professional Services

The Results

  • Developed IT road map to address current and future IT needs
  • Defined technologies that were best for disaster recovery environment
  • Developed process for specific solution selection
  • Presented two solutions for each recommendation area
  • Defined the best disaster recovery environment in sync with the college’s goals
The Issue

Mike Hawkins, the CIO of SJR State College, was facing a number of challenges. These included the college’s rapid growth rate resulting from new offerings of web-based instruction, which provided the impetus for the transition of the school from an eight-to-fiveo’clock business operation to one supporting a 24/7 instructional environment.

In addition, the plane crash alerted management to its shortcomings in storage technology and disaster recovery, including the college’s non-matching storage solutions from different vendors, the limited DR capacity in the current system and its need to replicate data rapidly.

Hawkins also was interested in changing the desktop environment from individual PCs to thin clients in order to improve the quality of service, have better control and security, and reduce IT costs.

After an analysis of the situation, Hawkins was convinced that the college needed a whole new level of IT capability and needed to move the main data center from Palatka to Jacksonville. He also was looking for a technology partner who could help him align SJR State’s vision and overall IT plan. He turned to an account executive at Mainline Information Systems, an IBM Premier Business Partner, for advice. The account executive had worked with Hawkins previously on SJR State’s consolidation and virtualization and understood its operations. He suggested a full-day Mainline Discovery Workshop that would bring together Mainline executives, subject-matter experts and SJR State’s IT management people.

Mainline Discovery Workshop
The Discovery Workshop took place in Palatka. The focus was on better aligning the college’s IT processes with its business needs. The college’s mission was discussed and the current environment examined with a 14-point “inspection process” that covered a broad range of topics, including hardware, system software, applications, IT processes and finance. This information helped develop a strategic IT road map that prioritized projects based on their value to the college and on anticipated future needs.

“The Mainline Discovery Workshop helped us by first bringing together in one room the IT experts from Mainline, who presented options and worked with us on setting priorities, and the SJR State IT team that would be responsible for pounding out a decision and implementing a new strategic initiative,” Hawkins explains. “It proved to be a great way to educate our people about how Mainline could partner with us and provide the most value to the college.

“We explored technologies that would best fit with our existing IT infrastructure, while fulfilling our ‘must have’ list,” he continues. “This list included a new level of capability, additional DR capacity, replication features, a single storage management solution, a disaster recovery center in Orange Park and [a] virtual desktop infrastructure to replace the college’s 1,200 PCs.

“I also wanted to change the current location of the data center to Jacksonville and to create a mirror system in Palatka by replicating data back there,” Hawkins says. “This would make doubly sure that the college’s data would always be kept out of harm’s way.”

The Solution

The Mainline team prepared a comprehensive report that provided more detail on what was discussed in the Discovery Workshop; the results of the “inspection process;” and recommendations on storage technology, business continuity and disaster recovery, enterprise monitoring, IT service levels, multivendor maintenance, and IT governance strategy. Then, Mainline hosted a conference call to present these recommendations to Hawkins and his team.

SJR decided to place the IBM Blade Center H Series and six IBM Blade Servers at a commercial data center in Jacksonville and put an IBM BladeCenter H chassis with four IBM Blade Servers at the existing data center in Palatka. Two IBM System Storage N series, one in Palatka and the other in Jacksonville, provide the college with plenty of room to grow. Mainline Professional Services provided the configuration, installation and implementation for the project.

The Results

“The decisions that we made were the direct result of what was covered at the workshop,” says Hawkins. “We consolidated the storage platform across the organization, following the recommendations on storage consolidation, replication and virtualization.

“The most important result of the Mainline Discovery Workshop was the process that led us to our storage solution and to establishing two identical data centers,” Hawkins elaborates. “Two solutions were presented and the pluses and minuses of each solution were discussed to determine the best fit.

“The Mainline Discovery Workshop helped us define which technologies were best for our disaster recovery environment,” Hawkins explains, “and selecting common management of the two systems was very important to us.

“The Discovery Workshop road map helped us strategically plan for our current and future IT needs, ensuring that the plan was in sync with the college’s goals and objectives,” he concludes. “The information from Mainline’s Discovery Workshop was part of every decision we made.”

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“The Mainline Discovery Workshop helped us define which technologies were best for our disaster recovery environment.”
Mike Hawkins

Chief Information Officer, SJR State College