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Today's college students use their mobile devices constantly. They want instant access not only to social media, but also to campus services. For the approximately 17,000 students at California State University, Chico (Chico State), technology is essential. “Today's students are highly technically savvy. They want more, they want it faster, they want it better,” says Ray Quinto, associate director of Computing and Communication Services (CCSV). With each new incoming class, the IT team works to keep pace and meet their needs faster and, because the university is part of the 23-campus California State University System, within the constraints of the state's budget.
We can provision servers a handful at a time in a day or two instead of taking weeks. That's how quick it is to turn around workload and compute.
Ray Quinto Associate Director, Computing and Communication Services, California State University, Chico
In 2009, when Chico State migrated from physical servers to virtual machines using VMware, CCSV realized that centralized backend storage was essential. The new storage would have to integrate into their existing data center network and support Oracle Real Application Clustering environments. NetApp provided the solution.
Then and now, virtualization and storage needs drove much of the IT department's work. Today, the team runs 400 VMs from the NetApp AFF8060.
Flash technology has improved workflow speed for the university's paperless systems, particularly for admissions. The department processes 35,000 multipage application documents annually. Spinning disks could manage only 160 IOPS, while AFF enables the baseline 8,000 IOPS the group needed, and even more. Faster processing speeds save the department 14 to 15 seconds per page, resulting in savings of 100 to 200 business days every year. It's also improved workflow and speed for CCSV, especially in their test environments.
Implementing the flash system resulted in happier students and employees, and a greener campus. “Part of our job is being good custodians of the state's resources,” says Quinto. For the team, that means making the most of the budget given to them, speeding up the workflows for university staff, and rising to the technological challenges a new generation of students sets before them.