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Unleashing IT Magazine, Summer 2013


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Brought to you by Cisco and Intel, Unleashing IT is your technology-focused business resource for data center best practices. Whether you're thumbing through our print publication, or navigating the different industry topics, videos and other collateral available on this site, you'll find insights and advice from industry experts, real-world experiences you can relate to, and technology trends that are impacting business strategies.

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Unleashing IT Magazine, Summer 2013

  1. 1. Summer 2013 In collaboration with Intel® ­­­Unleashing IT Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. • Cloud-based video streaming • The new API economy • Virtual desktop infrastructure Betting on the cloud Jeff Brooks, CIO of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos, is using the cloud to unify operations and create new business opportunities. Page 7
  2. 2. Share with a colleaguefacebook twitter Unleashing IT is published by Cisco Systems, Inc. To receive future editions of Unleashing IT and provide feedback on the articles in this edition, visit: Intel and the Intel Inside logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. ©2013 Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Cisco, the Cisco logo, Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco UCS, and Cisco Nexus are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. To view a list of Cisco trademarks, visit: www. Third party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. (1307) Strategies & Solutions 03 Open for business: The new API economy Application programming interfaces (APIs) are emerging from the technical weeds and becoming an influential business tool. 05 Enterprise video streaming, simplified in the cloud Why a growing number of service providers and enterprises are delivering video from the cloud. Experiences 07 Betting on the cloud Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos is establishing a “triangle of resiliency” and creating new business opportunities. 09 Moneris does business—and technology—right How Canada’s largest credit and debit payments processor is keeping pace in a fast changing industry. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Feature 11 Collaborative. Mobile. Secure. Beyond virtual desktop infrastructure: A new type of workspace that addresses business, IT, and user needs. 12 Customizing the computing experience for 100,000 users Lone Star College System has combined a private cloud with dynamic desktop computing to deliver more value for students and faculty. 13 Extending education beyond the campus Oaks Christian School is expanding its online program and student services with server and desktop virtualization. 14 Modernizing education IT With a new technology infrastructure, The College of Idaho is fostering experimentation and innovation among faculty members. Cover: Jeff Brooks, CIO of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos ­­­Unleashing IT Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. Summer 2013 New pathways to business success The trails of business achievement have been well trodden. They are proven, often profitable, and generally safe. But they are not the only routes to success. This edition of Unleashing IT is all about new pathways, and the trailblazers who are forging them. The companies and trends highlighted in the following pages show how different strategies and operating models—enabled by advanced technologies—can carve out new go-to-market, revenue, and growth opportunities. For example, a number of companies are using application programming interfaces (APIs) to leverage their proprietary data and scale their business in new ways (page 3). Others are putting their video assets in the cloud to boost their agility and innovation (page 5). Organizations like Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos are creating new opportunities for customer and community support (page 7). And Moneris Solutions is delivering differentiated services in an increasingly commoditized industry (page 9). To blaze these new trails, companies need to think differently. They must question the well worn routes of the past and present, and search for the new roads that have yet to be paved. As always, we stand at the ready to support and enable your pathfinding and trailblazing efforts. For more information, follow the links inside or contact Cisco at 1-800-553-6387 and select option 1 to speak with a Cisco representative. We welcome your feedback on the articles in this publication at Sincerely, Giuliano Di Vitantonio Giuliano Di Vitantonio Vice President Cisco Systems, Inc. Shannon Poulin Vice President Intel Corporation In collaboration with Intel®
  3. 3. 3Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. Strategies & Solutions Business has always been built on competitive advantage, creating or offering something unique. Or marketing, selling, and distributing it better than others. Maintaining a competitive edge has traditionally demanded a significant measure of control: protecting intellectual capital, dictating the “how, when, and where” of product and service delivery, and safeguarding the resources and assets that help drive a business forward. Releasing this control would appear to be a colossal business blunder, a major threat to an organization, its competitive advantages, and its ability to succeed. But application programming interfaces (APIs) are changing such notions, breaking through longstanding business rules and the barriers they uphold. “By exposing and sharing proprietary data and applications in new ways,” says Todd Cramer, Director of Product Marketing for the Data Center Software Division at Intel, “companies can realize new business opportunities, new value, and new revenue streams.” Out from the weeds At first glance, APIs appear specialized and limited, buried in the technical weeds. A set of protocols and specifications, they enable applications to interact with each other and prescribe how those interactions are handled. They also allow developers to create new programs and services that connect to and extend applications, commonly referred to as “mash-ups.” By exposing and sharing proprietary data in new ways, companies can quickly scale their business and reach entirely new markets. Open for business: The new API economy
  4. 4. Unleashing IT4 But APIs are no longer just a technology tool. They are becoming a sweeping and influential business tool. “In the past, companies would establish one-to-one relationships with partners and customer sets,” says Kin Lane, The API Evangelist. “If a business is a hub, the organization would create each spoke individually. In the new API economy, you’re allowing others to create spokes for you.” “APIs offer unique opportunities for customer and partner stickiness,” says Nilesh Panicker, Senior Manager of Cisco Support APIs. “By letting others directly incorporate your data into their existing workflows, you are delivering more value and allowing them to create new value.” This means companies can syndicate their data assets, allowing partners to do more work for them, faster. This not only fosters new growth, product, and distribution opportunities— it can also create entirely new markets. From commerce to social to enterprise The broad use of APIs started in the e-commerce realm. Companies like Amazon and eBay quickly scaled their partner and customer ecosystems using APIs. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have also liberally employed APIs to stretch their tentacles throughout the web. “The rapid growth of mobile applications, cloud computing, and social networking are all being driven by APIs,” says Lane. “These aren’t just technology opportunities, but massive business and market opportunities. They’re creating new ways of partnering, new ways of scaling, and new ways to facilitate commerce.” As a result, emerging markets are rising, while others are falling. Netflix took on an entrenched industry when it launched its streaming video service. In moving its digital assets from a tightly controlled data center to the cloud and giving others access via APIs, Netflix was able to decouple its service offerings, connect with new distribution partners and platforms, and scale its business globally. Balancing enablement and risk Despite the notable—and increasing— benefits of exposing and sharing internal applications and data, challenges and risks remain. Companies that aren’t careful can face privacy, legal, branding, payment, and licensing issues. They can also unintentionally cannibalize their pre-existing business models. “You still have to create effective APIs with sound rules and definitions,” says Lane. “It’s a matter of opening up your business, but on your terms.” “APIs should be planned and developed carefully,” Panicker recommends. “We’ve been successful by focusing on our customers’ and partners’ use cases and ease-of-consumption.” Cramer and Lane suggest starting slowly with APIs and learning along the way. Establish a formal API strategy and treat it like any other product development program. Open up the lowest-risk data, conduct pilot projects with trusted partners, and then expand the use of APIs over time. It can be scary and uncomfortable, but organizations must be willing to give up a measure of control. “Help is available,” notes Cramer. “Intel is investing in API technologies, and we recently acquired Mashery, a pioneer of API management. Solutions like the Intel® Expressway API Manager, which bundles Mashery technologies, can help improve application management, security, and adoption.” “There is a balancing act between risk and enablement, open versus controlled,” says Lane. “Companies must be willing to give up some control and let others play with their stuff. They must be more transparent. And they must be willing to experiment.” In the new API economy, are you open for business? Demo and proof of concept For more on API management, visit: api-management. For a custom demo or proof of concept from Intel, contact: 1-855-229-5580 or
  5. 5. 5Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. Increasing demand, growing complexity, numerous formats, multiple networks, and disparate devices: why delivering video from the cloud just makes sense for service providers and the enterprise. Do you have a Netflix subscription? Do you download movies to your tablet, or access YouTube clips on your smartphone? At first glance, these consumer video diversions may not seem very relevant to the world in which you work. But the technology behind such innovations is being rapidly adopted by the enterprise, while becoming increasingly complex for service providers. As a result, it is causing disruption across the whole value chain— from media companies to advertisers—and is changing the global landscape for content distribution models, in living rooms, boardrooms, and enterprise IT shops. Enterprise video streaming, simplified in the cloud Strategies & Solutions
  6. 6. Unleashing IT6 The demand for streaming video in multiple formats has accelerated exponentially, thanks to the popularity of smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. In fact, the 2012 Olympics marked the first time online viewing surpassed traditional viewing—but it certainly won’t be the last, says David Parsons, a Vertical Manager in Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG). “This is one of those times where a technology that started in the consumer domain has worked its way into the enterprise,” Parsons says. “There is a whole proliferation of devices you can access video content on. And if you are an operator, this makes your life very complicated.” The need to stream to different devices is only the tip of the iceberg, he says. “There are massive storage requirements for umpteen different copies of files. You have to store versions for different speeds, and broadband speeds can vary depending on the load on the network.” Compounding the problem, says Bill Gerhardt, a Director with Cisco IBSG, are the many new ways that enterprises are using video. These include content delivery networks (CDNs) for distributing education and training modules, for setting up log libraries, and for delivering live content to customers. “Although still small compared to the broader entertainment distribution business models, there is growing interest and innovation in the enterprise,” he says. This sudden increase in demand has left companies grappling with multiple assets, formats, and rights management issues as they search for more efficient, cost-effective ways to centrally manage the added complexity. This is where cloud-based streaming solutions start to make sense. Staying agile and innovative “There is a growing need in the enterprise to deliver video in varying degrees of quality and in varying conditions of network availability,” Gerhardt says. “You need to give yourself as much agility as possible so you can innovate as fast as possible and meet the needs that this emerging market is going to continue to demand.” One way that video streaming in the cloud helps companies stay agile is by lessening their reliance on hardware investments, he says. Constantly trying to integrate around hardware in such a rapidly changing environment can be difficult, which is why many technology providers are so excited about software-enabled solutions (in fact, Cisco has made a number of software acquisitions in recent months, including BroadHop, Cariden, and Intucell). Speed up innovation by reusing common assets By streaming video in the cloud, companies can combat scope creep, keep costs down, and offer packaged solutions to the enterprise in a timely way that is device, hardware, and network agnostic—all within a consistent, centrally managed environment, Gerhardt says. This is because the right cloud solution should eliminate the need to integrate multiple silos of similar content. “This way, I can start to mix and match my assets and bring in different technologies where I need to. At the same time, I am lowering my costs because I am reusing the same assets over and over again. And hopefully, I am increasing my scale because I am reaching out to more and more individuals who can actually consume my content,” Gerhardt explains. “And that, at the end of the day, is the goal of the game—to try to get as many eyeballs on my content as possible.” So, are cloud-based video solutions right for you? Whether you are an enterprise user or a service provider, step one is simply to understand your audience, Gerhardt explains. “Next, you need to know what you are trying to deliver, what that media content looks like, and how many different renditions of that content will need to be provided—and under what circumstances,” he says. “Clearly, there are a lot of media distribution options available in the market. Whether they are used for consumer entertainment or managing the enterprise, their requirements are rapidly changing. So decision makers need to look at the supply of alternatives, compare them, and understand what they do differently,” he continues. “But then ask yourself if there is a better way, by migrating those common assets into a common environment known as the cloud, that starts to give you more flexibility, more opportunity for service creation, and more innovation—hopefully at a lower cost.” More information For the Cisco IBSG “Streaming Under the Clouds” white paper, visit the Resource Center at: “This is one of those times where a technology that started in the consumer domain has worked its way into the enterprise.” David Parsons, Vertical Manager, Cisco IBSG
  7. 7. CIO Eric Slavinsky works with Cisco and LG&E and KU operations personnel to drive change CIO Jeff Brooks (left) works with Senior Systems Analyst Bryon Fowler (right) to develop new customer services and promotions 7Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. Betting on the cloud Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos’ data center and cloud strategies are creating a “triangle of resiliency” and new customer and community support opportunities. Gaming revenue is the lifeblood of casinos. When the games go down, profits fall with them. “If all of our games were to stop working, we would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars every hour,” says Jeff Brooks, CIO of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos, which runs nine casinos in eastern Oklahoma. “In our business, downtime is a very bad thing.” It’s also a reality when your operations are located in “Tornado Alley.” The organization has faced devastating twisters, extreme flooding, and the power outages that come with them. Such events have wiped out the casinos’ server room batteries and backup generators, debilitating data, communications, and gaming systems. Previously, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos’ business applications—from human resources and accounting to timekeeping and email to point-of-sale and gaming software— were decentralized and managed by each casino property. And yet, the casinos were supported by a lone data center with little to no storage capacity or backup capabilities, creating a single point of failure. “We needed more redundancy,” says Brooks, “with better application and administration flexibility.” Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos have a two-phase plan. The first phase: Unify the casinos’ business applications while simultaneously expanding the infrastructure that supports them. The second phase: Build an internal cloud that streamlines technology administration and costs, while creating new opportunities to drive revenue and support the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Experiences
  8. 8. Unleashing IT8 (From left) Senior Systems Analyst Bryon Fowler, Network Analyst Mark Davis, CIO Jeff Brooks, and Senior IT Manager Kim Sanders bring resiliency and flexibility to Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos Expanding infrastructure, unifying applications To keep gaming and business operations running, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos is expanding its technology infrastructure from one data center to three, tied together using a sizeable metro area network (MAN). With a FlexPod foundation—featuring the Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (UCS), Intel® Xeon® processors, Cisco Nexus® switches, and NetApp storage components—the data centers will form a “triangle of resiliency” that delivers exceptional redundancy and fault tolerance. “Any of the three data centers will be able to take on 100 percent of our load at any time,” Brooks explains. “In the unlikely event that two of our data centers go down, we won’t miss a beat.” While Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos’ technology infrastructure is being expanded, its business applications are being brought together using a private cloud. Because nearly everything is virtualized, back office applications, gaming software, and storage resources will no longer be tied to a specific property. This will ease systems administration while also lowering licensing costs. “Instead of paying for software licenses for each gaming property,” says Brooks, “we will have a single instance that is used across all of our properties.” Driving customer and community support Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos’ new technology infrastructure is also delivering additional business insight and opportunities. With application data unified across the nine locations, casino leaders are using business intelligence and data analytics to better understand and serve their customers. “In the past, we couldn’t track our patrons’ activities across our locations and we couldn’t determine the ROI of our marketing activities,” Brooks explains. “We now have a much more holistic view of our customers, how and where they spend, and which promotions they respond to. Not just for games, but entertainment, point of sale, food and beverage, everything.” Deeper customer insights lead to better, more timely services and promotions, he adds, which improve customer attraction, retention, and spending. This will be critical for a new partnership with Margaritaville that will expand Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s flagship River Spirit Casino property in Tulsa. The expansion will include a new Margaritaville gaming area, hotel, entertainment venue, and restaurant. According to Brooks, the FlexPod infrastructure will greatly ease the development, deployment, and administration of Margaritaville data and communications services—and help maximize the revenue potential of the new venture. “We need to understand our non-gaming patrons,” says Brooks, “so we can grow that area of our business.” In addition to casino expansion, Brooks is planning to extend the Muscogee (Creek) Nation cloud beyond its core business. He foresees opportunities in the future to deliver a wide range of services—spanning healthcare, housing, welfare, and elderly assistance—to Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s 75,000 citizens. “The combination of Intel chips and Cisco UCS has been a key enabler for us,” says Brooks. “They are built for virtualization and the cloud, which gives us a tremendous amount of security, flexibility, and scalability, not to mention peace of mind. We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do with our new infrastructure—not only for our casino business, but for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.” Complimentary data center analysis For a custom, comprehensive analysis of the performance, scalability, and reliability of your data center, including recommendations for improvements, visit the Resource Center at:
  9. 9. 9Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. In today’s world of online, mobile, and card payments, consumers expect payment processing to be quick, efficient, and secure. Delays are more than just an annoyance–they’re unacceptable. Along with front-end convenience, however, comes a great deal of back-end challenge. “As basic processing services are increasingly becoming commoditized, the card processing industry is finding it difficult to maintain bottom line growth,” states a recent Capgemini report. “… Card processors have to focus on the development of new and better differentiated services to improve their offerings in order to remain competitive in the fast changing payment industry.”1 For companies like Moneris Solutions Corp. (“Moneris”), Canada’s largest credit and debit payments processor, differentiation translates into a strong focus on technology to support all aspects of business, from secure transaction processing to compliance to innovation. Just as consumers have no tolerance for point-of-sale delays, there’s no room for IT delays either, says Joe Belinsky, Director, Technology Services at Moneris in Toronto. “Our mission statement for technology is to be nimble, to be flexible, to really enable the business to do whatever they want without traditional IT lag in terms of responsiveness,” says Belinsky. “Having world-class, state-of-the-art architecture and computing capability is a key aspect of that. In fact, I would argue that we are a technology company, serving the payment side of financial services.” Keeping pace with change A joint venture established by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Bank of Montreal (BMO) in 2000, Moneris serves more than 350,000 merchant locations across North America, processing more than three billion credit and debit transactions each year. As one of North America’s largest providers of payment processing solutions, it also offers leading-edge electronic loyalty and stored-value gift card programs through its Ernex division. To keep pace with industry changes, the company has standardized on the Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (UCS) as its go- to enterprise server platform. The move replaces legacy hardware that was near end-of-life and goes hand-in-hand with a consolidation and virtualization strategy to downsize from three primary data centers to two. By the end of 2013, the majority of critical server workloads will be running on Cisco UCS™, including the Ernex production environment, which previously ran on a disparate set of technology. Belinsky Moneris does business–and technology–right Experiences Director of Technology Services Joe Belinsky helps Moneris keep pace in a fast changing industry
  10. 10. Unleashing IT10 estimates the online loyalty system alone performs 30 to 40 percent faster in the virtualized Intel environment at half the cost and footprint. Overall operational efficiency has also improved. “Our pre-existing platforms were giving my team a tremendous amount of heartache–maybe even heartburn,” says Belinsky. “To administer a patch or apply an update we had to take the whole chassis offline when what we really wanted to do is cookie-cutter workloads from server to server.” Performing vulnerability scans and applying patches to servers is an integral part of demonstrating Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance at Moneris. As Belinsky puts it, “non-compliance is a non-starter.” Prior to implementing a virtualization strategy, infrastructure management was chassis-specific and there was no way to obtain an enterprise view across more than 800 servers. Business demands for high availability and zero downtime meant it was difficult to schedule maintenance windows. Fast-forward to today and compliance is an automated process. Server templates are used to uniformly apply changes as needed and the concept of downtime is removed altogether. “We’ve cut our overhead and management by 60 percent or more relative to providing support and we don’t have to fight for downtime windows,” says Belinsky. “We can effectively move workloads at will, any time of day, for any purpose, whether it’s for disaster recovery, business continuity, maintenance, or operational objectives.” Good-bye menagerie, hello nimbleness For the applications group, the new server environment removes “the menagerie” of installing separate server workloads to support separate strategic initiatives, he adds. Instead, the infrastructure team is equipped to provide capacity on demand, which speeds time to market both in terms of transaction processing as well as the development and delivery of new products. One example is a new application targeting North American micro merchants who require credit card processing infrequently. The downloadable card reader works with smart phones and other mobile devices as needed, giving merchants an affordable alternative to dedicated services. Another example is an IP-based solution that enables merchants to securely connect to Moneris payment processing using public or private Internet services. “At Moneris, we have a constant strategy afoot to manage, certify, and support a variety of devices,” notes Belinsky. “IT promises to deliver nimble technology to the business and the business promises to deliver nimble technology to our clients. Server standardization is helping us to keep those promises.” 1 “Global Trends in the Payment Card Industry 2012: Processors,” Capgemini, 2012. Complimentary data center analysis For a custom, comprehensive analysis of the performance, scalability, and reliability of your data center, including recommendations for improvements, visit the Resource Center at: Belinsky’s promise: Nimble technology that can support a variety of customer services and payment processing options
  11. 11. 11Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Feature Trends like BYOD and the consumerization of IT have helped. New delivery models like cloud computing have also played a part. And yet, IT teams are still being asked to do more with less. Where do we go from here? Many IT leaders are advancing their virtualization journeys and positioning themselves as agents of change. They are looking beyond desktop virtualization to a new type of workspace, one that enables collaboration, productivity, and the creation of content and intellectual property. It’s mobile, flexible, device agnostic, and productive. But it’s also secure, manageable, and reasonable to control. According to an Independent study conducted by Forrester, 70 percent of IT decision makers surveyed are embarking or have plans to embark on virtualization or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) projects to provide users with applications and content from company- owned devices. 61 percent want to enable mobility or a multiple device strategy. 58 percent want to provide access to applications and data from employee-owned (BYOD) devices. And 30 percent intend to use VDI to enable new business processes.1 But who’s doing it and how? Academia is one industry that continues to blaze new virtualization trails. Alan Price, Systems Administrator at The College of Idaho, is on the cusp of piloting VDI capabilities on student laptops to replicate the lab experience off campus and in the dorms (page 14). Darrell Parker, Director of Information Systems at Oaks Christian School, has set his sights on VDI to address the pressures of BYOD as well as the needs of online school faculty and a global student body (page 13). And Link Alander, CIO of Lone Star College, is combining virtual desktop computing with a private cloud to customize the computing experience for 100,000 users (page 12). How can you leverage VDI to enable collaborative, mobile, and secure workspaces? First, assess your use cases and determine if progressive virtualization makes sense. Second, ensure the solution can deliver an equal or enhanced user experience. And finally, conduct pilot projects to evaluate cost, stakeholder satisfaction, organizational change, and potential applications for virtualization. 1 “The Next-Generation Workspace Will Revolve Around Mobility and Virtualization,” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Cisco Systems, June 2012. Complimentary VDI workshop To qualify for a complimentary Cisco Desktop Virtualization discovery, workshop, and for more information on Cisco solutions and services, visit the Resource Center at: Collaborative. Mobile. Secure. How virtualization is progressing beyond the desktop to address business, IT, and user needs.
  12. 12. Unleashing IT12 “We were at a critical juncture with IT,” recalls Link Alander, CIO of Lone Star College System (LSCS). “To be honest, we weren’t delivering value to the college or our students. We were only fixing problems.” The fastest growing community college in the U.S., LSCS had long struggled with network outages, server failures, and bandwidth issues. Alander wanted to be more proactive with IT service delivery, enabling LSCS faculty and students in new ways. So he formulated plans for application and desktop virtualization, ERP integration, and cloud computing. “We are a support unit, but we were spending more time supporting our IT systems than our students and faculty,” he explains. “We needed to change our perspective and approach. And that meant thinking less about IT, and more about educational problems and opportunities. IT is just a tool.” Instead of focusing on individual tools, Alander sought to develop a dynamic toolbox of technology services for LSCS. He wanted to give professors the ability to place new applications and resources in the toolbox to enhance their curriculum and teaching. He wanted to give students freedom to access the toolbox at any time, from any location, using any device. And he wanted the toolbox to deliver a seamless and customized experience for each user. “We needed to create a foundation for innovation,” says Alander, “so we rebuilt everything.” Before a private cloud could be developed, and before applications and desktops could be customized for students and faculty, LSCS needed to shore up its technology platform. Alander and his team deployed the Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (UCS), based on Intel® Xeon® processors, plus EMC storage and VMware software as the “foundation for innovation” supporting LSCS’s six main campuses and 11 outreach centers. “With a powerful and flexible platform in place,” Alander says, “we started looking at ways to leverage it to enhance student success and better prepare them for the future.” To make IT services more transparent, accessible, and easy to use, Alander and his team reached for the clouds. They established a private cloud that delivers computing resources to the college system through two core data centers and to students through a secure portal. They also employed external cloud services for certain applications. “Students and faculty don’t need to know where computing resources and services come from, as long as they are reliable and secure,” notes Alander. “And it’s often less expensive to use external cloud services versus building and managing them on our own.” A seamless computing experience is one thing. A seamless experience that is dynamic and fully customized for 100,000 users is quite another. To tailor the computing environment for each student and staff member, Alander and his team not only virtualized the school system’s applications and desktops, but also its users. Virtual user profiles are linked with a new ERP system and matched with course- specific services and computing resources. “You can’t just take a model and instantly apply it to 100,000 users,” Alander explains. “We’re using a phased approach, starting with general use cases, then personalizing the computing experience with internal resources, and then incorporating resources outside our network.” When students log in to the LSCS cloud, their desktop environment is automatically provisioned and dynamically customized with the right applications—based on the classes in which they are enrolled—and the appropriate amount of bandwidth, memory, and storage. As they log out, those compute resources are reallocated to active users to maximize utilization. “We’re still exploring new ways to deliver applications and services through the cloud, and new ways to teach with technology,” says Alander. “But we’ve come a long way. With a unified platform and a seamless, user-friendly computing experience, there are countless ways that we can spark innovation—inside and outside the classroom.” Complimentary VDI workshop To qualify for a complimentary Cisco Desktop Virtualization discovery workshop, and for more information on Cisco solutions and services, visit the Resource Center at: How Lone Star College System combined a private cloud with dynamic desktop computing to deliver greater value to its students and faculty. Customizing the computing experience for 100,000 users Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Feature
  13. 13. 13Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. Founded in 2000 with fewer than 400 students, Oaks Christian School’s growth has been vigorous, making IT modernization a necessity. It was 2008 when Darrell Parker, Director of Information Systems, started planting the seeds of virtualization. And now, with a student population of 1500 and a burgeoning online school, virtualization is entrenched from the server to the desktop, extending education far beyond Oak Christian School’s campus. “When we started the school, we bought physical servers, and everything ran on them,” notes Parker. “But as we grew, we needed ongoing availability for mission-critical servers and processes. We also had aging hardware that needed to be replaced. Server virtualization offered the insurance policy that we required, and desktop virtualization helped us extend the life of our hardware while broadening our services outside of the school and after hours.” Evolving the infrastructure foundation As part of the overall IT evolution, Parker and Senior Systems Engineer Ryan Aquino identified four core priorities: switch from traditional copper Ethernet technology to fiber; reduce power consumption; address heat in the data center; and support growing virtualization. After a rigorous ROI analysis, the Intel® Xeon®-based Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (UCS), complemented by a Nimble storage solution, offered the manageability and scalability to address their priorities. From an IT perspective, Aquino sees the greatest value in boot time and log in time improvements. “Multiple people trying to sign in simultaneously or multiple devices trying to get on the system seem to have no affect on the Cisco UCS™ platform,” he says. “We’ve also reduced the amount of hardware in the data center and eased our management burden by divesting ourselves of servers and devices. Service profiles allow us to configure a brand new blade on the fly, which saves time and money.” VDI enables education innovation With 1500 students, Oaks Christian School maxed out its campus and couldn’t extend the physical infrastructure to accommodate more students. At the same time that Parker was implementing Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp for desktop virtualization, his business peers were building and launching Oak Christian’s online school. It was a serendipitous fusing of business and IT strategy. Now, most of the online school faculty work remotely, and use VDI every day. “For our online school faculty, VDI is mission critical. It’s how they’re on our network,” Parker says. “We have students using VDI globally as well. We’ve had students in China and Germany using devices that don’t support flash-based courses or text books, so VDI becomes their only access to these critical resources.” Parker is also encouraged by the school’s readiness for BYOD. Students are opting for their own devices rather than using local computers on campus, which means adding more VDIs as demand grows. Parker already has plans to grow from 300 to 500 VDIs, and is confident the scalability inherent in Cisco UCS will allow his small IT team to keep up. “We’ve always looked at VDI as being a great solution for BYOD,” he says. “It’s a new delineation of responsibility. It’s our job to make sure there is a working virtual desktop for every log in, but it’s up to parents and students to have and maintain the device. By standardizing the platform from the server to the desktop, we can extend our services and enable our students, faculty, and staff to pursue quality work wherever they are.” Complimentary VDI workshop To qualify for a complimentary Cisco Desktop Virtualization discovery workshop, and for more information on Cisco solutions and services, visit the Resource Center at: Oaks Christian School leverages VDI to enable student flexibility, faculty productivity, and global reach with a growing online school. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Feature Extending education outside beyond the campus
  14. 14. Unleashing IT14 As a student who spent a lot of time in The College of Idaho’s IT department, Alan Price knew the network and infrastructure quite well. But becoming Systems Administrator at the college was an eye-opening experience. Performance was even slower than he had anticipated. In a position to affect change, Price prioritized storage, performance, and capacity to modernize the infrastructure and position IT as a true enabler and partner of the faculty. “We’re a small, four-year liberal arts college with budget and resource constraints,” comments Price. “But we still need to pay attention to industry trends and how students consume content. It’s my job to figure out how to deliver a modern education experience in a budget conscious way. My vision is to modernize— deliver more performance and a different way of doing things.” A need for flexibility and scale While Price, who has a background in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), was under no illusion that the college required the infrastructure investments of a large corporation, he did want to figure out a way to apply enterprise fluidity and flexibility on a smaller scale. Spinning up new services to enhance business application delivery or student experience is an excellent example. Prior to the infrastructure modernization, the first question Price asked when considering a new service was, “can we do this without slowing down our other applications?” He wanted cloud-like expandability without the on-demand capabilities. In Price’s mind, the status quo may have worked, but with newer faculty coming on board, there was an expectation of a certain baseline of services, and he was determined to provide it. The College of Idaho is using VDI to enhance the student experience. Modernizing education IT Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Feature Systems Administrator Alan Price is modernizing The College of Idaho’s IT capabilities
  15. 15. 15Seize innovation, accelerate business, drive outcomes. All through the cloud. That determination led Price to choose an infrastructure solution from Cisco and a storage solution from Nimble Storage. Implementing the Intel® Xeon® processor- based Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (UCS) gave Price the capacity, power, and performance to look toward future application innovation confidently. He also gained an efficient storage solution that offers high performance and speed, which meets the “click and it’s there” expectations of both faculty and students. Less IT, more innovation Price had several goals associated with modernization. First, he wanted to tackle the business necessities—upgrading a file server that was more than 10 years old with virtual drives to expand space, upgrading Exchange server to deploy 2013, upgrading Windows from 2003 to 2012, upgrades to the Moodle course management system, and upgrades to the ERP system and student portal. “With more storage and compute capability, people won’t have to involve me as much in the process of IT, and business applications will start working as expected because they won’t have to fight for resources,” says Price. “Our IT team is only seven professionals, and on the network and infrastructure side, I’m the only one. By using virtual resources the way they were meant to be used, we have faster, more responsive IT with fewer issues. So now, IT is about anticipating needs and trying to stay ahead of them instead of just responding to them after the fact.” The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon is exploding on campus, mostly in the form of students bringing laptops and faculty starting to leverage tablets in a more sophisticated way. As a result, professors are asking for an IT-enabled way to support students in doing their work wherever they have access to a computer or mobile device. In response, Price is exploring how to deliver VDI capabilities to laptops so students can have the lab experience off campus or in their dorm rooms. In addition to the remote lab experience, Price also wants to foster experimentation and innovation among faculty members. “We needed to align the support function of IT more closely with the frontlines of student education,” says Price. “With infrastructure and storage modernization, IT can mesh its subject matter expertise and enablement to create a culture where faculty can strategize and IT can implement. Our face forward now is, ‘how can I help you,’ instead of, ‘we need to focus on our stuff to make this happen, so you have to wait.’ There is a new spirit of collaboration between faculty and IT that’s serving to advance the college’s mission and student learning.” Cisco UCS and Nimble Storage solutions Leverage pre-validated and efficient VDI reference architectures with Cisco UCS and Nimble Storage CS-Series. For more, visit: http:// To qualify for a complimentary VDI workshop, visit the Resource Center at: (From left) Price discusses infrastructure upgrades with IT Support Specialist Sergio Arianguiz
  16. 16. Servers based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family At the Heart of Your Flexible, Highly Efficient Datacenter Designed to combine performance, built-in capabilities, and cost-effectiveness, servers based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family are at the heart of today’s evolving data center. Brilliantly versatile Designed to sit at the heart of diverse IT environments: • Enterprise infrastructure • Public & private cloud installations • Storage systems • Research and High-Performance Computing (HPC) • Embedded devices • Workstations Copyright © 2012 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.