Comin up for Air part a

November 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Coming up for Air

When do you come up for air? Many teachers use half-terms to clear a back log of marking and I am no different, but what of those teaching staff that are also responsible for IT Services? The challenge for those middle leaders with this duality is, down time for one role is peak time for the other.

This half term I have 4 set of class assignments to mark, 120 scripts, approximately, 5 minutes a script. On top of this I had two meetings, one with Gideon Williams from Perins School to discussion IT infrastructure and Sims2Moodle but as ever the meeting also included some resource collaboration and teaching idea exchange, more of that later. The second meeting was with Ian Tasker to ensure that the schedule of work was met. This included completing the Netbook deployment and preparation of both the loan units and the Digital Leaders netbooks. The Digital Leader units are a slightly modified netbook and the students are then used to pilot netbook developments and offer constructive ‘rock-face’ feedback. In our experience this group are extremely insightful and their contributions have been vital. Jobs left incomplete, the Skoogle facelift and cabling. Finally, we received delivery our new hardware, just over £22,000 investment in a blade server set-up, replacing servers at the end of their warranty and providing us with the much needed flexibility for growth in the new building.

What is perhaps more important is the redundancy and develop opportunities that virtualisation offers. The benefit is much improved continuity, server consolidation and reduced power costs (20%). We can now run both live and development platforms of all our key services, Sims, Moodle, Joomla as well as future platforms such as Wordress, Elgg and Mahara before going live. Expansion is then much more viable with blades costing £2500 and space is no longer an issue.

Following comparison quotes with 4 suppliers, primarily looking at IBM, HP and Fujitsu, we were impressed with Fujitsu communication and willingness to support our staff. Without significant staff experience of both blades and Fujitsu kit – we were keen to get onsite and extended Fujitsu support. During installation we were supported by an engineer, who first presented to our staff and then supported the installation process, providing our staff with the much needed reassurance to configure the Fujitsu  ETERNUS DX80 and PY BX620 S5 Dual Server Blades with fibre channel san. (Now thats a step into the unknown for me!). Further specifications details, Intel® Xeon® E5504 4C/4T 2.00 GHz 4 MB and VMware ESXi 4.0 UFM Device and Serverview embedded. (Now I am all teched out!) By the end of the day, we were up and running with a virtual Windows 7 machine connecting to the internet. We are now ready to migrate our IT services and deploy development suite of our key services of the next few weeks. Our thanks to Nick Francis at Vorkus for their first class service and continued IT support.

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