A Datacenter Filled With Small Servers
As the economics of cloud computing continues to evolve, many school districts are asking whether moving their entire datacenters to the cloud is the best way to improve IT response and keep IT on budget. There are certainly advantages to some cloud services, and any modern educational IT infrastructure should contain some elements that are cloud-based. But there are also reasons to keep some IT functions local. For those, a datacenter furnished with multiple small servers can be the perfect answer.
Converged, Not Hyper-Converged
The arrival of converged systems means that educational IT professionals have an ideal answer for many applications. Notice that it's converged systems we're talking about and not hyper-converged systems.
The highly virtualized and automated operation of a hyper-converged system is perfect for organizations with rapidly changing load levels and requirements, but most educational IT systems value stability and regularity. For those characteristics, the overhead of the hyper-converged system is difficult to justify.
Converged systems have little additional overhead compared with separate components deployed around a datacenter and a host of benefits. Converged systems tend to reduce, rather than increase, the management load of an IT staff.
There are physical savings that come from putting as much as possible into a single rack enclosure
There is the assurance that all of the components are certified by the vendor to work together
Ultimately, the key to justifying and successfully deploying small servers in a district datacenter boils down to understanding the applications that prefer the local hosting treatment.
Examples of data that might benefit from staying on local servers rather than being transported to cloud servers include:
Sensitive personnel records
Student records with personal identification information left intact
Where The Cloud Comes In
That is not to say there's no role for cloud services in the modern IT infrastructure. The secret is understanding which data can best be stored in the cloud and which needs to remain in the local datacenter.
The decision should be somewhat easier with a converged datacenter because an integrated hardware stack can be configured to more easily be deployed as part of a hybrid system with cloud services.
The networking piece of the converged stack is especially important to ensure that data is shared as part of a seamless process, rather than simply being passed off from one type of computing equipment to another.
From an economic standpoint, the self-hosted pieces of the infrastructure have an advantage in that the ongoing cost will be fixed over the life of the converged stack. That cost can be lower than many professionals anticipate because, for most districts, small servers will be sufficiently powerful to handle the applications and data sets required. Current Techhologies has found that when multiple small, on-site servers combined with the right cloud services, the result will be a secure, economical IT infrastructure that will handle school needs for years into the future.