Building for the future

Building for the future

When the time came to upgrade Sunraysia’s IP voice system, the TAFE institute realised its current datacentre and network infrastructure didn’t offer adequate support for it. An overhaul of its datacentre facility was required.

Designing and building a reliable datacentre environment for educational facilities can be an arduous task considering the number of users on the network and the potential complexity involved around planning and implementation.

But that was the situation faced by Optus-owned integrator, Alphawest, when it was awarded a contract to install a new IP telephony solution across four campuses and upgrade the datacentre for Sunraysia Institute of TAFE in Victoria.

The datacentre is housed at the main campus in the rural settings of Mildura. The education facility caters for more than 8000 students and 300 staff, so reliable physical infrastructure is crucial.

The datacentre facility is responsible for supplying services to the staff and students such as library databases, mail server, financial databases, e-learning systems and student management systems.

In the Mildura region, power surges and sags are common, which further added to the school’s power issues.

Switching on

When the Office of Tertiary Education and Training approached Sunraysia about its intentions to implement a voice project, the institute realised its existing power and cooling facilities weren’t able to support it, according to the Institute’s IT manager, Ross Goonan.

“We had no visibility or control of the environment in the datacentre or network nodes,” he said.

The education facility’s original data network had reached end of life and the physical infrastructure was unreliable. The equipment couldn’t monitor and manage the school’s computer environment, Goonan said.

On top of that, the air-conditioning couldn’t cope with the harsh weather conditions in the Mildura region, with systems freezing in winter and suffering under the heat during summer.

The ageing uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) couldn’t be effectively managed across the network and they weren’t providing an adequate level of protection to keep up with Sunraysia’s specific uptime requirements, according to Goonan.

In response, Alphawest proposed building a new datacentre while also upgrading LAN infrastructure, switching equipment and installing new IP telephony and unified messaging technology.

To help build the new datacentre, the integrator partnered with APC. Cisco equipment was used for the network upgrade and voice services.

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