Networking & Wireless | News

Australian Secondary School Deploys Ethernet Fabric To Support IT Operations

Daramalan College, a secondary school in Canberra, Australia, has implemented Ethernet fabric technology to improve network performance and support increased network traffic resulting from real-time video streaming and administrative operations.

Over the past two years, the school has overhauled its network infrastructure. The first two phases of the project involved upgrading the campus local area network (LAN) and core network, but those improvements created a performance bottleneck for server access. The school had begun to virtualize its server environment, but each server had only a single one-gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connection to support virtual machines and a virtual LAN connection to the storage array, which was affecting performance.

"In a sense we'd become victims of our own success," said Rob Wilson, IT manager for Daramalan College, in a prepared statement. To solve this problem, the school embarked on the third phase of its network infrastructure upgrade, implementing Ethernet fabric to support server access.

Working together with Correct Communications, the school selected Brocade VDX 6720 switches and Brocade VCS Fabric technology to replace its legacy server access infrastructure. Since Daramalan College had implemented Brocade switches in the first two phases of its network upgrade with positive results, the school didn't hesitate to work with the company again.

The school is using the VDX 6720 switches for its high-availability infrastructure to connect its server farm to the rest of its network. The switches are interconnected over multiple 10 GbE links to create a low-latency, single-layer Ethernet fabric with multiple 10 GbE links to its core network. According to a news release from Brocade, the switches enable the school to establish fully redundant, high-bandwidth connections to its servers and storage array, with each device connected to the VDX 6720 switches over 10 GbE links that are load-balanced to maximize performance. The switches also automatically establish high-performance virtual machine-aware connections over the Ethernet fabric without any legacy network protocol issues.

The upgrade has been a success. "The deployment of the Ethernet fabric between our servers and the network core has been a triumph," said Wilson. "Once we had finished upgrading our servers and storage with dual 10 GbE interfaces, the network felt crisper, more vibrant and dynamic. Even the students noticed and commented."

In the future, the school plans to implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative and move toward virtual desktops, and the server-based processing and online storage upgrades will support those projects as well.

"The days of relying on consumer-grade technology for school networking are over. It simply can't deal with today's heavy IT workload," said Wilson. "With Brocade's advanced, but cost-effective, switching technology we have a seriously fast network that positions us ahead of the curve and ready to handle massive growth in network traffic over the next few years."

Daramalan College is an independent secondary school located in the southeastern Australian city of Canberra. The school serves more than 1,460 boys and girls in grades seven through 12.

Further information about Brocade's Ethernet fabric technology can be found at brocade.com.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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