With growing demand and shrinking government funding, the academic world is entering the cut and thrust world of the enterprise, leaving behind the heady days of dusty corridors and dreaming spires. One of the ways that universities are building their prestige is by increasing the volume of research they carry out – not only does research tend to attract students and income from all over the world, but it also helps them win additional government funding to support their existence.
It’s a virtuous circle, as this government funding can then be used to provision richer research and learning facilities, which, in turn, helps drive academic achievement, post-graduate employability and the interest of top students from all over the world.
There’s only one small hitch to this seemingly flawless plan. This research culminates in a hefty pool of data, which needs to be stored securely and delivered in a fast, non-disruptive and scalable manner -and in the most cost effective way possible. Up until now, many academic institutions have collected and stored data in a fairly ad-hoc manner, with papers tucked under desks and digital assets scattered around hard drives, but they are all starting to recognise the need for a more robust data storage solution.
This is one of the reasons that a number academic organisations across Europe, including City University London and the Royal Veterinary College, have opted for solutions from NetApp. The use of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) gives a greater degree of flexibility, and is easy to manage using limited resources. It’s quick to deploy across different student networks and, finally, it provides an easy way to customise desktops, which is great for educational institutes, working with many different groups and subjects.
The combination of VDI, supported by a single pooled storage system such as NetApp’s FAS systems using flash technology, further enhances the efficiency and performance and helps to scale capacity based on whatever workloads are thrown at it. The flexibility of a VDI solution, along with the introduction of storage efficiencies and data modernisation also paves the way for transitioning to a future private or hybrid cloud solution as the university’s data storage needs develop.
In many ways, the academic world is not entirely dissimilar to the world of business – it has to run a work environment, with HR, facilities, remote sites, finance, marketing and other internal operations. Most crucially, it has to try to stay ahead of the competition, satisfying the ever-increasing demands of students.
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