BoP Polytech reboots IT infrastructure

Storage, network and student management systems replaced

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has ditched an EMC storage area network (SAN) and Cisco network switch in favour of Hewlett-Packard systems, as part of a major overhaul of its IT infrastructure.

The multi-year effort is also seeing a replacement of the polytechnic’s student management systems.

IT manager Rabindra Das says the SAN replacement was driven by the fact the existing technology was five years old. However, that considered, moving away from Dell/EMC was a big decision, he says. A key factor was the fact that there are multiple users of HP storage in the Bay area.

“It’s an additional resource to call on. I can’t think of any other EMC SANs in the area.”

Another factor was the cost, which he claims was around half the price of others on the market.

“The others were probably a bit overly complex for the budget involved,” he says.

The SAN was bought from and implemented by Gen-i. The network switch upgrade, which also went to Gen-i, is now implemented, replacing Cisco with HP ProCurve technology.

“We had a drop-dead date and Cisco was unable to meet it,” he says. “There were one or two glitches, but on the whole it was pretty smooth.”

A Cisco spokeswoman told Computerworld that significant components shortage affected supply timelines for Cisco and many other vendors.

“Generally this situation is managed directly between the supplier and the customer, but we appreciate that there will occasionally be circumstances where a customer needs to make a decision based on supply expediency rather than an explicit change in long term supply strategy.”

The current student management system is called ProMIS and is built on Progress. The replacement project will see Artena, from Student Management Software Solutions (SMSS), implemented alongside some custom development for areas now serviced by custom software up to 14 years old. These include gym membership, ID card management, network logons and so forth.

SMSS is a collection of New Zealand tertiary institutions that have joined together to maintain a common student management application, which records student enrolments and maintains financial and statistical information.

Das says the student management part of the project is the smaller part of the two.

He estimates there will be 650 development days involved, with analysis and design going through to September for sign off by the council and executive.

That will be followed by around eight months of development aiming for a September 2011 go-live date.

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