Noel Baker Community School uses Dell’s automated infrastructure to respond to IT demands more efficiently.
Noel-Baker Community School says it expects to save £29,000 in costs after deploying Dell’s end-to-end solutions.
Lee Jepsen, networking manager at Noel-Baker School, tells CBR that he started exploring new systems after learning that the school was set to rebuild its campus.
"We needed the best way to consolidate everything down to a smaller server, but also increasing the amount of machines, more laptops for students and every single teacher," he explains.
"We had a lot of different machines, HPs and whitebox brands, which were all very difficult to manage. The physical servers also had racks that were completely full and using a lot of energy"
Jepsen looked at two deployment software kits from RM and HP before settling with Dell’s end-to-end solution.
"It all came to costs…and Dell has always come out as the better price and the better service" he says.
The solutions included Dell servers, storage and networking computing devices, Dell Optilex and Latitude computers, as well as Dell’s Kace systems management appliances.
The IT team, which comprises of nine people, decided to implement the solutions themselves, which took about two weeks in total.
"It did save some money, which meant we could have more kit, people ratio was higher and we could spend a bit more money on the data centre side," he says.
Although there were no hardware or integration issues, the delay of the new building made carrying out the problems a "massive" challenge.
"We were supposed to open on September 3 but, unfortunately, because the building was delayed, it didn’t fully efficiently open till September 11, a week later," he explains
"We were working all through the night getting the machines out once we had the building handed over to us, in time before the kids got back."
The back-end data centre and computing devices, which include Windows 7 and Windows server 2008 and 2012, are helping teachers and students learn in a more engaging way, according to Jepsen.
The IT team, which has offices in Nottingham and Birmingham, provided a one-to-one ratio of computers including Dell’s Latitude laptops to students. It also installed Dell OptiPlex desktops in the library and for teachers’ desks in every classroom.
As a result, teachers are able to access applications and files during lessons, meaning they don’t have to configure their laptops with surrounding equipment, such as projectors and printers, every time they move classrooms.
Students also have access to the resources anytime they need to complete coursework.
Ken Harley, education sales director at Dell UK, says: "The education sector has becoming increasingly reliant on technology to deliver next generation learning and teaching methods."
The servers consist of six hosts with two large Equallogic Sans. If servers were to fail, says Jepsen, they could move to the next available server.
The installation also save the IT team time as it takes away the effort that comes from providing basic user services, allowing them to focus more on strategic and higher-level tasks.
Jepsen says he expects to see savings of £29,000 to £30,000 over a year, thanks to the automation of administrative processes such as software distribution and patching, which used to take days to complete.
"When you repair a machine, if you do it the old-fashioned way, you’ve got to use the Windows disc," explains Jepsen
"Using the K1000 and K2000, we can deploy machines if someone’s software has stalled. We can help them very quickly and without interrupting their lessons, taking their computer off them or moving students away from some machines that currently have to be rebuilt."
Another benefit of the Dell-based back-end infrastructure is that schools can offer IT services to neighbouring educational institutions and charities.
"The main drive behind it was really the lack of funding from the government to support staffing, when we were told redundancies were coming to try and bring some extra income into the schools," explains Jepsen.
This has now raised the school’s profile within the community and is generating income to fund other IT projects and services.
"Lots of schools have now come to us wanting us to help them upgrade to look at their next best solution plans, be it investing money into ICT or what they should buy based on what they currently have," he explains.
It has also helped to put the school at the forefront of IT innovation within the education space, he says.