St. Edmund's College picks VMware over Microsoft and Citrix because of 'better functionality'

By Sooraj Shah
02 Dec 2013 View Comments
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Hertfordshire-based St Edmund's College has selected VMware's vSphere over alternatives from Microsoft and Citrix because it offered a range of functionality that the others could not match.

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The school's network manager, Stuart Winfield, told Computing that in August 2010 his team reviewed all of the different systems on the market, with VMware's vSphere being the frontrunner.

"It was the most trusted hypervisor out there that could cater for the main features we were looking for such as thin provisioning and high availability. The main benefit for the school was to try to save money and have a lower total cost of ownership [TCO]," he said.

A formal tender process was not carried out. Instead, the college evaluated all of the systems on the market and looked at some of the basic pricing mechanisms.

"We looked at Citrix very briefly early on and we discovered that it would probably have worked fine in a standard business set-up, but in a school we've got a lot of multimedia apps and video streaming within the organisation and we wanted something that could accommodate that, but Citrix wasn't getting the best reviews at the time," Winfield explained.

"We looked at Microsoft, which would have been the cheapest available to us but it seemed clear that in terms of functionality they didn't have what it took to ensure that the system would work as it should. We also looked at a few smaller companies, but we decided we really wanted to go with a brand name," he added.

After deciding on VMware's vSphere, the college started implementation, virtualising the school's 20 physical servers, cutting the number down to three. It now has 42 virtual servers. IT reseller RivaNET assisted with the implementation, and was then selected to virtualise the college's desktops.

Winfield explained that power consumption was a key reason into looking at VDI.

"With the use of IT increasing, the number of desktops and laptops was increasing, meaning that more power was needed. We're on quite an old site and some of it is 350 years old, meaning that the main power supply is quite old so it can't handle the load it was put under. Because we're in the countryside, we don't have a gas supply so all heating systems are electric, and as certain areas of the college get overloaded in the winter, we'd get a lot of power cuts," he said.

Winfield said that zero clients use 20 per cent of the power that a normal desktop PC uses, and were therefore a good way of lowering power consumption.

"Since we implemented a VDI solution, we saw a lower power usage, lights that used to flicker stopped, and over the first winter we didn't have a single power cut caused by power overloading," he stated.

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