Imperial College London taps Brocade for IP network expansion

NOVEMBER 12, 2009 -- Brocade says that Imperial College London has added Brocade FastIron SX 800 and SX 1600 10-Gbps switches to increase network capacity for departments and third parties using its data center facilities.

NOVEMBER 12, 2009 -- Brocade says that Imperial College London has added Brocade FastIron SX 800 and SX 1600 10-Gbps switches to increase network capacity for departments and third parties using its data center facilities. Brocade asserts its architecture has reduced backup times by 50 percent and cut £15,000 from the college’s annual support costs. The equipment was supplied by Brocade’s partner, Calyx.

Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research, with particular focus on engineering, medicine, natural sciences, and business. Ranked top in the UK for research, Imperial College has over 13,000 students, 6,000 staff, and an annual income exceeding £600 million.

Dathan Birrell, Imperial College London’s network operations manager, explained, “The university’s data center estate has grown by 50 percent in three years and uptime is paramount. Network performance and resilience has been massively improved and our Layer 2 data center ring now has sub-second failover. Such resilience means that we can operate in the unfortunate event of an outage -- even the loss of an entire data centre -- and still offer highly available services to our stakeholders.”

Brocade says its systems have significantly reduced central backup times; what now takes between four and six hours previously would have run into the next working day. Says Birrell, “Our Exchange Mail servers are the biggest stores to back up quickly, and by creating a Layer 2 backup LAN utilizing the Brocade switches we’ve reduced the time to do so by 50 percent. We also see this performance as an enabler to migrate from our legacy PBX solution to VoIP services, all thanks to the head-room offered by 10-Gbps performance.”

Because of the reliability of the Brocade infrastructure, Imperial College estimates that it has saved £15,000 per annum on support as business day cover is all that is required, not 24/7 monitoring.

Imperial College has three data centre locations on its South Kensington Campus, all offering redundant power and cooling supplies, rack space, and centralized storage and backup. While considerable investment has been made in creating a multi-vendor network environment, the university has standardized on Brocade’s FastIron range of SX switches for access-layer server connectivity in these data centers, linking them together with a 10-Gbps Layer 2 metro ring.

Birrell continued, “In effect we’ve created a fully managed, internal co-location facility where centralized IT systems are provided or systems hosted. The investment in this data center-class technology is then made available to other organizations. For example, The Royal College of Music, Natural History Museum, and some commercial and charity organizations all locate their IT with us, too.”

In 2006, two Brocade FastIron SX 800 and two SX 1600 chassis-based switches were deployed, with the university now adding one more of each (and additional line cards) to increase capacity.

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