University of New Mexico overhauls data center for advanced security needed for its R1 status.

From the invention of rocket fuel and the discovery of AIDS to the origination of the Internet, and to the current advances in genetics, today’s research (R1) universities drive new science and innovations that transform how we work and live.

As an R1 university, the University of New Mexico (UNM) is no exception. The university gives the highest priority to research, with the aim of presenting new knowledge and applications of value to academic communities and the public worldwide.

However, in order to achieve this laudable mission, UNM requires IT systems that are reliable, fast, nimble and offer the highest level of security. Achieving this level of IT optimization is no small challenge for any university.

R1 Means Advanced Security

To attain this, higher education institutions must occasionally make sweeping changes to existing infrastructure as systems grow older and less efficient. Such a process began at UNM about three years ago, when the University determined that its data center network needed a complete overhaul to provide improved security.

With 31,000 students and 9,100 faculty and staff under UNM’s care, maintaining this level of security is a massive undertaking. Not only does the University need to protect the data of each individual student, it must ensure that every bit of research material—an astronomical amount of data—is highly secured as well.

To begin with, the underlying infrastructure was simply not in place, and required an enormous endeavor to fix. UNM also wanted to move from a hardware-defined datacenter to a software-defined datacenter (SDDC). UNM decided that automated configuration and management of the pooled, vendor-independent hardware allows for the best price/performance choices for the underlying physical infrastructure.

(Next page: Choosing network virtualization and the case for software networks)

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