University uses flash storage to improve online collaboration

Western Oregon University speeds educational, operational and financial decisions, enhances online collaboration

flash-storageWestern Oregon University (WOU) IT staff knew they needed to improve storage capacity, speed and downtime issues, due largely in part to the demand for professor and student access to e-learning platform Moodle.

Professors use Moodle to enhance classwork with an online capability that incorporates video, quizzes, and other content into their courses. Hundreds of students sought to log on to Moodle every week, and performance sagged.

Founded in 1856, WOU prides itself on providing effective, technology-powered learning opportunities. It was an early adopter of virtual desktop infrastructure, providing close to 5,000 undergraduate and more than 600 graduate stu¬dents with easy access to applications from multiple campus computer labs.

Teaming with NetApp and partner Mountain States Networking, WOU moved its high-input/output applications and databases to a NetApp EF-Series flash array. The array maximizes uptime with full redundancy and automated failover. With flash storage, WOU benefits from the extreme performance, reliability and availability needed to drive greater speed and responsiveness.

“When it comes to technology, leading universities must deliver unsurpassed learning capabilities, such as engaging video lectures and online courses that extend beyond the classroom,” said Bill Kernan, CIO, Western Oregon University. “For IT, that means we constantly strive to raise the bar to meet technology requirements. NetApp flash storage has allowed us to reach a capacity of more than 1,200 concurrent users while pro¬viding exceptional system performance campus-wide. People think of storage as being totally behind the scenes, but at WOU, it’s front and center in defining the user experience.”

With its new solution, WOU can:
• Handle 10 times the number of concurrent users of its media-rich applications, in 95% less processing time, to deliver the superb user experience that helps the university remain competitive.
• Run business intelligence reports for its administrative staff in 20 seconds, instead of six hours, delivering insights in near real time into the state of its operations.
• Reduce back-up time from over an hour to just nine minutes – with no downtime – providing the assurance for students and staff that their key content is safeguarded.

Western Oregon University and NetApp will host a “Need More Speed” webinar, where they will share more information about the flash deployment in a webcast at 11 a.m. PST on January 19. Register here: http://nt-ap.com/1OKKPFd.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione