How Marist College Canberra unlocked IT autonomy

How Marist College Canberra unlocked IT autonomy

Marist College Canberra has been simplifying its IT infrastructure, freeing up teachers to focus more strongly on student experience.

Sam Walton, ICT Systems and Operations manager, and his five-strong team are responsible for providing the IT infrastructure and rolling out new projects that keep students connected and continue to improve their learning experience.

“From an IT perspective, schools are always a complex environment,” Walton said. “Not only are we a relatively large school with more than 2000 end-users including students and teachers, but we also offer many extracurricular activities. The role of IT is to support all the different departments and all the applications they want to run in a single environment.”

Walton said maintaining such a complex environment with a legacy three-tier datacentre architecture including servers, storage and networking – a system created decades ago – would be a resource-intensive challenge. A recent investment in Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure, however, freed Walton and his team to deliver greater value to the school.

“Nutanix is the heart of our digital learning experience,” he said. “We went from a full rack of SANs (storage area networks) and hosts which were much more complicated and required a lot more maintenance just to keep running, to Nutanix which is essentially ‘set up and forget’.

“In our IT team, we have to know so much about everything, so the really good thing about Nutanix is that it just works – I can’t be dedicating resources to maintaining the environment every week. The infrastructure we have now means my team can focus on more strategic projects for the College.”

Another benefit, according to Walton, has been the reduced hardware footprint which has in turn reduced the College’s energy consumption.

“IT infrastructure, particularly outdated infrastructure, can be a major energy burden,” he said. “Instead of a full rack, we’ve gone down to six RU (rack units) in our production environment. This has reduced power consumption to the point we’re now downsizing our UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which provides emergency power if the main power source fails.”

Marist is also using three Nutanix nodes for its on-campus Disaster Recovery (DR) environment which keeps systems going in the event of an outage, and another three nodes for object storage, which enables greater data scalability for the school.

“DR is now instant,” Walton said. “For example, late last year I had to move everything to the DR site and performance wasn’t impacted at all. No one noticed any difference. This has enabled me to sleep at night because I know now if something ever goes wrong, we can seamlessly switch over to DR.”

Walton also said he has worked closely with Nutanix partner, Qirx, which has been instrumental in guiding the College during its architecture transformation.

“Qirx has been incredible. They’ve been a trusted partner, making sure the College gets the best outcome. They’re not about pushing products. They understand every school is different, has different challenges, and needs different solutions – and they really took the time to understand what would work best for us.” 

Jim Steed, Managing Director - ANZ at Nutanix, said Marist College Canberra has ensured the best learning experience for its students, both today and into the future.

“With its IT team liberated from having to keep the lights on, Walton and the Marist IT team can focus on the things that matter – like improving the student and educator experience – rather than putting out fires and constant maintenance. At Nutanix, we believe IT infrastructure should be invisible so organisations like Marist can focus on what they do best – educating the next generation of Australian leaders,” Steed said.    

The original version of this article appeared as a media release from Marist College Canberra.