Case Studies Virtualisation Case Study – Gateshead College

virtualisation for education

Outstanding College make huge savings by going Virtual

Gateshead College is a top performing college in the north of England and one of only two in the country to be graded outstanding by Ofsted in the 2014/15 academic year. The further education college employs more than 700 staff, educating almost 8,000 students across six key locations in Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland.

With strong partnerships and smart collaborations with both local and national businesses, Gateshead College is recognised for training and vocational education that is effective, efficient, relevant and responsive; delivering the skills employers want and shaping the employees they need to thrive in a competitive, global market place.

The Situation

The college had a large physical Windows server farm located at its primary datacentre at the main Baltic campus. Servers were a combination of Dell and HP installed across multiple racks, with each individual server managed and maintained by the in house IT services Infrastructure team.

As the colleges computing needs grew, The College began to run out of space for physical servers and the existing cooling system was running at full capacity. New workloads also meant the addition of physical systems and valuable time was spent procuring, deploying and maintaining this infrastructure.

The Solution

Gateshead College spoke to Practical Networks for advice on modernising the existing server infrastructure and options available.

We initially completed a capacity planning assessment to gain a deep insight into IT resource and utilisation within the college and then developed a virtualisation road map for server and storage containment and consolidation. This allowed the college to confirm that virtualisation technology was the way forward to solve its space problems and drastically improve efficiency.

A new virtual server infrastructure based on a Dell M1000e blade chassis with multiple Dell blade servers and Dell Equallogic PS series storage arrays was deployed with each server running VMware virtualisation software.

The Result

Today, the college is 95% server virtualised and runs over 300 virtual machines on just 14 physical servers leading up to 80% savings in power usage alone. Servers are now running 40% harder at 30% lower cost with time to operation reduced by over 70% saving up to £3,000 per year for each virtualised server workload.

New IT services are delivered on demand with a 47% increase in deployment levels and uptime is raised to approximately 98% with improved reliability and business continuity is now proven rather than desired.




“By following Practical Networks advice and guidance, Gateshead College have drastically improved the IT infrastructure and made student learning a far better and richer experience. My only regret is not doing it sooner!”  – Denny McLaren – IT Infrastructure team – Gateshead College