About City College Brighton & Hove
City College Brighton & Hove offers full–and part-time vocational and training courses at all levels for all age groups. The college has four sites in Brighton and employs more than 700 full-time staff to provide education and related services for over 9,000 students.
For many years, City College had been using NetWare® to provide file and print services. The College wanted to move to a more modern operating system, but did not want to have to change its existing flat network.
"Our network topology is unusual," said David Turner, Head of IT and Learning Resource Centre at City College. "We have 1,500 PCs, 200 Macs and all our servers on a single flat network. This gives us extremely low latency, enabling us to use VOIP telephony without affecting the rest of our network traffic."
To minimize latency and maintain performance, the College needed a new operating system that could work with this flat network, and could operate with very low levels of background 'chatter'.
"Most people said it just couldn't be done," said Turner. "And if we'd looked at a Microsoft solution, they might have been right. Novell Open Enterprise Server and SUSE® Linux Enterprise gave us the answer."
City College has been using Linux to run its Web servers for several years, and has also moved most of its applications onto the platform–including a Moodle virtual learning environment, an Oracle financial system, a PHP-based student records system, and Novell GroupWise®.
"When it came to choosing a new operating system for file and print services, Linux was a natural choice," said Turner. "Moreover, compared to Windows, Linux generates very little network traffic, so we knew it would support our flat network strategy."
As long-term users of Novell software, City College opted for Novell Open Enterprise Server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the platform for the new file and print environment.
"Our IT team has considerable expertise with Novell technologies, and the support that Novell provides is excellent," said Mark Wilson, Technical Coordinator. "We realised that Novell Open Enterprise Server would simplify the migration of our file/print cluster to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and allow us to keep most of the same administration tools we were using in NetWare. This gave us an easy learning curve and ensured that we got up to speed quickly with the new environment."
The migration was completed rapidly, with minimal downtime. The NetWare server was kept online while 1.5TB of data was moved into the new Novell Open Enterprise Server cluster. A number of smaller synchronisations then took place, and finally, the users were switched over to the new environment.
"The whole transition was completed with almost no downtime and no negative effect on users," said Matt Barber, Server Engineer. "The only thing they noticed was that file and print services are ten times faster with Novell Open Enterprise Server than they were on NetWare."
City College has also implemented PaperCut software, which integrates with Novell iPrint to enable central management of all printers and photocopiers. The software manages print quotas and accounts for different departments and individuals within the College, which has already saved us nearly 13 percent on printing costs–and should help us enforce a 20 percent saving over the course of this academic year.
"The SUSE Linux Enterprise Server kernel gives us ten times better performance, even on comparatively few servers," said Richard Brown, Systems Engineer. "A Microsoft solution would have required up to 75 percent more investment in hardware, and up to 50 percent for licensing, support and maintenance. Moreover, we have limited accommodation in our inner-city campus, and we simply would not have space for all the additional equipment."
The low latency of the network also enables City College to run VOIP telephone system across all sites, which increases flexibility as well as saving on phone bills.
The solution delivers better than 99.9 percent availability, thanks to its cluster configuration.
"Clustering in Novell Open Enterprise Server is a definite improvement over NetWare," said Wilson. "If a system goes down now, it's because we've brought it down ourselves: unplanned outages just don't happen any more."
Finally, by moving file and print services to Novell Open Enterprise Server, the College is closer to its strategy of having a single operating system for all its servers. Many processes have now been automated, cutting system administration by 25 percent.
"With our applications, Web servers, e-mail and now file/print services on Linux, we can run multiple systems on a single node, which is much simpler," said Turner. "Linux also gives us more software options–for example, applications like PaperCut, which wouldn't have been available with NetWare."