Using Novell Cluster Services™ in Novell® Open Enterprise Server, Hogeschool Rotterdam created a stretched cluster of 16 servers across two data centres. Workload is split across paired servers, one in each centre, creating a highly resilient IT infrastructure. As a result, the institution can deliver extremely reliable information services to its 30,000 students.
About Hogeschool Rotterdam
With 12 campus locations, 3,000 staff and approximately 30,000 students, Hogeschool Rotterdam is one of the major Universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Divided into eleven institutions, and offering more than 80 graduate and undergraduate programmes, the organisation has a vast international network of partner universities and corporate links.
As a modern institution that is focused on professional education, Hogeschool Rotterdam is highly dependent on the smooth functioning of its ICT services. Students and staff alike access tools for communication, learning and administration on a daily basis.
To minimise the possibility of downtime—which could significantly disrupt both operations and learning—the institution decided to build a second data centre in Rotterdam. The plan was to split IT services across both centres, so that the loss of an individual server, a set of servers or even an entire data centre would not prevent staff and students from accessing their applications and data.
Hogeschool Rotterdam needed a solution that would be highly effective yet also easy to run, so that it could continue to maintain a relatively small staff of IT specialists.
Based on its many years of satisfaction with Novell technologies, Hogeschool Rotterdam decided to migrate from OES 2.0 to Novell Open Enterprise Server 11. Using Novell Cluster Services, which is a key built-in component of Novell Open Enterprise Server, the institution created a stretched cluster containing 16 server nodes. Key IT services run on pairs of servers, which are divided between the institution’s two data centres.
“Practically all of our systems run on these 16 servers—Novell Cluster Services helps us to ensure round-the-clock availability,” said Eric Kerkdijk, IT Manager at Hogeschool Rotterdam. “Within the cluster, if one node goes down for some reason, its second node in the other data centre automatically takes over the workload so that there is no interruption in service.” In the event that one entire data centre goes offline, Hogeschool Rotterdam estimates that it can have all operations back to normal in the second centre within a few hours.
In addition to protecting users against server or software failures, Novell Cluster Services makes it easy for technical staff to perform scheduled maintenance on servers. If a server is shut down, the others in the cluster automatically and seamlessly absorb its workload, maintaining service and application availability.
Upgrading to Novell Open Enterprise Server with Novell Cluster Services has given Hogeschool Rotterdam a highly available platform for delivering reliable IT services to staff and students. Offering excellent business continuity, the solution is also compact and easy to manage.
“When we looked at other options, we estimated that equivalent solutions would require 20 servers just for the mail environment, whereas we need only 16 machines in total,” said Kerkdijk. “Using Novell Open Enterprise Server preserves our investments in Novell technology and skills, while opening up new possibilities for the future.”
For Hogeschool Rotterdam, a key benefit of using Novell technologies is their low cost of ownership, made possible by their stability and limited requirements for maintenance. The institution has 35,000 active mailboxes in its Novell GroupWise® e-mail and calendaring solution, yet just ten administrators in total—of whom only three are dedicated to the Novell landscape.
“In our opinion, Novell offers reliable, proven technology at attractive pricing,” said Kerkdijk. “The Novell solutions help us to deliver maximum functionality to users with the minimum of management overhead. As an educational institution with limited budgets, the low running costs are a great benefit.”