How Coventry University modernised their management platform and saved money with Microsoft System Centre 2012
Over the past few years, Coventry University have been through a significant virtualisation strategy and are now continuing to improve their IT delivery by looking at new ways to save money through products and services without reducing the overall quality of their IT service.
Coventry is an evolving and innovative university with a reputation for excellence in education, and have made substantial progress in the last 3 years. They are now in the top 50 universities, and the top 3 best modern universities in the UK.
What does Coventry’s IT services support?
Where does their virtualisation story begin?
In 2010, a new corporate plan, which changed the entire business context, was brought about, facing the IT department with the seemingly impossible task of saving £1m through IT efficiency and £500k in staffing. All school technicians were moved into central IT sections, and all IT areas outside of central IT were consolidated. Overall, teams got significantly smaller, or were completely disbanded, and IT services could no longer be distributed without having business benefit and value as a whole.
With all the consolidation and standardisation, a large number of products were being used. The IT department tried to cater for each of these, and provide everyone the use of tools and systems they had previously, however, this led to too much information. They found that they had a too many monitoring and deployment systems which had no awareness of other products, thousands of emails and system alerts which the staff could not deal with, desktop managing tools causing image build-drifts and conflicts. All of these were highly exhaustive on staff resource and time, especially after the teams had been reduced in numbers.
Realising this was an unsustainable system, they decided that they wanted a suite of tools which could manage the desktop to the datacentre, and could effectively monitor server health, applications and state with errors, warnings and information being relevant to those receiving the alerts. They wanted a system which could manage incident and job request workflows, but the suite had to be available at a significantly lower cost than the previous tools.
Wiping the slate clean, all of their previously used products were removed from the infrastructure, and trials were run on a number of products to find a replacement. They made the decision to deploy Microsoft System Centre 2012 as they were already heavily a Microsoft campus. The university chose certain elements of the suite to replace certain products, initially only deploying four:
Virtual Machine Manager:
Service manager (running 2010 SP1 version, moving to 2012 this July):
Configuration manager (running 2007, moving to 2012 this July):