Just one of the things on head teachers’ minds these days is the budget gap created by rising electricity and gas costs. Some schools talk about 150% increases, and the knock on to other school budgets could be immense. And ICT is surely playing its part in the increase. Since 2002, the number of computers in a typical school has doubled, and with that more power-hungry servers have also arrived (a typical rack-mount server might have a 700 watt power supply).

So it makes sense to think about your power consumption. I’ve written before about power-saving on your desktop/laptop computers here, but what about servers?

One of the easy wins is to plan your strategy for virtualisation – reducing/restricting the number of physical servers you need in your server room, and giving you more flexibility in your ICT infrastructure. To be honest, we’re probably in the foothills of the Virtualisation Alps, which is why it’s a good time to build a strategy.

There are a pair of education case studies worth looking at, to compare others’ strategies:

Kentucky’s virtualisation strategy

The Kentucky Department for Education run 900 servers on behalf of their schools – 200 in a data centre, and 700 spread across their school system. They found they were each running at typical 10% of capacity, because they had dedicated servers for each task. By deploying virtualisation (they were lucky to be on our early adopter programme for Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V) they estimate that they’re going to reduce their physical servers by 60%, reduce data centre space by 50%, and reduce power use by 25%.

And their goal is to reduce any downtime by building in redundancy – ensuring that there are less interruptions to learning across the schools. And then to enhance their disaster preparedness as a result.

Warwickshire’s central virtualisation hub

The education team’s ICT Development Services started virtualising applications to better support their 250 schools. Their model uses a delivery model of applications served from a central hub, to give them network and device neutrality – so that users can connect to applications from anywhere on the Internet, not just within school. Not only does it save cost, and reduce hardware costs, but they have also seen that it can enhance data security rights across the system.