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July 2020
Windermere School

Windermere School replaces SAN and Hyper-V Cluster for Microsoft and DataOn Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)

Windermere School – Vincit qui se Vincit.
One conquers, who conquers oneself.

The Windermere School – established in 1863 – is located in the heart of England’s Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The school is split across three campuses spaning over fifty acres of land. The Elleray Campus is the Infant and Junior site (ages 3 to 11) and the Browhead Campus is the Senior School and Sixth Form site (ages 11 to 18). The School also has its own Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Watersports Centre on the shores of Lake Windermere. In 2018, Hodge Howe Watersports Centre became a British Youth Sailing Recognized Club by the RYA for its race training, becoming the first school in the UK to earn this status.

Having their staff on site to assist in the installation and configuration was outstanding. The support and service of XCES and their staff have been excellent and they are super friendly and very knowledgeable.
– Darren Hitchen, Network Manager at Windermere School

Windermere School is all about challenging to excel

Windermere School’s vision is to be the best small school in Britain. They strive for excellence in all things, and to inspire and challenge their students to reach beyond themselves, so they leave proud of their achievements. With a mission to inspire students to be confident and compassionate, Windermere School has deep-rooted aims and values to live up to.

Windermere School was looking for a replacement of its current SAN & servers to continue to achieve all of its ambitions. The servers showed their age and misconfiguration in the setup and took up much space for such a small school. Darren Hitchen, Network Manager at Windermere School, explained: “Administering servers was becoming more and more time consuming and frustrating. When working on a server, we could sometimes click on a button and the server would just sit there”. In addition, the existing hardware was out of warranty, making it for Windermere School obvious to look for a new Hyper-V based solution to create a more workable experience. 

The Solution – Microsoft and DataOn

By looking at the needs and wishes based on a live optics report, a 2-node DataON HCI-212 solution was proposed. Within this solution, 2x 1.6TB NVMe cache drives and 4x 12TB HDD drives for capacity were included. XCES follows best practices from Microsoft to provide the best solution. Hitchen adds: “It simplified the current host stack and has super-fast disk speeds in comparison to the regular hybrid disk array and host solution. The technology is fantastic, having all the data that is used frequently in super-fast NVMe drives enables us to rule out disks slowing down the network”. 

In the pre-deployment phase, VM Fleet POC and stress testing are performed and the customer deployment package is being prepared. Before the actual deployment has taken place, a pre-deployment meeting is held to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. XCES took care of the onsite deployment for Windermere School. “Having their staff onsite to assist in the installation and configuration was outstanding. The support and service of XCES and their staff have been excellent, and they are super friendly and very knowledgeable”.

Enable excellence through a Microsoft and DataOn solution

The best experience is when the DataON solution surprises the customer and lives up to their expectations. “The solution enables us to administer servers with ease now. Restarting a server takes only 30 seconds. This enables us to administer servers during work hours with ease," said Hitchen. 

Through Windows Admin Center and the DataON MUST extension, it is possible to visualize and manage the cluster from a single portal. This simplifies remote management with virtualized compute, storage, and network components and enables integration with various Azure services. The complete out-of-the-box solution from Microsoft and DataON offered by XCES has prepared Windermere School for a successful future in the field of IT.