KVM Provides Measurable ROI for University of Surrey Case Study:

Case Study:
KVM Provides Measurable ROI for
University of Surrey
"Improving IT support
responsiveness drove our purchase
decision. The fact that Avocent
enhanced server room security with
its remote management capabilities
could only prove a positive step in
improving our service levels to
campus users. I feel confident now
that with the DSR range, I have the
flexibility to respond to the
changing demands placed on our
With 16,000 staff and students using Internet and email on a daily basis, the
University of Surrey's IT Services department has to work hard to maintain a
robust scalable infrastructure under tight budgetary demands, while
implementing new services on a regular basis.
The department has responsibility for central IT services, including email, Web,
payroll and student files across the entire campus. To do this, the central server
room currently houses 150 servers, all of which need to provide simultaneous
analyst access. The management challenge is to provide effective support to
ensure the most responsive and flexible IT system.
Prior to 2002, the campus IT rooms hosted 100 servers, laid out in rows on
benches, each with their own dedicated entry terminal. However, a 20 percent
increase in server capacity following the introduction of new software,
including Microsoft Mail, created a need for a radical re-evaluation of the
server room infrastructure and support capabilities.
IT systems."
Hilary Sherlock,
University of Surrey
IT Operations Manager
With 120 servers, the bench system could not provide the speed or ease of
access that the IT support staff required to maintain the system uptime
demanded by the University users. The logical step was to look at how
technology could improve IT management. This led to the evaluation of KVM
over IP and all of its benefits: a more secure operating environment; reduced
physical server room access; improved system reliability and problem
With limited budgets at their disposal, any purchase had to offer a strong
Return on Investment (ROI) for it to be approved. University IT Operations
Manager Hilary Sherlock had to provide a strong business case for his
“Any infrastructure change must offer both an immediate and long-term return
for us. Firstly, it has to integrate seamlessly so as not to hinder the ongoing
management the IT support team provides to the campus, but it also has to
grow with us as the IT infrastructure naturally evolves over time. Logic dictated
that we had to move to a rack-mount environment or risk compromising fast
and quick fault resolution. We also required a more security-focused culture.”
To resolve the server room issues, Sherlock concluded that KVM would provide
the most relevant and workable long-term solution . “We installed the Avocent
solution as it delivered the access, security and management functionality we
were looking for. We knew it would ensure the improved day to day running
and out of hours server maintenance levels that our users were demanding,” he
explained. “At the time, improving IT support responsiveness drove our
purchase decision. The fact that Avocent enhanced server room security with its
remote management capabilities could only prove a positive step in improving
our service levels to campus users.”
The implementation challenge
The hardware roll-out was supported by the introduction
of Avocent AVWorks® software, which controlled the
management and introduction of accounts onto each
server. A unique login and password was required for
each server session and switch. As server numbers grew,
quickly reaching 150, the management limitations in
terms of time and access capabilities within the current
operating environment were becoming apparent.
“We had quickly moved to an environment where 90
servers were connected to our six AVR 2000's. With
around 25 analysts pushing for system access, we began
to see some access contention on the switches,”
acknowledged Sherlock. “At this point, it became apparent
that our KVM infrastructure had to be upgraded to deliver
the responsiveness and flexibility that the growing
infrastructure and my support team demanded.”
Sherlock and his team began to evaluate Avocent DSR
KVM over IP switches, which offer a more flexible
centrally-administered answer to ongoing system account
setup and backup. On-site testing began in May with
funding and installation quickly following in October. The
DSR suite is now fully operational within the campus
server rooms.
“Looking back, if we had known the growth that we were
going to experience and the maintenance challenges
facing us, my initial system requirements would ha`ve
been radically different and I could have easily presented
a business case to roll-out the Avocent DSR range. In
particular, in light of the increased focus on on-site
security, the audit logs have improved the control of user
permissions across the range of network appliances.”
Final Solution
Overall, the move to DSR switches provides Sherlock's
team with a greater degree of flexibility, more
connections per switch, centralised authentication,
improved security management and the elimination of the
previous access issues felt by the users.
“The DSR roll-out has exceeded all expectations with
improved high level system clarity and overall
functionality being just two of the benefits gained by my
team, “ he said. “The feedback received from the user
base has been resoundingly positive. Centralised
authentication has proved a real bonus in terms of access
and response times and the improved video quality is
particularly impressive.”
system has delivered a dual benefit by eliminating space
constraints in the medium term, but equally creating a
simpler maintenance environment for staff. With
increased switch capabilities in terms of server linkage,
this should continue into the foreseeable future.
“While the system has resolved many space constraints, it
has additionally responded to the growing priority on
improving system and site security,” Sherlock continued.
“We now have the ability to encrypt information, and
create individual user accounts to limit user access to
valid server paths only. This has helped eliminate many of
the errors and outage problems. Human error is one of
the biggest causes of downtime, which has now effectively
been resolved with the introduction of Avocent
The Future
The DSR deployment provides the University IT team with
the flexibility to respond to any future growth demands
and changes placed on its infrastructure. In addition, the
centralised management capabilities ensure both the
financial and labour costs linked to maintaining and
managing the network do not increase.
“I feel confident now that with the DSR range, I have the
flexibility to respond to the changing demands placed on
our IT systems. The initial investment has proved
worthwhile as in the short space of time it has been
operational, the DSR range has proved worth the
investment. The improved control that we now have over
our day to day IT remit, allow us to focus on many of the
newer projects on our radar and deliver them on time to
our campus sponsors,” Sherlock concluded.
About Avocent
Avocent is the leading worldwide supplier of KVM
switching and connectivity solutions that provide IT
managers with access and control of multiple servers and
network datacentre devices. Avocent was formed in July
2000 by the merger of leading industry innovators Cybex
Computer Products Corporation and Apex Inc. Avocent
KVM solutions are distributed by the world’s largest server
manufacturers and installed in Fortune 100 companies
around the world.
Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, Avocent has
locations in Redmond, Washington; Sunrise, Florida;
Chelmsford, Massachussetts; Austin, Texas; Shannon,
Ireland; London; Steinhagen, Germany; Tokyo; China; and
Singapore. For more information about Avocent products,
visit www.avocent-europe.com.
In practical terms, the KVM infrastructure has improved
capacity within the server rooms, as the rack-mount
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