Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 43 | Page 36

FEATURE: DATA CENTRES learning is delivered to learners across the world, mainly because of the high Digital Intelligence Quotient (DQ) that exists in developed markets,” said Vlok. “At Curro, we want to deliver education centred around the learner, and all our systems must support this insight-driven educational experience that enable learners to absorb learning better, wherever they are.” between schools of teachers, learners and learning resources.” As it started to scale, Curro identified issues within its data centre strategy, particularly with Disaster Recovery and redundancy. Its hardware assets were reaching endof-service life, but instead of ripping and replacing these assets, Vlok and his team OUR VIRTUALISED VMWARE DATA CENTRE LETS US MARRY OUR PHYSICAL ASSETS TO THE PHYSICAL APPLICATION AND CENTRALLY MANAGE THEM. Curro’s technology landscape is made up of a centralised data centre, on-site data centres and an intricate network fabric that needs to cater for over 60,000 endpoints and supports 11 terabytes of traffic a day. “Unlike other school (K-12) technology ecosystems, ours is run as a centralised network that integrates all our business and educational systems. Our centralised enterprise network is a key differentiator in our approach to the Digital Transformation journey, as most other school networks or districts run their own systems and only integrate the information between them. In our business, everything from cybersecurity, educational platforms and business systems, is centralised,” said Vlok. It is this very setup that Vlok said formed its decision to pair with VMware. “It required a data centre solution that could help it execute on a hybrid cloud strategy and still support and leverage current hardware investments. The movement of educators, learners and digital resources within the school system required a reevaluation of the network ecosystem,” said Vlok. “It required a solution that would let it leverage the benefits of a cloud-first strategy without devaluing the investments made in the existing infrastructure. Practically, the solution has to allow for sharing, movement and collaboration wanted a technology solution that would use these assets as a storage, processing and memory pool for the next seven–eight years. This would then help it transition, on its terms, between a full on-premise and full cloud solution, without having to write off the hardware investments made. Education that is always-on After extensive investigations, Curro partnered with First Technology Western Cape, a VMware reseller and systems integrator, to help the company deploy a virtual data centre. The solution included VMware VSAN, VMware vSphere, and all the sub-services within VSAN. “Investment into Digital Transformation gets stuck at the point of technology execution because of infrastructure costs. Our virtualised VMware data centre lets us marry our physical assets to the physical application and centrally manage them while adding a cloud fabric where it makes sense. In short, we can digitally transform and leverage the benefits of the cloud without expecting users to change the way they work,” said Vlok. With VSAN, the company is less hardwaredependant and turned its traditional, often idle infrastructure, into a high-availability data centre using a VSAN stretched cluster – enabling it to perform Disaster Recovery more effectively. Vlok says he is now able to significantly improve the management of the demand-driven technology requirement by ‘bursting and shrinking’ cloud capacity from his cloud service providers. “Our core product is education which is available at all times – in the classroom or remotely. In Africa, we still face bandwidth challenges, so our new infrastructure lessens the reliance on bandwidth by delivering a robust multicloud and on-premise offering, stretching across both.” Bridging the digital education divide Vlok says the environment now supports its desire to provide reliable education anywhere, and learners working remotely now have access to the same platforms they would have had at schools, bridging the gap between traditional schooling and the various forms of remote schooling. By virtualising a large proportion of its services, it is more agile and can write 36 INTELLIGENTCIO