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Nutanix HCI, Nakivo backup go straight into Compton schools

The Compton, Calif., school district reduces its data center server and storage footprint with Nutanix hyper-convergence and simplifies data backup with Nakivo software.

Ahead of a data center migration set for mid-2018, the Compton Unified School District in Southern California took several steps to simplify its IT infrastructure in the past year.

The Compton Unified School District (CUSD) condensed its server and storage infrastructure on Nutanix hyper-convergence in early 2017. Then, in late 2017, it switched over to Nakivo Backup & Replication software using Synology NAS appliances as backup targets.

Mitchell Morones, network administrator at CUSD, said hyper-convergence helped solve heating and power issues at its current data center, and he said he hopes the changes will help make the coming move smoother.

CUSD has 36 schools and four administrative offices, with nearly 26,000 students and 3,000 employees. The district spans the city of Compton and parts of Los Angeles and Carson.

Morones said CUSD's IT team consists of around 21 people. This summer, the team is scheduled to move into a new data center in a high school across the street from its current location.

The first sweeping IT change came when CUSD installed Nutanix hyper-converged appliances to replace around 80 servers in a cramped, steamy server room.

"We were having a problem with overheating with our servers," Morones said. "The server room was consistently in the high 70s. But if one of our air-conditioner compressors went out, the room went up to the high 90s. We got rid of everything and transferred it all to Nutanix, and now the server room is a good 67 to 70 degrees."

He said all of CUSD's applications now run on Nutanix, except the phone system.

Less space, less heat

IT departments at school districts never really get huge budgets. We're always looking for something low-cost that is effective and reliable.
Mitchell Moronesnetwork administrator, Compton Unified School District

Morones said hyper-converged infrastructure also saves rack space, which will come in handy when the district moves its data center to the new location. "The new server room will be about one-third the size we have now, but we only have to move three racks over," he said. "We have one rack for our Nutanix cluster and phone system, one UPS rack and one rack for our networking."

The networking rack consists of Cisco routers, Brocade Ethernet edge switches and Ruckus wireless switching.

In late October 2017, CUSD installed Nakivo Backup & Replication software. Morones said the move simplified the district's data protection. CUSD backs up to two Synology NAS systems -- one in the main data center and a second off site. The district also replicates from its Nutanix systems running Microsoft Hyper-V to a cluster of Lenovo severs, and it will add a cluster of Dell servers off site for disaster recovery.

Morones said Nakivo Backup & Replication is easy to manage without breaking the school district's budget.

"IT departments at school districts never really get huge budgets," he said. "We're always looking for something low-cost that is effective and reliable. With Nakivo, the recovery process is easy. You can look at all the servers and files, and click on the one you want to restore. You can recover files from specific dates. The last backup software I managed was Symantec Backup Exec, and that was a pain."

He also praised Nakivo Backup & Replication's deduplication and compression, saying he backs up 22 TB of primary data into 8 TB of capacity on his Synology box.

The changes to CUSD's infrastructure should help when it moves over to the new data center over the summer break this year. The district is up against a deadline, because anything that does not get moved during the summer will have to wait until the Christmas break. Morones said having all infrastructure condensed to three racks should make the move easier.

"Now, we'll just leave everything on the racks and move the racks across the street," he said.

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