To thrive in the digital age, any organization needs a workforce with strong digital skills, and universities are often key to developing this talent pool.
As digitization spreads across all industries, it’s no wonder educational institutions around the world are beginning to prioritize digital development.
Located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, WSU has more than 30,000 employees and students spread across its four main campuses.
With a clear goal of becoming one of the most innovative universities in the country, one that is always relevant in the rapidly expanding and evolving digital world, WSU knew its infrastructure needed a comprehensive upgrade.
Specifically, the university required a high-performance and reliable data infrastructure platform based on innovative technologies, to generate a digital teaching environment and improve the overall quality of teaching.
However, achieving such an upgrade seemed to be quite a challenge.
WSU’s legacy infrastructure suffered from a wide range of information technology (IT) system issues, including scattered information resources, each of which needed to be addressed to ensure success.
Barriers to University Innovation “Our live network was reaching its limits in performance and support, with certain legacy storage devices unable to support our teaching and research workloads,” said Brendan Langley, associate director of the Department of Infrastructure at WSU.
“so we needed to upgrade across the board, covering performance, reliability and security.”
The first and most pressing concern facing the university had to do with aging IT systems.
Many storage devices on the old live network were nearing end of service (EOS), resulting in poor performance, especially in database applications.
During the university term, when performance was supposed to be at its peak, bottlenecks were common in both administration and record systems, and the IT team struggled to respond quickly.
Another major sticking point was the lack of disaster recovery (DR) capabilities.
Any system failure would likely lead to service interruptions and, in turn, the potential loss of digital assets.
In terms of data security, the systems also faced frequent attacks, coming from phishing software and hackers.
And because the legacy data center system did not have a security foundation, a new highly secure data model would have to be built from scratch.
Fully aware of the issues it was facing, WSU was clear on what it needed: an innovative, high-quality storage solution that was fast, reliable, and easy to manage.
The key to get out of the impasse Cooperating with Huawei since 2010, WSU was already familiar with Huawei’s achievements and position in the field of information and communications technology (ICT).
And because a wide variety of equipment would need to be replaced on the live network, WSU’s familiarity and confidence in Huawei’s product portfolios made the decision to work with Huawei once again an easy one.
“We know that Huawei is a brand we can trust, with clear advantages in integrated End to End (E2E) solutions and services.”
WSU deployed Huawei’s OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage to address performance issues for critical workloads.
Its innovative hardware, algorithms, and architecture deliver extremely high throughput and millisecond latency, eliminating performance bottlenecks and meeting the peak needs of high-performance workloads.
Now, the university’s storage system’s latency has been reduced to just 0.34ms, while throughput has increased by 60%.
Previously, even a minor system failure could cause major headaches for the WSU service.
But with OceanStor Dorado’s gatewayless active-active DR solution, data integrity and service continuity are assured.
The system also includes SAN-based ransomware prevention features, such as secure snapshots, to protect data assets.
Different generations of OceanStor can also be converged, so WSU adopted the entry-level OceanStor 2600 storage system on the DR side, forming a high availability (HA) environment.
This has given WSU the flexibility to purchase and deploy solutions based on its specific needs, greatly reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).
Speed and Scale – In an Instant With the new and improved network now up and running, ERP and learning management systems enjoy stable connectivity, while the management system’s data processing speeds have improved significantly.
And thanks to new storage systems, WSU’s business system enjoys excellent performance that meets the latency of database applications, which in turn provides a better overall experience for both staff and students.
Huawei, of course, goes beyond providing solutions.
If any issues arise in the future, WSU knows that they will be addressed quickly.
“That was a very noticeable benefit with Huawei.
The solutions are reliable but if needed, support is always available.
Now we can quickly fix any issue and we know Huawei IT support team is behind us,” he said Langley.
These updates have given WSU the freedom to focus its energy where it’s needed most: nurturing the talents of the students in its care.
They have also put the university in a strong position to consider future opportunities as it works to develop a comprehensive smart campus.
WSU can now expand its teaching and research programs without compromising data security.
And with the project serving as an example for other universities in South Africa seeking data infrastructure upgrades, it has also put WSU firmly on the path to becoming one of the most forward-thinking and innovative universities nationally.