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University of Canberra partners with Nutanix to optimise cloud computing capabilities

Nutanix (NASDAQ: NTNX), a leader in hybrid multicloud computing, today said University of Canberra (UC) slashed its IT infrastructure costs and optimised its cloud computing expenses using the Nutanix Cloud Platform.

Founded in 1967, UC is dedicated to providing immersive student experiences focused on strong employment outcomes. It has a rich history of pioneering research and innovation with practical impact on community, and is home to leading research centres and institutes including the Centre for Conservation Ecology and Genomics, Health Research Institute, and more. Located in Australia’s capital, UC has more than 15,500 students, academics, researchers, and professional staff.

While UC’s cloud/network architecture comprises several elements of the Nutanix Cloud Platform, the latest implementation was the NCM Cost Governance solution – one which Matt Carmichael, CIO, University of Canberra, said had an immediate impact.

“We have a small IT team, and the tool gives us a single pane of glass to monitor our usage across Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, automatically alerting us to any ‘gotchas’ where spend might tick up and we don’t know why,” he said. “That has saved us a couple times. One instance was when our backups in Google Cloud weren’t being aged out appropriately, increasing our bills exponentially. We were able to quickly get it back in line with Nutanix technology.”

Carmichael said these cost savings were just the tip of the iceberg as previous implementations had drastically reduced the University’s IT expenses and infrastructure needs.

“Using Nutanix to implement our private cloud was a major reason we were able to replace our disaster recovery (DR) datacentre with a micro datacentre,” he said. “This meant when we needed a new DR facility, it only required three racks of space, instead of the existing 24 – this led to upfront financial savings of around $2 million, and ongoing savings in operational costs and energy usage.”

“Further, we’ve been able to consolidate the server and storage assets we need by 78 per cent which led to an additional projected saving of more than $1.5 million as we didn’t have to purchase all that new equipment.”

Carmichael said that as existing infrastructure reached the end of its lifecycle, workloads previously running on three-tier architecture were migrated to Nutanix. Today, more than 90 per cent of the University’s core applications run on Nutanix Cloud Platform, including the key student management, finance, human resources, and database systems.

“What we saw as we migrated more workloads to Nutanix was massive consolidation in the IT hardware we needed – we saw shrinking in our datacentre footprint requirements almost immediately,” he said. “It was also much easier to manage and support, particularly with seamless one-click upgrades. Previously, our traditional infrastructure meant we had all these different hoops you had to jump through.”

While the financial and operational savings have enabled UC to invest in enhancing the student learning experience, Carmichael said one of the greatest benefits had stemmed from improving the quality of its teaching in the areas of AI and Deep Learning.

“We recently added undergraduate specialist majors in Robotics, AI, and Data Science, a Masters of Data Science, and Post Graduate specialisations in AI and Machine Learning. To teach these courses effectively requires a significantly increased capacity for GPU-enabled computing resources,” Carmichael said.

“With Nutanix End User Computing (EUC), students are able to work on their lab work, assessments, and research from anywhere without requiring excessively expensive terminals – they can use their normal laptops, log-in to the VDI portal, and access all the computing resources they need,” Carmichael said. “Improving the student experience by offering a flexible, remotely accessible teaching environment with enough computing resources for AI and Deep Learning is one of the strategic goals of the Faculty of Science and Technology.”

Carmichael said postgraduate researchers – such as those conducting research at the University’s Visual and Decision Analytics Lab (VIDEA) and the Australian Geospatial Health Lab (AGeoH-L) – were also able to easily access all the computing power they required as Nutanix’s platform enables UC to scale up or down as needed in UC’s research cluster.

The University’s first foray into Nutanix technology was in 2013 when it was looking to transform its legacy three-tier infrastructure and reduce the complexity of its IT architecture. Carmichael said he has since worked closely with its technology partner, QIRX, throughout his digital transformation journey. QIRX is also an authorised Nutanix reseller.

“QIRX has been a very stable partner for us,” he said. “When we originally went to Nutanix, they were brave enough right at the beginning because it was such a new technology, they were early adopters in bringing that to the table. We bought our first cluster from them and have procured through them ever since.”

Aaron White, General Manager and Vice President, Nutanix APJ, said UC was at the cutting edge of AI and Deep Learning innovation.

“The next generation of innovators and world-changers are studying right now at University of Canberra,” White said. “We’re only just beginning to understand the full potential of AI, and it’s the hands-on research underway in our nation’s capital that will shape the future of our nation.”


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