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Bond University deploys Nutanix for on-premise servers

Australian university has migrated 700 on-premise servers to Nutanix following impending hardware refresh and desire to improve disaster recovery

Australia’s Bond University has injected a new lease of life into its old hardware by using the Nutanix platform to run 700 on-premise servers.

The move came at a time when the university was facing an impending hardware refresh and a desire to improve its disaster recovery capability.

“It worked out well,” said Ann Yardley, Bond University’s director of IT, adding that it was a more cost-effective approach.

While the university generally adopts a cloud-first strategy, it has a lot of legacy software and operates two on-premise datacentres, along with some workloads in Microsoft Azure. Yardley emphasised that users aren’t pushed onto Azure if other platforms serve them well.

Australian universities got a great deal from Microsoft, but Bond University won’t necessarily stay there, she observed.

A change of this scale meant the technical staff needed to learn a lot of new things, but the personalised support provided by Nutanix was “a vast improvement”, said Yardley.

There was a hard deadline of October 2023 to migrate the 700 servers to Nutanix as they were on extended support. The contract was signed in July that same year, and the bulk of the migration was done in September and October with assistance from Nutanix. The job could have been done more quickly, but Yardley wanted “on-the-tools training” for her team.

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A university is a place of continuous innovation and experimentation, so templates were developed to support self-service, and automation deployed to scale systems up and down as needed to keep costs under control. Yardley said Bond University has implemented financial operations (FinOps) tools, and that it was a matter of getting the best from them.

She also said security considerations meant some systems and data would remain on-premise, such as video footage from security cameras, adding that it was important to ensure researchers understood the need to protect their data and the intellectual property implications if they didn’t.

There was an expectation that more workloads would be moved into the cloud, but that process would be informed by the data and systems strategies that were under development. Yardley’s associated goals included systems rationalisation and the elimination of technical debt.

She said adopting Nutanix has given Bond University greater flexibility by removing supplier lock-in, and on the disaster recovery side, speed and recovery objectives are being met.

“It really has been an amazing partnership,” said Yardley, noting that Nutanix had helped her team through the process and that they “stand by their word”.

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