HEAnet hits increased resilience and availability with Interxion


31 Mar 2011

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Interxion delivers greater resilience and high availability to HEAnet, the digital backbone of Ireland’s education and research sectors.

The challenge

HEAnet serves a growing education and research sector, as well as a national user population, all of which require world-class infrastructural resources. In 2008, the requirement arose to supplement its existing state-of-the-art data centre and WAN resources for growth and new projects in the shorter term. In addition, it needed a solution that would allow for rapid expansion if required, while assisting in the formation of a longer-term investment and strategic resource development strategy.

To contact Interxion:

Call: 353-1- 4344900
Email: infodublin@interxion.com
Website: www.interxion.com

The solution

Following a thorough analysis of the market, HEAnet chose Interxion’s Dublin data centre to house its Internet Point of Presence (PoP) and provide increased diversity and space (100 sq metres) for its infrastructure, as well as geographical diversity for additional security.

“Our mission is to deliver highly available and resilient network services to our clients, who are, in turn, dependent on our infrastructure,” says John Boland, HEAnet’s CEO. “Network excellence is the first pillar of our corporate strategy, and in a sense, everything else rests on that.”

According to Gareth Eason, HEAnet’s network operations manager, “As well as internet and other connectivity, our network services represent elements of core infrastructure for institutions that would otherwise have to be funded out of their own capital budgets. Sharing of such resources through HEAnet has been a very successful model that continues to offer both higher performance and reduced capital and operating costs.”

The three-year contract with Interxion is an efficient way of adding physical server space and another connectivity node to the HEAnet resource infrastructure through a world-class data centre. It offers technical superiority to match HEAnet’s quality requirements and a cost-effective additional network resource.

“We now have effectively four data centres, including Interxion, plus the other network PoPs and set of communications rooms on over 40 client sites. The ongoing development of our expanding range of services has meant different particular services, such as email and videoconferencing, have specific server and network needs. This has accelerated a trend towards co-location for HEAnet, so that primary and back-up resources are physically independent, with multiple connectivity paths.

"A university might have five email servers, for example, and choose to put one of them in a remote data centre, but on an extension to their local area network (LAN). The second Interxion data centre … offers a clear path to potential expansion in space or connectivity.”

While the HEAnet technical team designs and maintains the organisation’s network infrastructure and ICT services, Eason points out that almost all of its services are run on a collaborative basis. “We work regularly with our colleagues in the institutions. In that context, although we will manage our server and other resources within the Interxion data centre ourselves, the availability of technical ‘hands and eyes’ on-site 24/7 is a potentially valuable aspect of the service. We are also happy to have advice available from Interxion experts in 27 top-level European data centres.” 

The many areas of technology innovation which HEAnet and its clients are currently investigating include virtualisation and cloud computing. “We already have virtual private servers (VPS) in some applications, while both HEAnet and some of its clients are using virtualisation as part of a mirroring solution for various applications," Eason explains.

"Cloud computing technology is certainly nearer than the horizon, particularly in the research sector where ‘capability on demand’ offers a cost-effective answer to the occasional resource requirement of many projects. In due course, it may also offer a route to the cost-savings imperatives that are as important in the education sector as elsewhere — as well as the potential of a lower-carbon footprint. The Interxion facility will offer the capacity to test or pilot such developments.”

What HEAnet does

Established by seven universities in 1984 with the support of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority, HEAnet provides connectivity and internet access to its 57 member institutions in higher education and research. It also serves more than 4,000 schools nationally. Its state-of-the-art national WAN is almost literally the electronic backbone of the country’s entire education and research sector, with 10 Gbps international connections to peer resources, such as the European GÉANT and JANET in the UK, as well as the general internet.

What Interxion delivered to HEAnet

• Best-in-class equipment housing with the ability to scale and reconfigure space as required

• Multiple physical security layers and 24-hour security support with controlled customer access 24/7

• Guaranteed power availability up to 99.999pc with N+1 backup generators and cooling and N+1 UPS

• Redundant cooling equipment with free cooling and cold-aisle-cooling

• ISO 27001-certified information security management systems

• An additional Point of Presence for HEAnet and its 2.5Gbps network

• Co-location facilities to complement HEAnet’s own data centre resources

• Geographical diversity for additional security and resilience

• Diversion of costs from capital to operating budgets

• Reduced infrastructure costs

• Capacity to test and pilot innovative projects

• Supplementary technical expertise

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