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Collaborative partnership delivers solid ICT backbone for Victorian TAFE institute

Sunraysia Institute of TAFE is located in north-western Victoria, with the main campus in Mildura and regional campuses in Swan Hill, Robinvale and Ouyen. The institute has over 300 staff and 8,000 students and offers courses in Land, Food and Water; Arts and Community Education; and Business and Industry Services.


Sunraysia Institute of TAFE




Victoria, Australia


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The Mildura campus houses the institute's central data centre which delivers core services to staff and students including library databases, e-learning systems, mail server, financial databases and student management systems. With so many staff and students relying on these information and communication technology (ICT) services it is critical that the physical infrastructure and network supporting the systems is robust and reliable.

Ross Goonan, the Institute's IT Manager, says their original data network had reached the end of its life and the physical infrastructure, such as power and cooling, was unreliable and didn't provide the ability to monitor and manage the computing environment.

”When the Office of Tertiary Training and Education (OTTE) approached us about a new voice project we realised that the existing power and cooling systems supporting the network weren't up to the task. The air conditioners in particular just weren't cutting it and we had no visibility or control of the environment in the data centre or network nodes,” says Ross.

The climate in Mildura is extreme with frosts in winter and temperatures up to 47 degrees in summer. The old air conditioners would freeze up during the frosts and could not cope with the extreme heat in summer.

The other problem Ross faced in the data centre and the seventeen outer network nodes was unreliable power. Power surges and sags are common in the area and the ageing uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) could not be managed across the network and were no longer providing the level of protection needed to meet the institute's uptime requirements.

Sunraysia Institute of TAFE have embarked on a program of modernisations to achieve a 21st Century learning environment including a resilient and collaborative network enabling students new means of accessing and sharing content. Reliability support by an APC Infrastructure is crucial to deliver this vision.

Sunraysia Institute of TAFE and OTTE enlisted the help of Optus and Alphawest, one of Australia's leading Information and Communications Technology integrators. The project encompassed a new data centre build; an upgrade to the LAN infrastructure and switching equipment; and new IP telephony and unified messaging solutions. Optus and Alphawest partnered with APC for the data centre build, and for the network upgrade and voice services engaged Cisco Systems.

The data centre build was the first phase of the project and a core component was a scalable 40kW APC InfraStruXure solution in the central data centre incorporating UPS power and power distribution with N+1 redundancy. The implementation also included two APC In-Row Cooling units; APC racking; a fully integrated APC monitoring and management system; and a diesel generator providing four hours of back-up power.

The second phase of the project began with the installation of a scalable APC InfraStruXure Type A solution in each of the seventeen network nodes including UPS, racks, and environmental management. This was followed by the rollout of Cisco Unified IP Phone handsets; Cisco Catalyst® 3750 and 6500 Series Switches; Cisco Unified Contact Center; Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis and Response System (Cisco Security MARS); and Cisco Unified Unity Connection integrated messaging.

Ross was confident in Optus and Alphawest's recommendation to implement APC and Cisco equipment and was impressed by how well the complex two-phase roll-out was project managed.

“APC and Cisco seemed like the natural choices for us and the co-ordination and communication between all parties involved was excellent,” says Ross.

Reg Johnson, Education Account Director at Optus, was involved with managing the project and found that the follow-through and project management support delivered by APC helped things run smoothly.

Having this state of the art infrastructure in place means that we no longer have to worry about network capacity or about power and cooling issues

“There was a lot of pre-sales engineering and planning work invested by APC and I've been very impressed with them on the delivery side of things,” says Reg.
Sunraysia Institute of TAFE now has state of the art network and physical infrastructure in place to support its staff and students. Importantly, all of the new equipment can be managed across the network allowing Ross to proactively manage his systems and address any environmental, network or security issues before they have an impact on service delivery.

“Having this state of the art infrastructure in place means that we no longer have to worry about network capacity or about power and cooling issues,” say Ross. “These new systems mean that we can now offer more flexible services to both staff and students and focus on our plans for the future.”

The institute is looking to develop videoconferencing capabilities to enable virtual classroom scenarios for both inter-campus and distance learning applications and to develop online enrolment services for students.

“Virtual classrooms are a bit further down the track but that is where it is all headed and we are now in a position to move towards that,” concludes Ross.


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