Automation Revolutionises Research


The University of Nottingham continues to make significant investments in IT to allow it to continue to compete as a truly world-class research centre. Investments in state of the art private cloud architecture will yield reduced operational risk and increases in efficiency for the University through the use of automation.

By deploying private cloud architecture in a huge technology overhaul, the University will empower ICT staff and researchers with an automated, self-service infrastructure. This will enable end to end service provision across the core infrastructure that in turn will support the Universities key application estate, providing key staff with increased visibility, control and chargeback capabilities for IT services and research initiatives.

Following a thorough procurement via InTend, the University chose technology partner ANS Group, selecting its automated FlexPod infrastructure, which is now being implemented across the Universities key UK Campuses.

Lucy Burrow, Director of Global IT service delivery at University of Nottingham explained,

“One of the key features of this investment is the self-service functionality this brings, particularly for our researcher community.”

“The ability for a researcher to instantly spin up an environment for a research project will make a huge difference to the capabilities and speed in which research projects progress.”

This project will deliver advancements in six key areas;

  1. The Advancement of University IT strategy; ANS will deliver radical advances in how IT is able to support the three key areas of academic research, learning and teaching, and business operations.
  1. Effective Information Management; ANS will enable the University to capture, store and provide effective, Secure access to a wide range of information sets. ANS’s solution will enable legal compliance, balanced with cost effective and responsive service provision.
  1. Operational Excellence; ANS will provide significant opportunities to improve the Universities operational effectiveness. Through a highly automated and converged infrastructure ANS will deliver step change enhancements, carbon reduction and staff skills developments which can directly contribute to such improvements.
  1. Complexity Reduction; ANS will deliver new approaches for IT delivery in order to release resources for the advancing IT agenda and to support initiatives such as Project Transform. A key driver of the current IT provision is technical complexity. Therefore delivering a step change reduction in IT complexity and enabling standardisation will facilitate a repurposing of resources to help deliver the overall IT Strategy.
  1. IT Leadership and Excellence; ANS will deliver a framework that enables the University to realise its high aspirations and desire to be striving for ‘best in sector’ provision of IT services and projects. ANS will do this through effective IT procurement, diverse provisioning models such as cloud (Azure) and the ability to enable the University to introduce internal charge / showback.
  1. Managed Service; Integration of a best in class ANS Managed Service into the existing ICT team to provide multiple perspectives on any issues that may arise over the course of the framework agreement. Through automation that adheres to key standards such as ITIL, ANS will enable the University to deliver more effective infrastructure management to significantly reduce overheads.

The technology behind the transformation is FlexPod, the integrated infrastructure collaboration between Cisco, NetApp and VMware.

ANS CTO Andy Barrow described the technology,

“FlexPod technology provides the University with the almost unlimited scalability and flexibility of cloud computing but critically ensures that the University can adapt its technology requirement to match its needs.

The adoption of showback and chargeback policies means that each department can correctly budget for the services they consume without ever over or under provisioning, reducing waste and ensuring the correct service level.”

“As higher education budgets have been squeezed, Universities are under immense pressure to demonstrate value for money and IT departments can play a huge part in helping drive down costs.  However, for Nottingham this is much more than a cost-cutting exercise. This is about investing in technology to make the organisation more efficient and agile than ever before. The highly automated and converged infrastructure will deliver step change enhancements, carbon reduction and staff skills developments all boosting the University’s operational effectiveness.”

The Information Services department at the University of Nottingham plays a key role in providing the IT facilities to support the world-class institution. The Universities services range from email and internet access in student hall study bedrooms, state-of-the-art learning and teaching facilities, through to software and hardware support in Schools and Institutes.

The University network provides access to over 30,000 fixed and wireless data access points. The University operates two datacentres on its UK Campuses. The University also connects to a growing number of off-site data centres for global service provision.

The University of Nottingham has international campuses in Ningbo, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Research Excellence Framework recently ranked the University of Nottingham 8th for research power amongst UK higher education institutions.

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