How SDN helped IIHT deliver Learning as a Service

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Through training centers located across India, IIHT delivers a portfolio of 50 courses and trains around 60,000 students each year. A critical challenge was to keep pace with the latest software versions and the required infrastructure.

Shivajee Sharma, President and CIO, IIHT Cloud Solutions explains, “To teach a participant how to build a private cloud requires at least three machines per student, and so in a classroom of 20 users, a training center needs to have 60 machines to deploy the needed training scenarios. Along with licenses and the RAM required per user, this isn’t an approach that can be financially or logistically sustained in the long-term by dedicated training organizations or corporations.”

Due to the high costs associated with IT training delivery, IIHT Cloud Solutions decided to establish a public cloud to deliver e-learning cloud services to the training, testing, and development industry. “Most of the cloud providers in the marketplace cater to businesses requiring development and production environments. However, the capability required to host these applications is significantly less than what is required in a training environments. We wanted to have the capability to deliver infrastructure intensive technology training within a cost-effective pricing model and allow organizations to build their own training programs without having to operate a private cloud,” says Sharma.

The firm wanted to deliver Learning-as-a-Service to internal training centers and enterprise customers based on a cost-effective IT training model that would reduce complexity and improve flexibility in delivering resource intensive IT certification programs. To help it achieve its objective, the firm decided to implement SDN.

Today, SDN has helped in simplifying network complexity with 90% reduction in port density. With the cloud model requiring 1,000 servers in the data center, reducing port density was critical. As a result the Dell solution consisting of Dell PowerEdge M610 servers housed in Dell PowerEdge M1000E blade enclosures and Dell PowerEdge R510 servers, Dell Networking Active Fabric, Dell Networking M6348 switches and M6220 switches and Dell PowerVault MD1220 direct attached storage, was chosen.

Sharma explains, “Dell’s offering stood out because of their ability to reduce the overall port density by 75 % and reducing the switching environment by 90% through Dell Networking’s Active Fabric with the Dell Networking Z9000 switches. Instead of running six 1-Gigabit cables for each of the 1,000 servers, which is a complex core density to manage, with Active Fabric we have a total of seven core switches for the entire network.”

The firm can support the quick provisioning of environments that support the simultaneous learning of 20,000 users through the 40 Gbps switch to switch interconnects. For example, to complete a 60 GB provisioning of a lab scenario used to take eight minutes, whereas now the data transfer rate has been reduced by 75 % due to the network throughput achieved. Training curriculum expanded after 70% decrease in network management. “We can now launch new courses within 15 days without requiring additional infrastructure or increasing management time,” says Sharma.

Software-defined networking has helped IIHT Cloud Solutions create a unified management of the entire network, and centralized controllers increase programmability of network traffic without touching the hardware. This means network configurations can be quickly customized by IIHT Cloud Solutions network administrators automatically to the exact requirements for each customer within the training industry.

Network latency has reduced and communication can occur across multiple domains through flattening the traditional three-layer hierarchy without impacting performance. This means the organization’s numerous training centers and global locations act as if they are connected to the same LAN, resulting in more users being able to be trained simultaneously.


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Case StudyCIOcloud computingSDNShivajee Sharma
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