University of Canberra firms up cloud, paves way for AI with Nutanix

Image courtesy of UC

University of Canberra (UC) slashed its IT infrastructure costs and optimised its cloud computing expenses using the Nutanix Cloud Platform, according to the hybrid multicloud computing company.

Founded in 1967, UC is home to leading research centres and institutes including the Centre for Conservation Ecology and Genomics, Health Research Institute, and more. 

Located in Australia’s capital, UC has more than 15,500 students, academics, researchers, and professional staff.

While UC’s cloud/network architecture comprises several elements of the Nutanix Cloud Platform, the latest implementation was the NCM Cost Governance solution – one which UC CIO Matt Carmichael said had an immediate impact.

“We have a small IT team, and the tool gives us a single pane of glass to monitor our usage across Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, automatically alerting us to any ‘gotchas’ where spend might tick up and we don’t know why,” said Carmichael. 

“That has saved us a couple times. One instance was when our backups in Google Cloud weren’t being aged out appropriately, increasing our bills exponentially,” he said. “We were able to quickly get it back in line with Nutanix technology.”

Carmichael added that these cost savings were just the tip of the iceberg as previous implementations had drastically reduced the University’s IT expenses and infrastructure needs.

“Using Nutanix to implement our private cloud was a major reason we were able to replace our disaster recovery (DR) data centre with a micro data centre,” he said. 

The CIO said this meant that when UC needed a new DR facility, it only required three racks of space, instead of the existing 24. This led to upfront financial savings of around $2 million, and ongoing savings in operational costs and energy usage.

“Further, we’ve been able to consolidate the server and storage assets we need by 78% which led to an additional projected saving of more than $1.5 million as we didn’t have to purchase all that new equipment,” he said.

Carmichael said that as existing infrastructure reached the end of its lifecycle, workloads previously running on three-tier architecture were migrated to Nutanix. 

Today, more than 90% of the university’s core applications run on Nutanix Cloud Platform, including the key student management, finance, human resources, and database systems.

“What we saw as we migrated more workloads to Nutanix was massive consolidation in the IT hardware we needed – we saw shrinking in our data centre footprint requirements almost immediately,” Carmichael said. “It was also much easier to manage and support, particularly with seamless one-click upgrades. Previously, our traditional infrastructure meant we had all these different hoops you had to jump through.”

While the financial and operational savings have enabled UC to invest in enhancing the student learning experience, Carmichael said one of the greatest benefits had stemmed from improving the quality of its teaching in the areas of AI and deep learning.

“We recently added undergraduate specialist majors in Robotics, AI, and Data Science, a Masters of Data Science, and Post Graduate specialisations in AI and machine learning. To teach these courses effectively requires a significantly increased capacity for GPU-enabled computing resources,” Carmichael said.