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Merit Network Inc. to Provide VMware Solutions to Help Michigan Educational Institutions Cut IT Costs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network Inc. announced today that they have entered into an agreement with VMware to launch the MeritLicensing Service – VMware Program, a three-year initiative that aggregates VMware solutions and provides access to them through Merit Network, for numerous educational institutions in Michigan. The initiative could save Merit Members more than $391 million in capital expenses and $56 million in operating expenses over the next five years.
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The initiative provides Merit Network unlimited licenses for the full portfolio of state-of-the art virtualization software and technical support services from industry leader VMware at significantly discounted pricing. Merit Network Members in the areas of higher education (public universities, private colleges and community colleges), K-12 intermediate school districts, libraries, governmental agencies and some medical teaching health care institutions that are funded by education will be eligible to participate in this program.

“By working with VMware we’ve been able to bring this revolutionary software to our members with extraordinary savings,” stated Don Welch, president and CEO of Merit Network. “Merit members will be able to achieve efficiencies in their data centers that were typically beyond reach before this partnership.”

“Virtualization” with VMware

While some Michigan colleges and universities have already begun virtualizing their information technology (IT) systems to achieve cost-savings as well as greater levels of technological sophistication, others are considering moving in this direction. Virtualization is regarded as a revolutionary technology that has transformed how leading organizations around the globe manage IT operations. When an organization “virtualizes,” it is able to reduce the number of physical servers and desktop computers that it maintains, while improving application availability and business agility. Virtualization is a cost-effective and efficient way to man IT processes.

“VMware has a long-standing commitment to helping colleges and universities expand research and teaching opportunities,” said Carl Eschenbach, executive vice president, worldwide field operations, VMware. “The VMware platform can help the public sector in Michigan reduce operating costs while delivering new capabilities that can extend distance learning to more students, enhance lab environments and course curricula, and streamline business operations.”

In addition to saving operational costs for institutions, there is good news for students as well. The program may reduce out-of-pocket expenses for Michigan college students. One area of potential costs savings to students is in the area of distance learning. In distance learning much of the work is done by students on personal computers. For classes like Computer Aided Design, students currently have to spend money in equipping personal computers with hardware upgrades or new software; for some it requires a drive to the nearest computer lab to run sophisticated design programs. The VMware “virtual desktop” can provide all of the software, hardware, and computing power the distance student would typically need to complete these courses. Virtual desktops are stored centrally inside a datacenter and are accessible from any device or location, with each user’s data stored securely within the virtual machine.

Saving Much Needed Dollars

It is estimated that Michigan’s public sector currently has 4,000 servers and 5,000 desktops that could be virtualized. With participation in this program, Michigan would realize significant cost reductions in IT hardware budgets for servers and desktop computer purchases, accompanied by lower operations and maintenance costs. VMware estimates that power and cooling savings alone could amount to more than $19 million in savings.

Enhancing Green IT

By implementing virtualization, Merit Members will also be considered an active participant in “Green IT”, a national initiative to reduce IT-related costs, increase productivity and improve performance in computing while minimizing environmental impact. The increased computational capacity provided on fewer desktops and servers will help decrease power and cooling needs for campus systems.

The agreement announced today is expected to result in a reduction in power consumption of approximately 3,771 million kilowatt hours annually, which would reduce CO2 emissions by 20,318 tons.

Want to Learn More

Merit Network and VMware will be presenting additional information about this new program at the 2010 Merit Member Conference being held on May 26-27, 2010 at the Four Points Sheraton, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

About Merit Network

Merit Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained at the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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