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Saving Time and Reducing Hardware Maintenance with Merit VirtualDataCenters

Today many organizations are searching for ways to get more computing power without investing in hardware or expanding their current server rooms. Data center virtualization holds great potential for IT departments. Virtualization enables efficient sharing of physical servers, storage, and network resources that translates into a tremendous cost savings.

Merit VirtualDataCenters is a service that allows organizations continuous access to secure data on a trusted network. Your information can be easily moved from one place to another and hardware resources can be shared between multiple systems at the same time. High-visibility Internet applications can be located outside of your network to reduce congestion and increase availability.

Using Merit VirtualDataCenters can reduce the number of servers, reduce energy costs, reduce real estate costs, all while increasing productivity savings, increasing deployment speed, and increasing flexibility.

A Merit Member, The Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), has been working the past few years on transitioning from co-location services to a virtual data center. ICLE has moved their entire database into Merit VirtualDataCenters. Michelle Geerlings, the lead local area network administrator at the ICLE, has been very pleased with the ease of use, speed, and time saving aspects of Merit VirtualDataCenters. I had an opportunity to interview Michelle on the organization’s conversion.

Please tell me about The Institute of Continuing Legal Education?

“The Institute of Continuing Legal Education, ICLE, is part of the University of Michigan. It is located in a little building just north of the Michigan Stadium,” Geerlings said. “ICLE provides legal education to practicing Michigan attorneys. ICLE specializes in publishing books (physical & online), online how-to resources, seminars (online and in-person), law tips and hot law topic discussions.”

“My role at the Institute is to develop and maintain the infrastructure behind the website, as well as monitor and promote emerging web technologies. My efforts help to ensure that the Institute remains a top-tier educational resource for Michigan attorneys, and an industry leader in the legal education field.”

When did you begin your database transition to Merit VirtualDataCenters?

“The idea of moving from a traditional data center to a virtual one came about a few years ago. When I learned about VDC, I did a cost analysis back in September 2011. I analyzed Merit and 3 other similar datacenter cloud providers. Merit was our top pick. I wrote the business case in October 2011. All the approvals from my department were completed by the end of 2011 and I begin using the VDC in January 2012. The first service went into production on January 27th, 2012.”

How easy or difficult was the transition?

“The transition was very simple,” Geerlings said. “The VDC interface is easy to use and it’s speedy. Using the VDC is much easier than having to maintain hardware for everything. It has cut down on a lot of my hardware maintenance time.”

What does the ICLE use Merit VDC for?

“Currently, ICLE has two production services in the VDC; a SPAM appliance and SharePoint. The SPAM appliance was the first service deployed to the VDC. There are plans to move 80% of the physical hardware from our Merit Colo space to the VDC starting in December 2012.”

What are the main benefits of VDC for your organization?

“The benefits we see revolve around hardware,” Geerlings stated. “Using the VDC has eliminated hardware maintenance time. This saves many hours per year. Since ICLE is part of the University, we qualify for low cost server hardware, so our hardware cost is shifted from physical hardware to virtual. The cost is basically a wash – physical verse Merit’s VDC. However, not having to maintain physical hardware, we save 30-40 hours per year that can be used for other project work.”

Would you recommend Merit VirtualDataCenters to other Merit Members?

“Yes. It’s a great service to use.”

By consolidating their data using Merit VirtualDataCenters, ICLE has been able to spend less time managing hardware and more time furthering their goals. The Institute of Continuing Legal Education has been a Merit Member since July 2004.