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Building an Educational IT infrastructure – where there's no power or network


By James Cohen, Lead Portfolio Architect, Data Center Consulting Practice - IT Consolidation and Virtualization


James_Cohen_badge.pngI was talking to an educator from East Africa at HP Discover, and he posed an interesting problem.  He is looking to provide 40 workstations in 300 villages, in an area without mains power or networking. The goal is to enable educational services to be delivered to schools in each of the villages, enabling the pupils to access online learning.


With no power or network, the major issue was how to power the infrastructure, and this was going to be done with solar power and batteries.  The major cost was powering the infrastructure, rather than the infrastructure itself.


Having looked at a number of conventional infrastructure products, he realized that these were all designed for resilience and availability – they had multiple power supplies, and the servers had far more capability than necessary for the type of solution he had in mind.


After visits to a number of booths here at Discover, he got the answer he needed from our Personal Systems team – a small ProLiant ML server to support 40 virtual machines, a small 48 port switch, connected by Ethernet to 40 ethernet-powered thin clients.  The total power requirement for the infrastructure would be no more than 2.5kW.


So the question is: Where else in the world could this type of solution be deployed? Maybe the future for infrastructure is to focus on power requirements, above availability? It’s clear that in many parts of the world there’s plenty of sunlight, but little access to conventional power or networks, and that the cost of generating (and storing) power is far greater than the cost of providing IT. And providing educational IT is the starting point for educating the future workforce.


Whether this is a converged infrastructure might be a moot point, but it’s clear that this type of solution is key to the future education of thousands of students in East Africa.


Learn more about HP IT Infrastructure Consulting Services.

  • Converged Infrastructure
  • HP Discover
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Good read. Sound like this could also be great for  Haiti and other third world country. I know electric power is a big issue there with frequent power outages.  

Thank you for your feedback, I think that power is going to become more and more important over the next decade, whether it is in the classroom or the data center.  Education is clearly the way to help people to develop their countries and the sort of solution this customer is looking at, could be deployed anywhere where power distribution is a problem.



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