The Beginning of a Journey...

[caption id="attachment_27" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Some of our servers in our server room..."][/caption]

This is both frightening and exciting at the same time. The beginning of the story is: Dell (as a company) decided that they were sorry for the poor customer service they had provided in our area, so they had a little bit of 'seed' money with which they gave us a free server, built specifically for virtualization. My boss worked her magic as well and was able to pick up another one just like it (Dell PowerEdge R710), a SAN (EqualLogic PS4000X), and a couple copies of VMware ESXi. We have not started the process of setting up the server yet, but it's definitely going to be quite the process but very exciting.

An opportunity like this doesn't happen very often, especially in our school district. To give you a better idea of what I mean, right now we're running servers that are approximately 15 years old, running Netware 6.5 for pretty much everything: routing at sites, DNS, DHCP, web services, and authentication. So, as you could imagine, this is going to be quite the change for us. We'll be building several virtualized Windows 2008 servers, and switching to Active Directory for authentication and be able to take advantage of all the benefits that gives us.

In order to make all these changes, our network infrastructure is going to change tremendously. Our goal, which has a deadline of August 1, 2011, is to remove everything that is Novell (including Groupwise, authentication, storage, and routing). To begin, we need to replace the Novell Netware servers that are acting as routers out at the sites with something else--in our discussions, we have come up with two options: Ubuntu servers with two NICs acting as routers, or attempting to find cheap Cisco routers somewhere. All these devices need to do is perform basic routing and serve out DHCP--nothing too terribly special. During this time, we are also definitely making the switch to Google Apps for Education, which is a huge process in and of itself.

This is going to be quite the exciting project, and one that is going to have both exciting times and times where we take a deep breath and say "here we go" as we flip the switch...but it'll all be for the better eventually.


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