Imperial College London
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- Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)
- Gravity R&D
- Imperial College London
- Integrating Several Legacy IT Departments
- International Financial Services Provider
- Large Car Manufacturer
- Large Regional Bank
- Large U.S. Based Hospital System
- LeasePlan, AWS and Device42
- Maxihost Datacenter Ltd.
- Migrating 40,000 Servers to a Private Cloud
- Netcetera Group Ag.
- SoftBank Corp.
- TP ICAP
- World’s Largest Virtualization Company
Imperial College London (Imperial) was established in 1907 and is a prestigious public research university located in London, United Kingdom that is known for its world-class research, academic excellence, and contributions to science, engineering, medicine, and business on a global scale. It consistently ranks among the top universities globally.
Imperial’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Department is responsible for supporting administrative, research, teaching, and e-learning departments. The university’s infrastructure is characterized by its hybrid nature, encompassing a range of services and platforms, including:
- Onsite data centers and colocation facilities supporting private clouds, high-performance computing environments, blade platforms, and rack-mount servers.
- SaaS providers.
- Multiple public cloud providers, providing PaaS, IaaS, services, running anything from VMs to containerized applications, function apps to databases.
The complexity of this environment requires effective visibility and management that necessitates the adoption of comprehensive tools to maintain control and gain insights.
Recognizing the necessity to address the visibility gap in their infrastructure management, Imperial had explored various options. Among these was Device42. However, the pivotal moment came when Imperial decided to transition workloads to the cloud.
Andy Lax, Head of Tooling at Imperial, remarked, “With a partner’s recommendation and considering our prior assessments, we decided to do a quick trial to prove out that the solution would actually do what we needed it to do.”
“One of the aspects that prompted us to consider Device42, and one of the key benefits we sought from this tool was Application Dependency Mapping (ADM). ADM was used to enhance our comprehension of the primary dependencies for our services, which, in turn, assisted us in determining the requirements for transitioning them to the cloud to ensure their functionality,” Lax added.
With ADM data, Imperial identified its connections to various components, such as the essential service-specific objects like applications, databases, or file servers, and the infrastructure elements like the patching and logging services, which are standard day-to-day requirements for any service.
“The advantage was that we could determine that, for migrating a certain service to the cloud, all we needed to relocate were its specific components such as a database and some file storage. This streamlined approach made the migration process much more manageable. It allowed us to take a gradual and systematic approach, focusing on individual components rather than attempting to tackle the entire system at once, which made the migration smoother and more efficient.”
CHARGING IT COSTS TO APPROPRIATE DEPARTMENTS
The Tooling team offers tooling as a service, including Automation, Testing, DevOps, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), Business Continuity, Infrastructure and Application Monitoring, and Inventory and Discovery, to Imperial administrative, university departments, and research groups for enhanced operational efficiency and to reduce shadow IT.
About half of the ICT Department team uses Device42, including the Tooling, Monitoring, Data Center, Recharging, and Management teams.“We use Device42 to discover an inventory of everything that sits inside our data centers, colocation facilities, and in the cloud,” Lax said. “We also use it for inventory, asset management, data center management, and power management.
As a research university, Imperial’s IT team often needs to spin up VMs for research teams when they receive new grants. A feature of Device42 is the ability to track purchases and filter by vendor, building, cost center, date purchased, order completion date, depreciation timeline, and in service.
“The research teams pay a nominal, yearly rental fee for a VM. Every year, they get recharged for that VM,” Lax commented. “We record that recharging amount in Device42 and the information is pushed into Splunk for us to provide reporting to our recharge team.”
“The Recharging team now has full visibility of all the recharging they are performing, and the data highlights any VMs that have not undergone recharging.” Lax added: “A significant portion of this data, including for example, end-of-life (EOL) data, is integrated into Splunk, which, in turn, plays a pivotal role in supporting our monitoring, security, and service analytics.
Subsequently, we leverage this data to trigger security alerts for users operating on unsupported operating systems, as well as to identify potential security risks for users, servers, and services across the wider university.”
Imperial utilizes Device42’s Configuration Management Database (CMDB) with custom fields to record crucial information such as whether a service should undergo monitoring and who should receive alerts for a particular host. They have also implemented a system that empowers teams to autonomously update their own records. This autonomy provides them with control over whether their machines are monitored and who receives alerts.
SAVED TIME WITH AUDIT
One of Imperial’s insurers wanted more detailed replacement cost information for the equipment in the data centers. “We used Device42 because the Data Center team was able to export an inventory of all assets and put a replacement cost against the different makes and models of kit we had,” said Lax. “This saved the Data Center team hours and hours of work.”
BENEFITS AND FUTURE PLANS
The ICT Department hosts servers used by university departments and research groups, and a primary objective for Imperial is to ensure comprehensive visibility into what applications are running on these hosted servers and the operating systems (OSs) and versions.
Device42 will support this endeavor, providing visibility into the entire estate, including software and version information, to assess the associated risk profile.
Additionally, there is an emphasis on gaining insights into cloud environments, and Device42 will inventory the cloud resources and OSs.
“We also will be using Device42 to understand our power usage in the data centers to know where our biggest power draws are to get a better understanding from a sustainability perspective.”
Lax commented. “Steven Prescott-Jones, Director of Digital Infrastructure Imperial, recently addressed our Sustainability Efforts in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to IT podcast.”
By adopting Device42, Imperial has achieved greater visibility into both on-premise and cloud infrastructures, leading to improved asset management, security, and overall efficiency.
Device42’s ability to integrate with other platforms, such as Splunk, has enhanced their analytical and monitoring capabilities. Moving forward, the university plans to continue leveraging Device42 to enhance its infrastructure management and further optimize its operations.
“Overall, our experience with Device42 has been positive, and we appreciate the ongoing support and improvements that your team provides,” Lax added.