Data explosion drives storage modernization at Universit� du Qu�bec (UQAT)

To accommodate rapid data growth, the Universit� du Qu�bec en Abitibi-T�miscamingue (UQAT) modernized its storage infrastructure. UQAT's solution - built on HPE 3PAR 8400 storage and HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 servers, with the Intel Xeon processor - is meeting ambitious goals for expanded storage capacity, higher availability and stability, and reduced backup times.

UQAT is a public university in Quebec province that enrolls more than 5,000 full-time and part-time students, spread across three campuses and seven academic centers. In 2017, UQAT's School of Indigenous Studies launched a groundbreaking research project that required modernizing its data center and storage infrastructure. Team members are developing an innovative curriculum platform for research and teaching about Canada's aboriginal people. The platform will make extensive use of video interviews and oral histories, combined with online gaming, to deliver an engaging, immersive learning experience that teaches students about the nation's aboriginal history and heritage.
As Patrick B�dard, Director of Pedagogy and Technology, explains, "We knew we would need a very robust infrastructure to support this initiative. The solution has to handle explosive data growth, mostly video content. It also has to offer a positive and stable gaming experience while ensuring the daily productivity of developers, students, and faculty. An all-HPE solution, built around HPE 3PAR storage, has allowed us to meet these challenges."

Saddled with an outdated environment

UQAT's legacy data center and storage infrastructure was outdated, complex, and hard to manage. It lacked adequate storage capacity for the expected data growth. Service availability issues occurred several times a week, affecting faculty, students, and developers. Offering an example, B�dard says, "A student who's taking an online exam can't wait five minutes for the next question to come up. That's unacceptable." He adds, "Data backup times were terribly slow. It could take three days to back up our Exchange environment." He largely attributes this to a legacy infrastructure that included six separate SANs, which drastically slowed the performance of Veeam Backup & Replication.

Consolidating on an all-HPE solution

After defining core requirements, the UQAT team opted to tear out much of the old gear and consolidate storage, servers, and backups on an all-HPE solution. Replacing the disparate SANs, they implemented a 4-node, HPE 3PAR 8400 hybrid storage system, which provides 800 terabytes of capacity, expandable to 1 petabyte. Nine HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 servers, with the Intel Xeon processor, support the solution. Six are allocated to VMware and three to backup storage. HPE OneView, installed on a virtual machine, manages the solution. A proof of concept confirmed that Veeam Backup & Replication, in tandem with HPE StoreOnce disk-based backup, could readily handle the university's availability and stability demands.