GOAL Academy High School delivers grade-A academic services to students with Lenovo technology

Overview
GOAL Academy High School delivers academic courses and learning material to students online. But without a centralized server infrastructure in place, the school found it increasingly difficult to react rapidly to curriculum changes, and often suffered from unplanned outages. To boost agility, performance and reliability, GOAL Academy implemented the Lenovo Converged HX3500 Series appliance with Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform software. Supported by the Lenovo solution, GOAL Academy can give students anytime access to up to date learning material – without interruption.
 
“The Lenovo HX solution is an absolute rock star – the hyperconverged cluster does everything we need it to do and then some.”
 —Jamie Trujillo,
Director of Information Technology,
GOAL Academy High School
 
Solution components
Hardware
Lenovo Converged HX3500 Appliance with Intel® Xeon® E5 family of processors
 
Software
Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform Software
 
Services
Lenovo installation and implementation services
 
Clients
Lenovo N22 Chromebooks and Lenovo N22 Window laptops with Intel Celeron® N3050 family of processors
 
“The Lenovo HX hyperconverged cluster enables us to deliver on our core mission: to provide every student with access to learning material and instruction
anywhere, at any time. And we couldn’t be happier about that.”
 —Jamie Trujillo,
Director of Information Technology,
GOAL Academy High School
 
GOAL Academy High School is a public charter, online high school serving students from 9th-12th grade up to age 20 throughout the state of Colorado. Of the school’s 3,750 students, over 95 percent are defined by the state as ‘at-risk’ – from gang involvement, criminal behavior, incarceration, abuse, or teen pregnancy – making GOAL Academy the largest alternative education campus in the United States.

As an online, blended learning high school, GOAL Academy primarily administers the curriculum to students via the Internet, but academic support staff are also available at 28 drop-in centers across Colorado.

Struggling to keep pace
Jamie Trujillo, Director of Information Technology at GOAL Academy High School, takes up the story: “The majority of learning material and instruction is delivered online, so all students are provided with a laptop to access their courses and do their schoolwork. For us to be able to deliver online academic content on time, having a reliable, high-performance IT infrastructure is crucial.”

In the past, however, GOAL Academy did not have a centralized server infrastructure in place.

Jamie Trujillo elaborates: “There was no real back-end infrastructure to speak of – we would have to cobble together servers from existing IT resources ad hoc. Naturally, this made it very difficult to adapt fast to changes in the curriculum. It also meant that we were unable to offer advanced curriculum, data management and data warehousing services. To make matters worse, the servers would sometimes crash, bringing student services down.

“As an online high school, it’s very important that we get technology right. To keep pace with ever-changing academic curriculums and guidelines, and continue delivering high-quality educational services, we knew that we needed to modernize our infrastructure.”

Teaming up with Lenovo and Nutanix
After evaluating offerings from several vendors, GOAL Academy decided to invest in a hyperconverged infrastructure, as Jamie Trujillo explains: “We were after a high-density solution – we didn’t want to have to manage a huge physical server footprint. Crucially, we wanted to be able to allocate resources fast and react to changes quickly. For us, hyperconvergence deployed as an enterprise cloud, ticked all of the boxes.

“Once we knew what kind of infrastructure we wanted, we turned to Lenovo for support. Having worked with Lenovo before, we have a great relationship with the local team and knew that they had the right product for us.”

GOAL Academy implemented Lenovo Converged HX3500 Appliance, integrated with Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform software and Intel® S2710 Solid State Drives, for a single software-defined environment. Powered by Intel Xeon® E5 processor family, the three-node Lenovo solution offers levels of high performance.

“We worked closely with both Lenovo and Nutanix to implement and configure the HX cluster,” recalls Jamie Trujillo. “The Nutanix guys were a phenomenal help during the configuration stage in particular. We were really grateful that Lenovo was able to bring such a good team together and get everybody on the same wavelength.”

As part of its drive to modernize IT, GOAL Academy plans to invest in approximately 4,000 Lenovo Windows computers for students. Jamie Trujillo comments: “We’re slowly but surely phasing out our existing fleet of HP Chromebooks and replacing them with Lenovo laptops. The Lenovo machines offer great performance at a great price – and are robust enough to survive whatever pupils throw at them!”

Top of the class
Today, the Lenovo solution powers all GOAL Academy’s databases, web servers and directory services despite taking up just half of one rack.

Jamie Trujillo remarks: “Now that we’ve got everything up and running, the Lenovo solution is an absolute rock star – the HX hyperconverged cluster does everything we need it to do and then some. It used to take us hours to cobble a server together.With the Lenovo solution, it now takes less than three minutes to provision a virtual server. This means that we are much better equipped to deliver online academic content on time, and we can react fast when the curriculum changes. And because we no longer suffer from unplanned outages, students can access courses and learning materials around the clock.

“What’s more, the cluster’s minimal footprint means that we don’t have to spend hours each day managing and maintaining infrastructure. We only need one server administrator, which frees up the rest of the IT team’s time to focus on more pressing tasks, such as repairing students’ broken laptops so that they can get back to their studies as quickly as possible.”

Offering high levels of performance and reliability, as well as easy manageability, the Lenovo solution has given GOAL Academy a real boost when it comes to delivering academic services.

Jamie Trujillo concludes: “The Lenovo HX hyperconverged cluster enables us to deliver on our core mission: to provide every student with access to learning material and instruction anywhere, at any time. And we couldn’t be happier about that.”

For more information
To learn more about Lenovo Data Center Systems solutions, contact your Lenovo Sales Representative or Lenovo Business Partner, or visit: lenovo.com/systems

For more information about GOAL Academy High School, visit: www.goalac.org or connect with @GOALACADEMY
 
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