Otterbein University receives connectivity for collaboration

Connectivity is key to collaboration and learning, and a high-quality connection to the Internet is absolutely essential. OARnet has certainly provided Otterbein University with that service and more.”

Dave Bender, Executive director of information and technology services, Otterbein University

OTTERBEIN is a private university situated along tree-lined streets in the quaint Uptown section of Westerville, Ohio. Its approximately 3,000 students pursue study within 70 undergraduate majors and five graduate programs and extra-curricular opportunities in areas ranging from the Arts to athletics to community service.

It would be no surprise, that in chasing these lofty goals, very few of those students likely grasp a full understanding of the technology infrastructure required for them to achieve success. The job of making sure that infrastructure is running at “four nines,” or 99.99 percent uptime, belongs to Dave Bender, executive director of information and technology services, and he regularly turns to OARnet to help make that happen.

For example, after suffering a 30-hour outage due to a break in Otterbein’s fiber-optic link to the Internet, Bender worked with OARnet to find a more reliable solution for connectivity.

“Not a good thing,” Bender says succinctly when recalling the outage. “We ultimately moved our data center from one of our campus buildings to the nearby WeConnect Community Data Center, where OARnet installed an access point. Since then, our up time has been stellar, and we’re pleased to be supporting the city’s initiative to build public/private partnerships.”

The data center move allowed Otterbein to connect to a protected ring on OARnet’s 100-Gigabit-per-second backbone. If one side of the ring were to be cut, the university would still have service – the high degree of resiliency for which they were looking.

Many of Otterbein’s systems today are “in the cloud,” and having a reliable link to the Internet is critical to the end-user experience and online learning initiatives. Otterbein’s OARnet connection also gives students, faculty and staff adequate bandwidth for all their video and voice needs and provides them with critical resources for education and research.

In addition to more reliable service, Otterbein also realized significant savings by making the switch.

“By moving our data center, we eliminated the need for the last mile. We now pay a cross-connect fee, but it’s minimal,” Bender explained. “At the same time, OARnet bandwidth prices have continued to decrease. That allowed us to increase bandwidth by 50 percent, but still hold costs even. That is a huge boost for our students.”

“We also made technology improvements during the move, allowing us to decrease power and server maintenance costs. Altogether, we saved more than $75,000 per year,” he said.

Dana Rogers, OARnet’s client representative for Otterbein and a number of institutions in northwest Ohio, explained how Otterbein has responded to tight budgets by deploying virtualization software purchased through OARnet.

Aerial view of Otterbein
Many of Otterbein University's systems today are "in the cloud."

“We were able to help Otterbein achieve some significant savings through VMware deployments,” she explained. “Otterbein’s servers are now 100 percent virtualized. And, we now are working with Dave and his staff to implement VMware View as a virtual desktop solution, rolling it out campus-wide over the next couple of years.”

Bender shares his knowledge and insights with a group of chief information officers from 49 independent Ohio colleges and universities. The CIOs meet twice a year to discuss various IT and infrastructure issues, and, as chair, Bender often invites OARnet representatives to attend and share information with them.

Beyond highlighting OARnet within that group, Bender has recommended OARnet services to college IT leaders outside its membership. For example, when he heard a Dayton-area school was considering alternatives to purchasing bandwidth from a third party and wanted to reduce costs, he recommended that they check into OARnet.

Bender explained why he has such high confidence in OARnet: “Connectivity is key to collaboration and learning, and a high-quality connection to the Internet is absolutely essential. OARnet has certainly provided Otterbein University with that service and more.”

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