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Red Hat Linux centralizes Bryant University IT

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Information technology at Bryant University was a twisted potpourri of hardware and software before Linux came along.

The concept of a centralized data center seemed unreachable amid the university's eclectic mix of Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Dell hardware, but it was something that president Ronald Machtley wanted addressed by those in IT.

According to Art Gloster, the Smithfield, R.I. university's vice president for information services, the school -- now ranked the second most wired university by the Princeton Review – had "a little bit of everything and not much of anything."

Three separate data centers tracked the university's information about students, financing, human resources, class scheduling and alumni applications. An inventory check of the servers in use around the campus turned up between 74 to 78 servers. Some of them were rogue servers, Gloster said, whose existence had previously been unknown to the IT faculty.

Worse yet, the search had turned up a fact more startling than any "lost server" could have managed: Many of the servers at Bryant University were using only 10% of their capacity.

"It was not a very stable environment, and this was something we felt we needed to create," he said. "It was a reliability issue and a maintenance problem because of the number of vendors involved."

Essentially, the system had become decentralized, Gloster said.

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