Dimension Data Australia takes Heart Research Institute to Microsoft cloud

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Dimension Data Australia takes Heart Research Institute to Microsoft cloud

Dimension Data Australia has taken the Heart Research Institute to the cloud to help the not-for-profit manage its increasing data requirements, as well as supplying it with a fleet of new devices.

HRI is an Australian research firm based in Sydney that partners with universities and hospitals to research heart disease in an effort to reduce and help with cardiovascular disease.

The team of 160 staff has to contend with an IT network that was implemented when HRI only had three researchers working with multiple megabytes at a time.

HRI now has to manage a 40TB trove of data that needs to be available to researchers dispersed across the country. HRI is also required by regulation to store any data it generates for the next 15 years.

"When our researchers release a paper they also now need to make the underlying research data available to the public, which is a challenge when, in some cases we are talking terabytes of data for one paper," said HRI IT director Adam O'Halloran.

Dimension Data stepped in with a Microsoft cloud solution, initially deploying Office 365 for its collaboration tools and Azure for backup and disaster recovery.

Once HRI was on board with Office 365, the organisation found the opportunity to upgrade its Exchange and intranet servers, replacing them with collaboration and file sharing tools like OneDrive.

O'Halloran told CRN that the Azure implementation was done more tentatively.

First, HRI rolled out the public cloud for backup and disaster recovery, and Dimension Data later implemented Microsoft Enterprise Mobility & Security to allow staff to work on the go, and Azure Active Directory for identity management and cloud access.

HRI was able to decommission its on-premises legacy servers, and now only runs one server that hosts Exchange, domain controllers and smaller proprietary research tools, with StorSimple used as a hybrid cloud storage solution.

Using tools like SharePoint, Sharefile and OneDrive, HRI can also make its research data available to the public.

HRI moved away from its BYOD program, instead opting to procure 160 Lenovo Carbon X1 and Yoga 1 laptops, which can be used by researchers off-site when they're placed in universities or hospitals.

Along with the new software and cloud capabilities, the HRI team got their hands on three Surface Hubs, Microsoft's wide-screen devices that can be used by researchers for compute-intensive applications as well as collaboration.

"Collaboration is now much much easier thanks to this system. We can now collaborate and share data across great distances, which was one of the primary aims of the project," said O'Halloran.

"Researchers are no longer be encumbered by having to wait for a file to upload or download, or have to worry about storage. The system we have in place frees them up to do what they do best: undertake research which can save lives."

The project has been in the works for two years and is expected to reach 95 percent completion within the next six months.

"As a not-for-profit we need to ensure we get the most out of each dollar spent and Dimension Data have assisted by guiding us towards the best and most cost-effective solutions for us," said O'Halloran.

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