Cloud Services Uncategorized

Another VMware Cloud: Oxford University Runs Their Hybrid Cloud on VMware

Oxford University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, with over 900 years behind its belt and 40 world-class leading universities to boot. For a university system renowned for its research, the ability to efficiently manage data for all 40,000 of its users is of the utmost importance.

Oxford University has been using VMware technology to virtualize their infrastructure since 2003, so VMware was a natural first choice when it came to undertaking their major Database-as-a-Service hybrid cloud project. Through VMware vCloud Service Provider Colt and VMware’s Hybrid Cloud Activate service, Oxford University was able to achieve what would have taken 6 or 7 months in a matter of weeks.

According to Dr. Stuart Lee, Director of Computing Systems and Services at Oxford University, the University wanted to offer a service that would allow them to quickly run up a virtual machine for users within the University’s colleges or departments – essentially enabling users to buy VMs for rent.  Oxford University received 1.4 million pounds from the UK as part of the UK’s promotion of shared services in higher education and use of the cloud, as well as a strict deadline.

By bringing together all of the University’s research data in a central place, Oxford University was able to: 

  • Assist researchers in managing the data they produced, while also allowing them to quickly tweak it.
  • Reduce the provisioning of towers and desktop machines across the university.
  • Increase efficiency by eliminating the need to build databases on an individual basis. 


With the guidance and expertise of VMware and vCloud Provider, Colt, Oxford University was able to realize their Database-as-a-Service goal, and created a self-service project that enabled users to quickly fire up a database within a central service.

Oxford chose VMware to move to the cloud for three key reasons:

  • VMware is the industry leader in virtualization;
  • VMware builds on your existing virtualization foundation;
  • VMware provides a complete solution stack to power your cloud infrastructure.

Whereas the standard process of building a database and ordering a server can take up to several months, Oxford’s DBaaS solution enabled the University to provision databases in minutes. 

So what’s next for Oxford University? The University’s future direction is now looking at providing Oxford’s Database-as-a-Service solution to other institutions in the UK as part of the UK’s promotion of shared services within higher education. They are also looking towards linking up with the UK’s national public cloud.

Visit Another VMware Cloud to learn more about VMware’s Hybrid Cloud Activate service and other companies who have successfully deployed a public or hybrid cloud model through VMware. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @vCloud and @VMwareSP for more Another VMware Cloud stories! 


3 comments have been added so far

  1. I would love to hear more about how you are building your database as a vApp. Do you have a template that you use to build the SQL server from every time, or do you deploy the OS and then layer SQL on top?

  2. Oxford has a vApp template
    (which includes the OS and their Database App) that their customers deploy
    as opposed to a ‘deploy an OS template, then deploy SQL on top’.

  3. Database as a service is a cool capability. However, describing this as a “hybrid cloud” is deeply misleading. The industry has settled on a pretty consistent meaning for the term, referring to usage patterns that span private and public IaaS clouds. (Think “cloud federation” or “cloud-bursting”, for example.) This Oxford system doesn’t have anything to do with this, and describing it as “hybrid cloud” just detracts from an otherwise interesting case study.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *