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August 5, 2008

Foundry Networks helps British Library deliver digital content

The British Library has upgraded its network infrastructure to support its ongoing projects to digitise content and embrace virtualisation.

By Janine Milne

Home to every book and newspaper published in the UK, the Library has roughly 150 million items in its catalogue and their numbers are swelling by 3 million a year. Its treasure trove includes the Magna Carta, Leonard da Vinci’s notebooks and the original manuscripts of Beatles songs. The library has long relied on Foundry Networks to provide the switching to provide the access and capacity to support this wide and growing range of content to the public.

Upgrading its Foundry Networks switching with the latest BigIron RX-8 Layer 2/3 backbone switches and FastIron Edge X Series over Ethernet (PoE) switches at its St Pancras and Boston Spa sites is helping the Library to continue its plans to digitise its historical and newly produced content.

Originally, the Library had turned to Foundry Networks to replace an obsolete fibre distributed data interface (FDDI) 3Com network and support an upgrade to Windows NT at its Boston Spa site. This was followed with a replacement of its Cisco ATM network at the St Pancras site with Foundry equipment.

Foundry is also supporting the Library’s move towards virtualisation by increasing available bandwidth. “We have large enterprise power costs and space is a problem, particularly in St Pancras and we looked at how we could consolidate the servers. We’ve cut down server numbers by 70 servers with VMware,” explains Stephen Lilgert, head of infrastructure and development at the British Library.

That has enabled the library to cut £14,000 from its annual power costs and free up 7% more precious floor space. The Foundry upgrades also support the Library’s voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing capabilities.

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