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With cash-strapped schools holding bake sales to buy classroom supplies and fund student programs, the concept of having state-of-the-art IT systems rivaling those of Fortune 500 companies would seem impossible. But a grassroots effort spearheaded by Bloomington Public Schools in Illinois is doing just that.


Bloomington Public School District


Bloomington, Illinois


Development of the "IlliniCloud", a community cloud that allows school districts across the state to share hardware, applications, services and IT support.


F5 ARX2000 with Cloud Extender , F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager 3900 , Cisco UCS , VMware vSphere Virtualization Software , Fibre Channel Storage Arrays , NAS , CommVault Data Protection and Archive Bundles


150 K-12 school districts (and counting) are participating in this effort. Most districts are seeing a 30% to 60% reduction in their costs.


As recognition of the IlliniCloud success, Bloomington School District #87 took home SNW's Spring 2011 award for Best Practices in Virtualization and Cloud Computing.

The Challenge

There are 860 school districts in Illinois. Some districts have an IT staff, others have no IT budget and several are struggling to provide adequate storage capacity and lack the right tools for managing, disseminating, and archiving data.

In order to receive critical funding (mandated by No Child Left Behind), schools are under pressure to make the use of technology a priority. And they are trying to do so in the midst of a state budget shortfall due to the national economic downturn.


The Solution

With guidance from CDW Solutions Architects and through participating school districts' IT investments, and state and federal grants, a community cloud was built.

The IlliniCloud (a nonprofit consortium launched two years ago), is made of three data centers across the state and allows school districts - as well as private and parochial K-12 schools - to share hardware, applications, services and IT support.

“CDW has a good set of networking and storage people. Their people had some great knowledge in areas we lacked, so they gave us some good guidance and served as a sounding board for us.”
- Jason Radford, Bloomington Schools System Administrator


How We Did It

Bloomington Public Schools, began implementing the latest data center technologies, which served as the pathway to creating the IlliniCloud.

CDW worked closely with the IlliniCloud, providing pre-sales support and onsite consultation and services. We brought together various vendor partners and technologies to help implement a cloud computing solution.

The IlliniCloud was built using Cisco's Unified Computing System, which integrates technology solutions such as:

  • F5 Big-IP load-balancing equipment
  • VMware vSphere virtualization software
  • Fibre Channel storage arrays and enterprise-level storage equipment
  • Juniper Networks 10 gigabit Ethernet networking gear



Today, the IlliniCloud is providing schools with state-of-the-art IT resources that they couldn't otherwise afford. Unlike public clouds, the data stored in the IlliniCloud will stay within the state, in order to give districts complete control of their data.

So far, about 150 school districts have joined the initiative; within three years, the IlliniCloud plans to have 400 members. Participating members are seeing between a 30% to 60% reduction in their costs. Early adopters are using the cloud to back up their data or host critical applications, such as student information systems.

"This is a great resource for all of us in education," says Mike Swanson, Technology Manager at a Kildeer, Illinois school district. "These are tough economic times, and this is an opportunity for us all to make a change."


Getting Started with Cloud Computing

CDW can help organizations mix and match products and capabilities to develop infrastructures that are capable of scaling as cloud service demands grow. CDW system engineers work directly with an organization's IT team to develop a cloud evolution strategy that builds on the existing enterprise infrastructure.

We are ready to assist you with every phase of choosing and leveraging the right solution for your IT environment.
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