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Addressing the Needs for Research and Administrative Computing. Research and Administrative Computing Committee Presented October 8, 2007. Addressing Administrative Computing Needs.

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Addressing the needs for research and administrative computing

Addressing the Needsfor Research and Administrative Computing

Research and Administrative Computing Committee

Presented October 8, 2007


Addressing Administrative Computing Needs

Our approach is to provide central IT data center facility services to departmental applications. To introduce best practice computing standards and to migrate departmental applications to run within a controlled, secure NUIT-managed space.

Movement of departmental servers into the data center facility

began in 1999.


Efficiencies Introduced to Lower Operating Costs

  • Standardize Platforms

  • Six (6) operating systems supported in 1999

  • Three (3) operating systems supported in 2007

  • Tiered Storage Solutions

  • Nearline Storage: UltraScalable tape library introduced 2002

  • Low-Tier Storage: IBM DS4100 introduced 2005

  • Mid-Tier Storage: IBM DS4500 introduced 2004

  • High-End Storage: IBM DS8100 introduced 2005

  • Consolidated Storage

  • Virtual file storage service introduced May 2006to consolidate storage using a tiered storage approach

  • Virtualization of Servers

  • Virtual server service introduced May 2007to consolidate physical machines


Service Level Agreements Define Services Provided

  • Service Level Agreements are used to clarify the level of service provided. To align data center services with customer expectations, we defined terms frequently used in requesting computing requirements and system availability services. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) concept was introduced in 2004 and we are following this service model.

  • Definition of Terms

  • and Classifying Business Requirements

  • Disaster Recovery (DR)

    • Overall process of recovery

    • Includes rebuilding hardware and applications

    • Is not solved with high availability systems

    • Off-site location may or may not be used

    • Never a purely technical process

  • System Classification

    • Supports a classified business function and process whereas

    • Class 1 = Non-vital, Class 2 = Vital, or Class 3 = Critical

    • Have a defined recovery time objective

    • Have a defined recovery point objective

  • High Availability (HA)

    • Addresses speed of recovery from unplanned outages

    • Scheduled planned maintenance still occurs

    • Systems are not protected against natural or human-caused calamity

    • Service available in four different levels

    • Business requirement determines level of HA service


Evaluation and upgrade of data center facilities
Evaluation and Upgrade of Data Center Facilities

A continuous evaluation and upgrade process is used to measure facility capabilities against current and projected demands. To match the demand, capital investments to upgrade the data center facility infrastructure began in 2003 and more improvement projects are underway.

2003 Evaluation

Data Center Needs Assessment by WMA Consulting Engineers was performed to address architectural, HVAC, electrical, fire protection, and site layout needs for the Evanston facility.

2005 Upgrade

New UPS systems and generator installed in 2005

2006 Upgrade

Chicago data center brought online December 2006 to provide failover of critical business systems and provide departmental and research server rack space for the Chicago Campus

2007 Evaluation

Data Center Power Study performed by EYP Mission Critical Facilities to assess electrical infrastructure of Evanston facility in 2007 and identifies weaknesses

2008 Upgrade

HVAC and Fire Suppression upgrades are slated for spring 2008


Addressing research computing needs
Addressing Research Computing Needs

Our approach is to provide Northwestern University researchers with a shared central High Performance Computing (HPC) Facility within a controlled, secure NUIT-managed space where technical staff with domain research support experience can be shared.

Movement of researchers into the data center facility:

  • Social Science Computing Cluster (SSCC) arrives 2004

  • Small research center online April 2004:

    - Computer Science - Material Science - School of Communication

    • Geological Science - Life Sciences

  • Isilon clustered mid-tier storage introduced 2007

  • Kalogera High Performance Computing (HPC) Cluster arrives 2007

    Consensus building and researcher needs assessment:

  • University Committee on Information Technology (UCIT) Vision 2020 Report prepared May 2007 captures faculty needs for technology to support research, scholarly and creative activity through 2020.

  • High-Performance Computing (HPC) Feasibility Study is underway with EYP Mission Critical Facilities to advise NUIT on cost-effective means to accommodate HPC systems in the Evanston data center.


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