Projects

Data Center Upgrade

The University and University Information Technology Services (ITS) are embarking on a two-phase project to upgrade power distribution to the Data Center in the Edward V. Gant Science Complex.

The $4 million project, now in the design phase, is aimed at improving the efficiency and integrity of the system that keeps the University’s central computer servers running.

The existing infrastructure – power distribution and related mechanical equipment – are 10 to 40 years old, according to engineers with Integrated Design Group, an architecture, engineering, and planning firm that has been contracted to design the project.

“This project will address critical needs of the Data Center,” said RC Teal, Assistant Director, ITS Infrastructure, such as replacing the aging uninterruptable power supply (UPS). Teal says the new UPS configuration will provide a redundant reliable source of power during campus outage events.

An important step in updating the data center is to move electrical and data cabling from beneath the Data Center floor to an overhead cable tray system.  This will significantly reduce the risks associated with an under floor flooding event, as well as greatly increasing air flow to keep servers from overheating.

The project is also focused on removing water from the server room. “Our recommendation is to replace the water based sprinkler system with a clean-agent fire suppression system and thereby removing water from the Data Center entirely,” says Teal. Clean-agent fire suppression uses gases to extinguish fire without damaging equipment. The compressed gases are stored in canisters and delivered by a network of pipes.

The upgrade project includes architectural, mechanical, electrical, and fire protection components. Highlights of the work are as follows:

Phase 1 – installation of a new 300+ kilowatt UPS with provisions for two additional units; and adding two computer room air conditioning units;

Phase 2 – installation of a backup power source; replacement of the sprinkler system with a clean agent fire suppression system; installation of overhead cabling.

The project will result in a stable, monitored, and redundant power source for the Data Center, with the ability to expand service offerings.

In the Event of an Emergency….

In late October [2012], Hurricane Sandy devastated portions of the Northeast and was one of the costliest hurricanes recorded, second only to Hurricane Katrina. When it reached Storrs, Connecticut, the University treated the hurricane as a serious event and anticipated the worst.

While the University wasn’t adversely affected by the storm, the tempest acted as a real eye-opener for ITS, as it prompted the need for an effective Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plan to ensure adequate levels of communication and data protection for the perceived disaster that was Hurricane Sandy.

In response to the hurricane and to improve disaster response efficacy, ITS is currently in the process of implementing a multi-phased project that will ensure the functioning of the University during times of crises. The project addresses all BC/DR activities such as prevention, protection, response, mitigation, and recovery.

In the event of a minor or catastrophic incident, the proposed project will ensure that all University-sanctioned avenues of communication, such as internet, University email, and the myUConn app will remain functional. The project also will address and support the University’s public safety directives and other protective services that cannot be allowed to fail in the event of a disaster or other unpredictable events. The project also addresses other issues, such as preventing the loss of irreplaceable data that is not backed-up offsite, which would lead to the loss millions of dollars in research and years of work.

Currently, 35 to 50 percent of all University computing, including critical administrative systems, is centralized in the Math Sciences Building Data Center at the Storrs campus, which is in dire need of remediation in order to bring the dated Data Center up to current IT standards (which is currently being addressed through the Data Center Rescue project). In its current state, the Data Center is prone to even minor disasters, and the BC/DR project aims to make suitable back-ups by installing a new, secondary Data Center at a still-to-be-decided location.

Additionally, the project also proposes to establish two active-active critical infrastructure protection sites, which will act as back-ups for critical key systems. One is already established inside the Chemistry building at the Storrs Campus, as it is on its own power grid, and the other is to be installed at the UConn Health Center (UCHC).

The BC/DR plan will be implemented in multiple stages. The first stage consisted of establishing a back-up system at the Chemistry Building. The second stage will consist of establishing a remote site at UCHC, and the third stage will consist of the final establishment of a secondary datacenter.

For any additional questions, please email Victor Font Jr., the ITS BC/DR Coordinator, at victor.font_jr@uconn.edu.

This article, by Tim Williams,  first appeared in the January 9, 2013 issue of Project Weeklies, the newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

 

The Mainframe Downsizing Initiative

ITS is in the planning stages of a project to downsize the UConn mainframe. The goal of the project will be to identify and remove application systems and software that have been, or are scheduled to be, re-hosted on other computing platforms. This process will put ITS in a position to “right-size” the mainframe platform for those workloads that still run there. The downsizing and migration effort could result in some valuable physical space savings in the MSB Data Center by eliminating some peripheral devices.

Mainframe technology has been in use at UConn for approximately 40 years with the latest incarnation of the hardware consisting of an IBM z10 BC processor that was installed three years ago.  The mainframe was once the platform used for all University computing, from class work to academics to administrative services. Everyone in the University community had an account on the mainframe system (similar to NetID today) and could access the resources.

As noted earlier, ITS has been migrating applications and products off the mainframe. One of the first migrations took place with the implementation of the PeopleSoft Student Administration System, (PeopleSoft SA). Recently the Financial Reporting System (FRS) was replaced by the Kuali Financial System (KFS).

Moving forward, ITS must identify all applications and software products that are used on the mainframe in order to remove or migrate them to alternate platforms or systems. ITS purchased a software monitoring tool, P-Tracker (http://ubs-hainer.com/db2-products/p-tracker), to aid in this process. It will provide statistics on MVS system usage such as:

  • Software products currently in use;
  • UConn written programs currently in use;
  • Who is still using the mainframe;
  • Frequency of product or application use;

Through the metrics provided by P-Tracker, ITS will have the ability to definitively identify all programs and applications that are executed on the University’s mainframe platform. This identification will allow ITS to define the migration actions that will be required to avoid any disruption to important University business processing.

The Technical Project Lead is Paul Desmarais and the Application Project Lead is Marie Dexter.

For further questions regarding the Mainframe Downsizing project, please contact the Project Manager, Diana O’Donnell (diana.odonnell@uconn.edu).

 

This article, by Tim Williams, first appeared in the February 6, 2013 issue of the Project Weeklies newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

The Fedora Repository — a New Service for the UConn Community

The University of Connecticut Libraries  (UCL) are building a preservation digital repository service for the UConn community. When the service is available in late-summer 2013, the UConn digital repository will offer long-term archiving and managed storage through its Data Management Services. David Lowe  (dave@uconn.edu) is the Data Management Services Librarian. More information on current data management services is available at: (http://classguides.lib.uconn.edu/content.php?pid=355458&sid=2906883).

Managed storage for faculty will be provided through a self-service management interface that provides tools for data management including:

  • metadata management
  • rules-based discovery and use either locally or externally
  • visualization
  • preservation services (e.g. fixity check, migration, redundancy, versioning)

Staff at the UCL will also work with faculty to develop plans and methods for managing, preserving, and visualizing other types of digital assets that do not fall so neatly into data management services.

The digital repository is being built on the open source Fedora Common  (http://fedora-commons.org) architecture, and uses a number of other open source tools, applications, and services.  Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) was originally developed at Cornell University and the University of Virginia in the late 1990s. Fedora application development is currently managed by Duraspace (http://duraspace.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving scientific and cultural heritage digital assets.

The Fedora repository architecture is currently in production in hundreds of academic, governmental, and cultural organizations around the world. There are more than 15 Fedora implementations in Northeast academic and research institutions, including Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library, Tufts University, and the University of New Hampshire.

This same Fedora infrastructure will also host the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA) at the University of Connecticut.  Funded in part by the Connecticut State Library, the CTDA will provide services to preserve and make available digital assets related to Connecticut and created by Connecticut-based libraries, archives, galleries and museums. Current project participants include in addition to UConn and the State Library, The Connecticut State Data Center, Mystic Seaport Museum, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the Hartford History Center

For more information on the digital repository contact Greg Colati (gregory.colati@uconn.edu) Sr. Director, Archives, Special Collections and Digital Curation.

 

This article, by Tim Williams, first appeared in the January 30, 2013 issue of the Project Weeklies newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

BMC’s Footprints Under Consideration

UConn’s current IT Service Management (ITSM) tool is CA-Unicenter Technology Support Center (USD) which is used by central IT and other IT departments for incidents, problems, request for ITS services, and change management.  However, USD is outdated and needs to be replaced with a tool that provides the functionality to meet today’s IT and business requirements.

As a result, ITS will be replacing USD with BMC FootPrints.  FootPrints is a viable option for the following reasons:

  • It meets all of the top requirements listed in the RFP process
  • It was one of the top contenders in the RFP process
  • The University is able to leverage the State Contract with BMC for better pricing and reduced procurement time
  • Potential to leverage our purchasing power with the UConn Health Center

In an effort to increase collaboration and efficiencies across the University in regards to the implementation of a University ITSM tool, representatives from the ITS Service Management team (Sherry Rodriguez, Jane Bachand and Andy DePalma) reached out to UCHC, Regional Campuses, AVTIL, Payroll, School of Engineering, SAIT and various other University departments, schools and colleges for feedback on assessing the value, identifying technical requirements and estimating the cost of implementing a Service Management tool for the University of Connecticut.  The Service Management Team also provided town hall meetings to demonstrate the features of FootPrints to the University community.

Based on the feedback received, the Service Management Team submitted a business case to University Governance, which was approved.  As the next step, a project definition document (PDD) providing requirements, milestones, cost estimates and other critical information was submitted to ITS Senior Leadership for approval to proceed.

For further information on this project, contact Sherry Rodriguez at sherry.rodriguez@uconn.edu.

 

This article, by Tim Williams, first appeared in the December 12, 2012 issue of the Project Weeklies newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.