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University Makes Data Center Move

To increase its amount of stored data, the University of Texas (UT) at Arlington first had to move data centers.

UT Arlington researchers are part of the CERN-led Atlas particle physics experiment that will require a huge increase of storage capacity when it enters its next phase in 2007. While preparing for that, the university has also spent the past year on a multimillion dollar ERP project for a new student information system.

Those projects are paying off. Atlas brings contributing HPC labs millions of dollars in annual grants. And UTA's new Oracle PeopleSoft ERP system will go live Monday. But the Atlas and ERP implementation placed a heavy burden on the college's IT staff. Jon Harris, director of enterprise operations and systems, says the university's biggest problem wasn't storage capacity. It had run out of physical space for its data center.

In late 2004, UT Arlington maintained two on-campus data centers -- one for academic computing and one for business services. Neither facility had room to spare. The Atlas program will require a significant expansion in storage capacity from its current total of 70 Tbytes beginning next year. Harris says his EMC CX700 SAN has 170 processor nodes connected and will expand to 512 nodes. But there was one problem: "Literally, we could not put another piece of gear in those data centers," he says. "Without a new facility, we would not have had space for these projects."

That led to an ambitious data center consolidation. Because the 2005 move needed to be completed before student registration in late March, the university had six months to find a site and get about 650 servers, an IBM mainframe, a SAN, high performance computer (HPC) clusters, StorageTek tape libraries, and 16,000 tapes into it.

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