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DATACENTER » Success Stories

Success Stories

Posted on 04/07/2014

With programs ranging from Advertising to Agricultural Communications to Journalism to Media & Cinema Studies, the College of Media at the University of Illinois is a world leader in educating the communicators of the future. To that effort, College of Media faculty and staff are constantly looking for the latest technologies to improve classroom instruction and research. This in turn creates a considerable need for IT services in the College.

While they had previously managed their own local data centers as a service, the College of Media’s partnership with Data Center Shared Services yielded both immediate and long term benefits for the College, while continuing to meet the immediate IT needs of the College's faculty, students and staff.

Immediately, the College of Media noticed the benefit of being able to repurpose the space that was being taken up by their servers. The College’s former server room was turned into an office. "I think recovering that space for other uses is a big deal,” Bohlmann said. "The campus has made an investment to the university in the space that is available.”

The next spring, the College of Media’s affiliate group, Illinois Public Media, became interested in moving to the DCSS. For Illinois Public Media, the goal of freeing space in their data center was immediately important.

“We have our data center for all the video, audio and stuff we do, but at the time, that had all the servers that were used for IT purposes too,” said Taylor Judd, Illinois Public Media’s system administrator, said. “When Mike informed us of the Data Center Shared Services we started looking at moving our stuff into that facility because it is one less thing to have in the area."

Illinois Public Media eventually moved some of their servers to DCSS while keeping several other broadcast-related devices in place that need direct connections to transmitters. Illinois Public Media found that moving servers to DCSS reduced the amount of resources needed to keep their data center running.

“Our broadcasting room is kind of maxed out for cooling at the moment,” Judd said. “Being able to remove the IT equipment allowed me to free up not just space but the cooling and electronic management in those rooms."

Judd has also been appreciative of the reduction of work needed to maintain the servers after moving to DCSS.

"The fact that [DCSS] provide power and networking and I don't have to worry about that is an incredibly high bonus. I don't have to worry about top of row switching. I don't have to worry about PDUs. I don't have to worry about any of that stuff,” Judd said. "That is probably the greatest advantage to DCSS."

Much of the reduction of local workloads comes from the service management that DCSS centrally provides its customers.

“There are fewer services that you have to manage, whether its networking, power, cooling. I don't have to do extra switching or firewalls or things of that nature because its managed by DCSS,” Judd said. "If I need extra ports they are generally made available to me without anyone blinking an eye which is extremely nice.”

In addition to the immediate benefits from the move to DCSS, Bohmlmann feels that working with DCSS will help the College of Media and the University of Illinois campus in the years to come.

"There are benefits long term to take advantage of,” Bohlmann said. “You can either be out doing things on your own or you can be part of the community. I think this is an important part of being a member of the community.

We were looking at cost savings measures and found that 1) we were dedicating a large office space to servers, really quite a bit more than they needed, but we didn't have a good space that was smaller to move them into and 2) we were considering sharing office space with another group to share our rent costs and they would need office space. From a space utilization and cost savings standpoint it made a lot of sense to move our physical equipment to the DCL Shared data center than to continue to keep it or to try and remodel our space to accommodate our needs. Additionally, we're in a leased building with a 100 Mbps connection to the outside world / campus so we gained better networking for our server infrastructure at no cost as well as redundant power, better cooling and better monitoring.

The actual experience itself was extremely straight forward and consisted of an initial meeting with Data Center Shared Services group to discuss what equipment we had, our networking/power requirements.

We had a few rounds of follow up emails to answer a few questions that we could answer at the meeting and after that everything was set. DCSS came out to our site before hours one more to help move the physical equipment and were extremely helpful (they brought their van to help transport the equipment and helped un-cable it from the rack it was currently housed in once it was powered down).

We were back and running within an hour of their departure from our site and it was essentially transparent to my end users.

As far as working with the data center group on an ongoing basis, I'm able to do almost all my work remotely via SSH/remote desktop which is how I was operating in my building so really there's no change in that respect. Once in a great while I'll need to swap a tape in our library or put a physical DVD in a drive but it's really no trouble at all to drive over to campus and stop in the ops center to gain access for what I need to do. The staff there have been nothing but friendly and helpful, for instance they've been very helpful and loaned me screw drivers when I forgot my set.

Overall, it's been nothing but a positive experience and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) is a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago. CIC members collaborate to expand research, save money, and increase opportunities for students, faculty, and staff.

For 8 years, the CIC servers were housed in our off-campus office in a closet. The server "room" was not well suited for technical equipment – the temperature was always at least 85 degrees, and because of the heat, the door could not be closed to muffle the typical noise generated by the servers. This room also faced an office and that "lucky" person would often have to close her door due to the noise and the heat. In addition to this set-up, we also had some power outages in recent years that lasted for more than an hour, taking down the collaboration services we offer to our members.

We saw the opportunity to move to the Datacenter and quickly started the process. We saw many advantages to the Datacenter, including 24 hour security and monitoring, direct connection to the campus network, and a much cooler environment for the servers. The migration process was pretty easy with a couple of meetings with the DCSS personnel and Technology Services at Illinois along with a nice checklist to follow. On the day of the move, the Datacenter staff helped us get back up and running in just a few hours. It was amazing to walk back into that part of the office where the servers once were and hear....nothing.

We have since reclaimed that space where the servers were, the office across the hall will now be much more useable, and the power feed to the servers more reliable. We will also be lowering our cooling costs and power consumption. The servers are now running more than 20 degrees cooler, which will extend their life. Would I do this move again? Definitely! It is a no brainer!

For more information, please contact me Timothy Newcomb.