Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst of what winter has to offer here in Richmond. I for one am ready for Spring and the change that comes with it. There are a lot of technology projects in full swing and many changes ahead which I have mentioned in previous updates and about which I’ll continue to communicate. For February, following please find an update on a particularly exciting project as well as some other items of interest.
Upgrade of the University Computer Center
After a substantial delay, the upgrade of the University Computer Center (UCC) is finally underway. As a refresher, VCU’s primary data center is located in the state-owned Pocahontas Building, 900 E. Main St., in the downtown Capitol Square complex. The data center occupies 5,200 square feet of raised floor machine space, with over 600 pieces of computing/networking/data storage equipment on site with over 1 Petabyte of storage. The Poca data center also serves as a major networking junction for VCU’s private fiber network as well as for server and file serving traffic. Currently, the VCU data center must rely on the city water system for cooling and does not have a redundant electrical power source. The building’s Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is past end-of-life and does not support the machine room Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units.
On February 20, 2015, work was started on a multi-million dollar upgrade of all major cooling and electrical systems which includes removing and replacing all current electrical wiring, the existing UPS system, and (static) transfer switches; adding a 750 KvW diesel powered motor generator with tanks for 36 hours of full run time fueling; and replacing the CRAC units with a n+1 configuration, utilizing closed-loop glycol-based cooling. The work is expected to be completed prior to November 1, 2015.
By utilizing Automatic Transfer Switches (ATS) and Static Transfer Switches (STS) coupling the UPS and motor generator seamlessly with building power, electrical power for computing equipment and cooling equipment will always be available. By utilizing glycol-based cooling instead of water-based, with redundancy, computer room air conditioning will also always be available.
These infrastructure improvements will bring electrical power and machine room cooling to a fully redundant Tier 4 status, with the end result being a strong Tier 2 overall data center status. Most commercial data centers are a strong Tier 3. Having our critical services running in this kind of environment mitigates a substantial amount of risk as well as ensures the best uptime possible.
Gear Up to Work with Your Team During the September Bike Race with Google Hangouts
September is just around the corner but snow days are good Hangout days too. Take some time now to learn how your team can continue to collaborate while telecommuting using Google Hangouts. Hangouts is a fast easy way to stay connected, whether you’re in the same building or different cities, states or even countries. Please review these easy steps to Hangout anytime. Contact Doctor Gee, email@example.com, for further assistance.
Blackboard training available
Six Blackboard instructor-led online training opportunities have just been announced. All sessions will be taught by a Blackboard Training Consultant and will be recorded. Registration is now open. Please feel free to spread the news to your faculty and staff as there is limited availability. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
A quick note on communications from me
I continue to have the monthly “Lunch with Alex” meetings, and I have received a lot of valuable feedback from my colleagues. I have asked whether this blog is helpful and I have been told it is, so I am committed to keeping this up on a monthly basis. I have also been told that posting the Directors’ meeting notes is particularly useful to staff (and this was a suggestion from one of the monthly lunch meetings). One other thing people would like to hear is a timely update on staff changes within Technology Services. I will be working with my leadership team to make that happen. If there is any other feedback on internal or external communications, I would very much appreciate it.