28. Supporting Shared Services - the University Shared Data Centre

Photo of cables

On a bright January afternoon members of the Estates Directorate met with OUCS to pass over the keys to the University's new data centre. The University Shared Data Centre (USDC) is a shared facility managed by OUCS and available for use by the colleges and departments within the University. The new data centre provides resilience for the University’s business-critical IT services and meets international standards in sustainability and efficiency. It is housed within the Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute on South Parks Road and will be fully operational in August 2011.

The data centre has been designed to meet the latest environmental and business priorities of the University. In the past business-critical IT equipment has been housed across the University, often in small spaces which were not originally designed to house servers and equipment. The University’s colleges and departments now have a dedicated Shared Data Centre designed to be resilient, efficient and secure. The data centre also utilises extensive power and cooling systems which were designed to recycle cool air and minimise energy use. "The aim", says David Birds, Manager of the Shared Data Centre, "is to lower our total energy consumption"”.

In the run up to the August opening, OUCS are busy defining the suite of shared infrastructure services which will be available within the data centre. Taking a holistic approach to the infrastructure, OUCS are considering all aspects from physical co-location in a shared space to private cloud computing and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). “We aim to offer the benefits of a centralised infrastructure whilst recognising the context of Oxford University’s federated IT structure” explains Peter Jones, OUCS’s newly appointed Shared Infrastructure Services (SIS) Manager.

Shared services, such as the new University Shared Data Centre and the infrastructure services founded upon it, are greatly encouraged by higher education bodies and the UK government today. Shared services can generate efficiencies and ultimately a 20% reduction in costs (CBI, Time for action, Reforming public services and balancing the budget, May 2010). OUCS is keen to support the University in using shared services to achieve such savings in the future.

In order to understand the collegiate University's requirements in relation to data storage and virtualisation services, OUCS are undertaking a programme to investigate these requirements with the University's IT support staff (ITSS). As the first step in this programme, ITSS were recently invited to an open afternoon at the new data centre to discuss how the new facility can be best used.

If you are interested in the USDC and its services please contact us at: USDC@oucs.ox.ac.uk.

We are happy to discuss your data centre needs and will endeavour to keep you informed of the USDC and the surrounding services. Further information on the shared infrastructure services (SIS) and the University Shared Data Centre (USDC) is available.

Data centres provide a secure and stable environment for large scale computing systems. The environment within a data centre is often controlled with air cooling as the systems can generate significant quantities of heat. Data centres are also supplied with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to ensure a continuous service and to keep the equipment operating at an optimum level.

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