(Doug Dodson and Eric Ford, co-chairs)
Data Centers Working Group Accomplishments for Fall 2015:
- Educated the working group members on the status and features of the UP and Hershey Data Centers. The working group completed a tour of the University Park Data Center on Dec. 11.
- Representatives from the working group attended all four sessions of the “Data Centers Networking Community of Practice” group. We focused on ensuring that the interests of Research Computing (as opposed to enterprise systems) were well represented. As a result of our participation, several concerns about research computing were noted and discussed in the final meetings of this group.
- Developed a survey that was sent out to units involved in research at the University. The survey was designed to ascertain what issues would be of concern for researchers and IT groups if Penn State were to strongly encourage them to relocate equipment to one of a few large Data Centers. We found that the survey was also helpful in improving communications between to the Penn State Data Centers group and the faculty and IT groups they serve. For example, initial survey responses indicated many people were reluctant to relocate their equipment, often citing a lack of information and/or concerns about physical access.
- Brought in several researchers with specialized needs (e.g., cybersecurity research) who described their work and participated in discussions focused on how they could potentially interact with Penn State Data Centers in the near term and in the future.
- Began development of a workbook to help with future transition planning recommendations.
- Began discussions on assisting the Data Centers Management team with the creation of an SLA that will accommodate a broad spectrum of University customers – including Research.
Data Centers Working Group Accomplishments for Spring 2016:
- Data Centers Governance: We have been working primarily with Mark Saussure (Director, Penn State Data Centers and working group member) to identify critical processes and policies that require inputs from research:
- Submitted two infographics: one for potential use in communications concerning customer migrations and one for potential use in communications concerning the functions and offerings of the Penn State Data Centers.
- Submitted a detailed mind map contrasting the currently posted Penn State Data Centers migration information with that of a suggested migration process based upon what was implemented by the State of Washington. This highlighted many aspects of the migration that could benefit from more detailed planning.
- Met with Matt Decker (interim Vice Provost for IT) in early March to discuss the state of the overall Data Centers Project and to make sure he was aware of concerns from faculty and IT staff.
- Received a draft Data Centers Project Strategy document from Matt Decker and provided significant suggestions for improvements based upon input from Data Centers working group and EC members.
- Submitted initial feedback to the “Policy Implementation and Procedures Manual” posted to the http://dc.psu.edu web site. Based upon follow-up discussions, the group has agreed to work on a more heavily revised version of this document to submit as formal recommendations for policies and guidelines to be used by the Data Centers management team.
- Institute for CyberScience (ICS) – Advanced CyberInfrastructure (ACI)
- Worked with ICS-ACI IT professionals to ensure Data Centers group was aware of needs of research computing, particularly those of ICS-ACI.
- Provided suggestions for how to make the ICS Coordinating committee more effective, in conjunction with the HPC working group. Many of these suggestions have been adopted by the new interim ICS Director, Prof. Jenni Evans.
- Facilitated communications between data centers staff and the NNCISE group of faculty preparing to purchase their own cluster outside of ICS-ACI, so as to help them choose the best location for their cluster.
Data Centers Working Group Planned Work for Fall 2016/Spring 2017:
- Governance: The University Park Data Center should be fully ready for occupancy by the fall of 2016 and the Hershey Technology Center will have been in operation for almost six months. We anticipate continuing to make significant contributions to policies and processes, as well facilitating deployments and migrations for research-related groups. We hope to have established communications channels with critical staff involved in the Hershey Technology Center operations so that we can use their “lessons learned” in our continued efforts.
- Planning Data Center Buildout: We plan to evaluate current and projected power and cooling needs for ICS-ACI and research computing in general relative to the capacity of current data centers. We anticipate making a recommendation for when Penn State must begin the next phase of Data Center buildout to ensure Penn State will have adequate space, power and cooling to service the needs of research computing.
- Computer Room Consolidations: Once the new University Park Data Center is accepting migrations and we are confident that the Data Center has sufficient capacity for research groups beyond ICS-ACI, the Data Centers working group hopes to assist with planning to realize anticipated efficiencies of scale by decommissioning inefficient data centers and computer rooms across the University Park campus, while minimizing the disruption to research and additional burden on IT staff.
- Communications: The current state of CI/IT communications across research is an issue that has been raised repeatedly in both the Data Centers Working Group meetings and AC co-chairs meetings. Lack of communications about the Penn State Data Centers project was frequently mentioned in the feedback we received from the late 2015 DC WG survey. This working group will look for ways that it can contribute to both a discussion on this topic and the implementation of practical solutions. We suggest the RCCI AC and EC consider this to be one part of a broader challenge of improving research CI/IT communications.