Medford Data Center Upgrade will Create Improved Service Delivery in a Greener Environment

Rebecca Dewey
Monday, April 1, 2013 - 12:30pm

Tufts serverSituated between Teele and Davis Squares on Holland Street in Somerville, the Tufts Administration Building (TAB) houses Tufts’ Medford data center, one of two university data centers that host the majority of Tufts’ technical services, including email, Trunk, the High Performance Computing Custer, and Tufts’ official website.  Although the Medford data center has served the university reasonably well since its creation in the 1980s, it became clear in recent years that it would no longer be able to meet Tufts’ growing needs. As a result, two years ago a study was conducted to see how the data center, located in a former middle school gymnasium, could be upgraded and reorganized to offer more space and structure to enable TTS to continue to expand technical services and support to the Tufts community.

In order to allow the Medford data center to meet Tufts needs, a plan was created that would lower the data center floor, replace the roof, remove most of the wooden structures, and reorganize the servers and racks housed there.  The project began early this winter and will be executed in two phases over 15 months. The center is currently in phase one of construction. The left side of the roof and floor are being replaced and metal support beams are being installed.

Efficiency is a key goal for the renovation. Theresa Regan, Director of Enterprise Infrastructure notes, “Things came into the data center organically over the years. One service would start up and then another. This renovation will allow us to organize things better, creating hot and cold isles and cabling everything more effectively.” The renovation will also bring more power, heating, and cooling to the data center to keep high-power services like the High Performance Research Cluster and network connectivity running correctly.

The data center project is also focused on staying green. Says Regan, “For a retrofitted data center, we are incredibly green. We’re very proud of the fact that we are even more efficient now than we were 10 years ago. During the project, we will be focusing on staying green by using the most efficient cabinets, network equipment, and power supplies available.” Over the course of the renovation, most services will also be virtualized, lowering their footprint in the data center and decreasing the amount of power they consume.”

A related goal is creating redundancy between Medford and Tufts’ other data center, located in Boston, which would allow services to run 24/7 with limited outages and down time. “We want to maintain all our services in 2 locations so that we can service the community better and more quickly. Redundancy means that if a service is down or under maintenance in one location, it can still be up and running in the other,” says Regan.  All of these changes will mean better service to the Tufts community.

By organizing the data center, Regan’s team will be able to get new services on-line faster. Virtualization and redundancy will make applications more available and the data center will be better prepared to integrate new services as needed. “The upgrade will really offer up a lot of possibilities for adding new services to the community,” says Regan.