As part of the supaTsela ICT renewal project, UCT has spent more than R3.5-million setting up two new data centres.
These data centres - part of the new infrastructure design - will house UCT's critical ICT systems and services. As well as new computer equipment, the data centres will include generators, sophisticated air-conditioning, fire-suppression systems and automated monitoring, all in a state-of-the-art infrastructure.
UCT's computer rooms
Previously, UCT did not have data centres, but rather had two computer rooms - located in the Computer Science and Bremner buildings.
The Computer Science computer room was built in 1972 to house mainframe equipment. Over the years, considerable effort was put into maintaining and upgrading the facility, but by 2003, Information & Communication Technology Services (ICTS) recognised that the computer room had reached the end of its useful life.
Problems included outdated and failing air-conditioning systems, faulty alarms, an ageing fire-prevention system using poisonous CO2 gas, lack of under-floor airflow that gave rise to temperature variations, no standby generators and an old-fashioned uninterrupted power supply (UPS), undocumented electrical reticulation, and no cable management.
UCT's new data centres
In UCT's vision for future ICT services, modern and high-tech data centres play a critical role. With the introduction of up-to-date data centres, services will be housed in suitably secured, controlled physical environments that will enable improved availability and recoverability.
According to AndrÃ© le Roux, who is managing the data centre project: "The vision behind the new data centres encompasses three main aspects: an improved physical environment, which meets industry standards and requirements; management of the physical environment; and automated monitoring systems."
Some of the improvements that may be of interest, are:
Moving to the new data centres
For the past year, ICTS and Properties & Services have been renewing the data centres. The Bremner Data Centre started hosting some ICT services in February 2006, while the Upper Campus Data Centre was completed in March 2006. A new fibre-optic cable connects the two sites.
However, most production equipment is still located in the old computer rooms, and needs to be moved to the new facilities. This will cause some disruption to ICT services.
To minimise the impact of any downtime required, the process of moving from the old computer rooms to the new data centres will be done outside of working hours.
The new state-of-the-art data centres go a long way towards providing a platform from which UCT's ICT capabilities can grow to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
For more information on the ICT renewal project, go to www.supatsela.uct.ac.za.
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