Data Center migrations help free up resources, improve security, monitoring

Travis Johnson
image of penn state mark on the wall of the data center

Academic units can save cost, space and maximize in-house talent by migrating IT infrastructure to Data Center

June 21, 2018

When Veronica Longenecker arrived at Penn State in 2015, the information technology director for the College of the Liberal Arts took time to evaluate the college’s IT infrastructure inside the Moore Building and found everything was up to par.

She wondered though, how long would that be the case?

“We were fortunate that the building wasn’t having any problems,” Longenecker said. “But I also knew that we were going to start having some infrastructure and environmental issues, things that we were going to have to address eventually.”

Just across campus, the new Data Center – packed with state-of-the-art power, cooling, monitoring and security systems – offered the perfect solution. So Longenecker and her staff decided to take advantage of everything the sparkling, 49,500-square-foot facility and its team of experts could provide: 24/7 monitoring, virtualization and cloud services, and increased security with guard details, cameras and card-swipe access.

Now, six months after the decommissioning of the IT infrastructure within the Moore Building, and with many of its systems virtualized through the Enterprise IT VM Hosting Services infrastructure or physically moved to the Data Center location, Longenecker is seeing the benefits of the migration.

“There are wins for Penn State as far as getting everything situated from a security standpoint and having everything in the proper environment,” Longenecker said. “There are wins for colleges and units because then the staffs can focus on their specific needs without worrying about the day-to-day operations and environmental controls.”

Overall, there are about 79 other server rooms used to house IT infrastructure across the University. As units migrate to the centralized Data Center, that will net about 30,000 square feet that can be repurposed.

In Liberal Arts, for example, the 600-square-foot space in the Moore Building is being renovated and is expected to open as additional lab space for students in the fall.

“Unfortunately, all of these independent locations are really inefficient for the University,” said Bill Wrobleski, senior director of infrastructure for Penn State IT. “As units move their systems into the University-provided data center, they will benefit from improved security and monitoring, and at the same time, save money on power and space.”

Longenecker and her staff planned the Liberal Arts migration in detail, bringing together teams from the Data Center and the college to collaborate on and streamline the move. As a result, a number of the college’s systems were virtualized. That made the physical move itself easier as hardware that previously required six racks was simplified to one and a half in the new Data Center.

Cheryl Seybold, IT director for Data Center Services for Enterprise IT, helped coordinate the Liberal Arts migration and is looking forward to working with other units as they move into the Data Center.

“We can free up local resources for units so they can support faculty as they’re trying to get their research done and provide more focus for students,” Seybold said. “This is why the University invested in building the data centers.”