Server Co-Location and Virtualization Task Force

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Team ID: 
College / Administrative Unit: 
Information Technology Services (ITS)
Date Started: 
February 2012
This is one of 7 Information Technology Leadership Council (ITLC) task forces.

Taken from Server Co-Location & Virtualization Task Force Final Report Business Need and Benefits to Users

Penn State has a very decentralized computing infrastructure with over 130 server rooms and a few facilities that could be classified as data centers. The majority of server rooms were originally office or storage space with cooling and power enhancements to meet the basic requirements to run servers. Very few of the server rooms have backup power source or cooling. Also, the majority of servers in the server rooms are not replicated to other locations for disaster recovery/business continuity.

In recent years Penn State has engaged in several efforts to evaluate existing data center and server room facilities with the objective of creating a plan for future management of these resources. The most comprehensive evaluation came from a study completed in 2008 by the Hewlett-Packard Company. After extensive data collection and analysis HP suggested Penn State seriously consider all of the recommendations in the report which they summarized in the following themes.

Enhanced PSU Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity -
Without a Disaster Recovery Data Center, Penn State puts itself at great risk in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Stakeholders from almost all groups interviewed recognized lack of disaster recovery as an existing risk and expressed a strong desire to utilize a centralized disaster recovery site geographically remote to the PSU University Park campus.

Consolidated and/or Optimized Business and Academic Data Center -
Future growth trends strongly indicate that continuing to implement server rooms on an ad hoc basis is very problematic at best and not sustainable at worst. Consolidating existing data centers will enable the University to implement practices which will allow for maximum utilization of computing cycles and power consumption.

Stand alone High Performance Computing Data Center -
There will be a significant challenge to meet even short term growth (1-3 years) of HPC systems within the current data center infrastructure. This includes the upgraded capabilities for the current Computer Building. Removing HPC systems from existing PSU data centers will help extend the life of existing data centers while solutions for consolidation of existing data centers are being implemented.

Reduction of Existing Risk -
Implement a Data Center Strategy
Consolidate host servers, Design and build consolidated virtual infrastructure, Standardize OS
Expand virtualization, Validate ITIL-based processes for the consolidated virtual infrastructure

HP Report

While Penn State has not implemented a comprehensive data center master plan, data center facilities have been improved and the ITS VM Hosting service has continued to evolve. There have also been discussions about building disaster recovery and HPC data centers. The following Sever Virtualization and Co-Location Task Force report recommends a process for developing a time-phased plan for evolving the existing VM Hosting and Server Co-Location services. A key component of the plan is the gathering of information from the Penn State IT community to assess the needs of the community. These data would allow service providers to develop plans for increasing capacity and adding service features over time resulting in services that meet most (non-HPC) computing needs.

Additional information on this task force is available via the ITLC wiki at:

Please contact the team co-chairs with specific questions regarding this task force.
Contact Person: 
Krystal McMillen
  • David Gindhart, Co-Chair
  • Vince Timbers, Co-Chair
  • Shawn Alexander, Member
  • Keith Barry, Member
  • David Cochrane, Member
  • Sean Costella, Member
  • Beth Davis, Member
  • Fred Fenstermaker, Member
  • Joshua Fritsch, Member
  • Ted Froats, Member
  • Tim Grattan, Member
  • Greg Halpin, Member
  • Deborah Howard, Member
  • Shannon Johnson, Member
  • Neil Kelley, Member
  • John Matty, Member
  • Rich Rhoades, Member
  • Derek Ross, Member
  • Mark Saussure, Member
  • Matthew Scott, Member
  • Jim Serafin, Member
  • Edward Smiley, Member
  • David Stucky, Member
  • Mike Voltz, Member