Clemson IT team embraces call to be entrepreneurial

By John Dix, Network World |  Data Center, high performance computing, HPC

Cannon says Hitachi storage systems are becoming the basic infrastructure the school is using on the enterprise side for both directly attached and VM cloud-type environments.

Mission critical resources are supported by Hitachi HDS AMS-2100 series arrays, Cannon says. "Prior to that we were using a product from another vendor that required considerable time to figure out how to properly lay out the array and segment sizes. And once we delivered that to the application, if we found out we made a mistake it was real complicated to go back and retrofit another array and move the data. Now we use Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning. Hitachi configures those for us when they deliver the array and if we need more I/O, we can much more easily add spindles. We weren't able to do that with our former vendor."

Long term, does the enterprise side of the house end up as one big Joni Mitchell cloud? "I think you'd have to end up there," Wilson says. "There will be pockets that aren't, but as you abstract your computing layer from the personas that run on it you can dynamically allocate hardware for various things. It gives you that flexibility. Virtualization is just a component of this."

Changing finance mix

One of the ways that Bottum and his team are funding all of these initiatives is through grants. Five years ago "the grant money didn't really exist," Bottum says. "And we're running about $5.5 million this year."

The majority of the grants are for specific faculty. Wilson and Ligon, for example, have grants for parallel virtual file system work. "It's usually almost a 50-50 split between what goes to the faculty and their departments and what goes into IT's account, so it's a nice healthy IT/faculty partnership," Bottum says.

The goal, of course, is to cover as many costs as possible. "Recognizing that Clemson is a public institution and the future of state funding is not clear, we are encouraged to become entrepreneurial. So the goal is to bring in funding in a way that doesn't detract from what we are doing for Clemson."

But there is only so far that you can take this model, Bottum says. "We're at a point now where I don't think any of this happens without a public/private partnership, where we really poke holes in our respective walls and reach inside the other one and start to maximize ways we collaborate. The private schools had to re-engineer themselves in the '90s and into the 2000s, and now it is the public schools' turn. I think the future is figuring out how we fill the gaps, how we take advantage of some of the opportunities."

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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