Practice on Locating Research Applications or Equipment in Central Data Centers

Definition:

Terms used in this practice document are defined within the document: Data Center Application and Equipment Hosting Services pdf.

Policy Statement:

Researchers and research support groups may request that applications or equipment be hosted in a central data center to protect and sustain it in a controlled environment. Requests may be satisfied under the following circumstances:

  1. Adequate guest hosting resources are available to support the application from the common computing and storage platform.
  2. Adequate resources are available in a central data center for any required equipment.
  3. Allocation of resources is approved by the Office for Cyberinfrastructure.

Space, power and cooling are expensive resources required for computer equipment and they must be used efficiently. The priorities for use of these resources are for (1) shared online storage services, (2) shared computing services, (3) dedicated research equipment, and (4) dedicated administrative equipment.

Timing of Requests

If research equipment is to be acquired under a grant proposal, then a decision about central data center hosting should be reached before the grant application is submitted. If central data center hosting is denied, then the grant application must be amended to include construction and operational costs for renovating other space to accommodate the research equipment. A favorable decision to host equipment will require four to eight weeks for implementation due to necessary electrical distribution work and delivery of other equipment.

Renewal of Hosting Service

Approved hosting services remain committed for 24 months or for the requested duration, whichever is less. After this initial period, the Office for Cyberinfrastructure will review the application and equipment periodically because technology and research programs change rapidly. These reviews will be conducted similarly to the original application. If a review finds that an application or equipment can no longer be justified in the data center, then the owner will be notified to remove it within 30 days.

Process

The process for requesting hosting services is dependent upon whether the need is for a virtual or physical server.

Virtual Server Request Process:

  1. Requester submits a Request for Virtual Hosting Services to the Office for Cyberinfrastructure. This request describes the application and the equipment, its resource requirements, and the anticipated duration for the hosting.
  2. The Office for Cyberinfrastructure assesses the completeness of the request, compares the requirements to available resources and makes a decision. The requester is notified of the decision.
  3. If the request is approved, then the Office for Cyberinfrastructure begins project planning with the requester to implement the request.

Physical Server Request Process:

  1. Faculty requester completes a research physical server/equipment hosting request form (copy and paste e-mail template below), which describes the application, equipment, resource requirements, the research, and anticipated duration for the hosting.
  2. Faculty requester presents the request to the school dean for acknowledgement and signature. The faculty sends the signed request form to the Office for Cyberinfrastructure.
  3. The Office for Cyberinfrastructure assesses the completeness of the request, compares the requirements to available resources, and makes a decision. The requester is notified of the decision.
  4. If the request is approved, then the Office for Cyberinfrastructure begins project planning with the requester to carry out the installation of the application or equipment.

Request to Locate Research Physical Server/Equipment in a Central Data Center

Date: <Date>

To: hosting@ci.northwestern.edu

From: <Faculty requester>

Supported by Dean: <Dean>

Provide a brief description of the application – its structure, intended use, and potential number of simultaneous users. Describe the research to be supported (If possible, list any and all research grants by title and PI name indicating duration of funding. For pending proposals, list title, PI and award decision date).

Will this research involve collection or storage of sensitive information protected by law?  If so, describe the nature of the information, the applicable regulations, the steps being taken within the application to protect the information (e.g. encryption), and where the information will be stored.

Attach detailed vendor specifications, which must be sufficient to gauge required power, cooling, and rack space. Is this equipment experimental in nature?  Will frequent access to the equipment be required?  Are there any special requirements for this equipment or the research to be conducted?  This could include (but is not limited to) enhanced network connectivity.
Has the equipment been purchased? 

Has the equipment been delivered to a location on campus?  If so, where is it now?

Is the equipment already powered and in use within the University?  If so, where is it currently located?  Why are you requesting this equipment be moved to central data center space?

Requested location for hosting (NUIT will attempt to honor requests for placing equipment in specific locations; however, it may have to suggest an alternative site). Please rank these locations in order for hosting the equipment:

  • Chicago data center (Abbott Hall)
  • Evanston data center (2020 Ridge)
  • Technological Institute room LG87

Acknowledgement of policies
By submitting this request, you agree that you have read and understand the description of the hosting services, including NUIT’s rights and those aspects not included, which may be found in the document,  Data Center Application and Equipment Hosting Services pdf. You also understand that implementation of an approved request may require four to eight weeks of site preparation.


Original Issue Date:

April 2009

Revision Dates:

July 2010
February 2011