New UH IT Center Critical To Statewide Higher Education ServicesUniversity of Hawaiʻi
Director of Communications & Outreach, Hawaii Innovation Initiative
HONOLULU – The University of Hawai‘iʻs new energy-efficient, state-of-the-art IT Center was dedicated today at the UH Mānoa campus. The six-story, 74,000-square-foot facility will support essential statewide information services and the protection of critical information and communication resources for the entire UH system. Almost an entire floor of the building is dedicated to a disaster hardened 8,000-square-foot data center.
“It has taken many years to get to this day and I want to thank all of those involved in making the new UH IT Center a reality including many former and current legislators, UH regents, and senior UH executives who have supported the project during their watch” said Interim President David Lassner, the former Vice President for IT and Chief Information Officer. “The flood of 2004 demonstrated the high level of enterprise risk faced by housing IT resources on the ground floor of a 50-year-old classroom building.”
During the 2004 Manoa flood, water approached within yards of the main data center and threatened all UH institutional information and communication services as well as Internet connectivity for the University and State of Hawai‘i. The State Auditor noted this vulnerability with concern in a 2005 review. Lassner noted, “This IT Center is a vital investment in the current stability and technological future of the University and the State of Hawai‘i.”
With the completion of the IT Center, mission critical systems and networks will be housed in a new 8,000- square-foot, energy-efficient data center, with full battery and generator backup power. The center also features UH’s first system Emergency Situation Room, providing work and collaboration space with highly available power and communications suitable for UH administrators to manage through disasters and other crisis situations. The Information Technology Operations Center (ITOC) will provide continuous proactive 24/7 monitoring of the University’s enterprise servers and networks and serve as the front-line to respond to problems and incidents that might impact a broad suite of applications and services that are relied on by UH and its partners.
As UH works to advance the educational capacity of the State through the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative (HGI), the new IT Center will support 21st-century education initiatives for the UH System in several important ways. Providing improved reliability for the UH network and servers that support online learning initiatives will enhance UH’s statewide distance and online learning for students on all islands. The facility will also include new training facilities and the Digital Media Center, where faculty will be able to receive assistance in developing engaging digital content. New recording facilities will be available where faculty can create content for “flipped classrooms” and online or distance learning. The lobby also includes a service area where Help Desk personnel can assist students, faculty, and staff with their technology problems.
Plans are underway to install a new High-Performance Computing Cluster in the data center along with storage capacity to support “big data” applications. As UH works with partners in the public and private sector to develop research as a third leg of Hawaii’s economy through the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative (HI2), it will be essential to provide cyberinfrastructure for the fast-growing areas of scholarship that involve the gathering, storage, analysis, and visualization of massive datasets. These range from astronomy and oceanography to health care, medicine, cancer research, and the social sciences.
Advanced teleconferencing and collaboration environments will be available for members of the UH community to work with colleagues and peers statewide and around the world. These will include high-definition and ultra-high-definition (4K) video capability to support scientific and educational visualizations and insights.
The IT Center also builds on UH’s sustainability initiatives. Even with the inclusion of the enterprise data center, the building is expected to receive LEED Silver certification. The completion of the energy efficient data center, planned to support decades of growth, will enable new colocation services and hosting of virtual servers for UH programs. Consolidation of servers and associated hardware from multiple energy inefficient locations throughout UH will free up space, save on energy costs, improve security and enhance operational efficiencies.
The IT Center will also bring together the UH Information Technology Services (ITS) staff for the first time since ITS was created in 1994. Different parts of ITS have been spread across as many as eight different buildings on the Manoa campus. Open concept seating and ample collaboration spaces will help ITS work more effectively to support the ever-increasing needs of the UH community for technology support. Relocating ITS staff into the new building will free up space for other uses and needed renovations in multiple locations on the Mānoa campus.
The groundbreaking for the project was held in February 2012 and the building was completed within its $41.7-million construction budget. Construction was financed with a mix of State of Hawai‘i general obligation (GO) bonds and University of Hawai‘i revenue bonds. Building partners included Ferraro Choi and Associates as project architect, dck pacific construction as general contractor, and Bowers + Kubota Consulting as construction manager.
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I
The University of Hawai‘i (UH) was established in 1907 and its campuses are all fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The UH System now comprises all public higher education in the State and provides a rich array of associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degrees and certificates to about 60,000 students through seven community colleges, two baccalaureate campuses and a major research university that holds land-, space- and sea-grant designations. For more information, visit www.hawaii.edu.
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