University of Hawaii Completes New $42M IT Center

The University of Hawaii’s new IT center is envisioned as a one-stop shop for all of UH’s technology needs — a state-of-the-art building that keeps data and virtual networks safe from the kind of emergency that nearly destroyed all of the university’s institutional information, as well as the state’s internet connectivity, back in 2004. 

A flood in Manoa that year forced water within yards of the university’s main data center, which was then located on the ground floor of a 50-year-old classroom building. The room’s vulnerability was enough to catch the state auditor’s attention in a 2005 review. 

The new six-story, 74,000-square-foot facility, which cost $41.7 million to build and is housed on the university’s flagship Manoa campus, was designed to bolster information services throughout the state and better protect critical information and communication tools for the entire UH system and its 10 campuses. 

Among the highlights is a disaster-hardened 8,000-square-foot data center that will contain all of the university’s mission-critical systems and networks, full battery and generator backup power and an emergency situation room replete with communications resources that UH administrators can use in times of disaster or crisis.

The university also hopes to install a “high-performance computing cluster” in the center that has the storage capacity to support big data applications. The cluster is aimed at providing cyberinfrastructure for massive datasets integral to new research efforts being supported by the university’s “Innovation Initiative”— a bold plan to double the amount of extramural research money coming into Hawaii to $1 billion annually. 

Meanwhile, the information technology operations center will monitor the university’s servers and networks at all hours of the day, serving as a front-line responder to tech issues.

The IT center, which was dedicated today and is slated to open to the public next February, is said to herald a new chapter of 21st-century learning at UH. For one, it’ll improve the reliability of the university’s servers, enhancing its online- and distance-learning opportunities for students on all islands, according to a press release. It’ll also include a digital media center, where faculty can create digital content for their classes, and high-tech teleconferencing and collaboration spaces.

The university is hoping to get the building a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) certification, too. According to the press release, the data center will allow UH to consolidate servers and hardware, freeing up space for other uses on campus.

See photos of the new IT center here

Photo: The new hardened, 8,000-square-foot, raised-floor data center. The energy-efficient area has water-cooled equipment racks and backup battery and generator power. (Courtesy of UH)

— Alia Wong

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