Green Data Center

In the fall of 2010, Syracuse University completed construction of the Syracuse University Green Data Center (GDC).   Roughly half of the space in the GDC is hosted space designed to provide a secure physical environment that is flexible enough to allow access to the equipment by researchers and graduate assistants.

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In partnership with IBM and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), 6,000 square feet of datacenter space was added that is powered by a unique tri-generation power plant which utilizes water chilled racks to increase power and cooling efficiencies. On site natural gas micro-turbines provide 650 kilowatts of power and their waste heat is used by two Thermax Absorption Chillers to provide equipment and building cooling. The GDC cooling capacity is approximately three times that needed by the data center; excess chilled water is used to provide air conditioning for adjacent campus buildings. Lead-acid batteries provide 17 minutes of emergency backup power (at full capacity) in the unlikely event that the turbines and the utility grid simultaneously fail. To help further research on green data center practices the GDC has been instrumented with hundreds of sensors.

It is now also the main center for production computing resources, marrying research and administrative computing interests.

The internal GDC network is 10 Gigabit with redundant connections to all hosts and network components whenever possible. The GDC supports a robust virtual private cloud in which 95% of campus servers have been consolidated.   This includes servers (both research and operational) on campus that were housed in poor environmental conditions within distributed locations.Syracuse University Campus Cyberinfrastructure Plan
Exterior photo of GDC

Syracuse University Green Data Center

The GDC is connected to the campus network and the original data center via two bundles of geographically diverse, 144 strand fiber paths. This can be and has been used to provide direct connectivity between a researcher’s campus building and the hosted area in the GDC.

Green Data Center Hosting for Researchers

Roughly half of the space in the GDC is hosted space designed to provide a secure physical environment that is flexible enough to allow access to the equipment by researchers and graduate assistants. The hosted area is caged, and provides a separate entrance that allows access through a combination of ID cards, biometric finger prints, and PIN numbers. Over half of the computing load in the GDC serves research computing needs. Researchers on campus are able to rely on having space in the datacenter that is very low cost and provides ideal environmental conditions for their equipment with power redundancy from the multiple layers of protection including the traditional electric grid, natural gas fired turbines (with on-site propane gas storage), and UPS. Work continues to encourage researchers who host equipment under less than optimal conditions in their departmental buildings to migrate their approved equipment into the GDC.

Disaster Recovery (DR)

Machinery Hall (MH), the older data center utilized prior to the construction of the GDC, has been repurposed into a DR site. Backup computing and storage capacity purposed for use in case of a disaster is currently available at the MH location. Anticipating that this computing capacity will typically be sitting idle, it is leveraged via a private virtual cloud for research computing. Researchers are able to use this capacity free of charge for their academic work.