By Sean O'Malley
Ohio University's Office of Information Technology is about to add a ton of disk space to its data center -- or three tons, to be exact. A recently delivered disk array is slightly larger than a refrigerator but weighs as much as a full-sized pickup truck. Filled to capacity, the unit could weigh in excess of 12,000 pounds.
OIT staff and engineers from EMC, the array's manufacturer, will bring the array online this weekend. Although the work will require several outages, including a three-hour window from 2 to 5 a.m. Saturday during which the university's front door will be unavailable, the long-term benefits far outweigh any short-term inconvenience, said Chief Information Officer Brice Bible.
According to Bible, the upgrade addresses the first of three key areas -- disk space, server consolidation and network capacity -- that must be improved before OIT can offer new technology services.
"We're building a three-pillared foundation that will support everything we do," Bible said, "and storage is the first pillar."
Robust, scalable storage will allow OIT to begin consolidating servers, both within the university's data center and across campuses. In doing so, support staff will be able to spend less time performing routine maintenance and more time developing new applications and services.
Also, because space on the new array will be affordable, easily expandable and widely compatible, offices and departments that currently provide their own shared storage will be able to take advantage of OIT's economy of scale to host their data inexpensively and reliably.
OIT plans to use some of the added capacity to boost e-mail and network storage quotas for faculty, staff and students. Faculty and staff now have 200 megabytes available for e-mail and 500MB for network storage, while students have 100MB and 200MB, respectively. OIT Systems and Operations Director Marty Barnes said the exact amount of the quota increase has yet to be determined, but it will be significant.