09:46 AM

University’s partnership with state of Ohio saves millions in data center costs

The Ohio State University is saving time and money by partnering with the state to address a data center need, increasing security and reliability for campus technology users in time for the new academic year.

“This innovative partnership with the state allows Ohio State to save millions in construction and operational costs,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “It represents our deep commitment to greater efficiencies and doing everything we can to
hold down costs for our students and their families.”

IT experts at Gartner Inc., a Connecticut-based information technology research and advisory company, note that data center outsourcing has been on the rise over the past several years.

Ohio State is leveraging this trend to increase IT capacity requirements and to access new technologies. Last summer, Ohio State and the state of Ohio agreed on a partnership at the State of Ohio Computing Center (SOCC) facility, providing important operating revenues for the state and saving the university tens of millions of dollars in estimated construction costs.

“Traditionally we would have built the data center ourselves, but that’s no longer the most efficient solution,” said CIO Mike Hofherr. “We need to keep a tight control on our data, and this partnership allows us to do that. We are leasing space and infrastructure from the state, but have retained control over our platforms, architecture and security.”

The new, cost-effective partnership is one of many efforts to keep overhead low, which allows the university to ultimately improve access to higher education by keeping it affordable. Controlling costs is in keeping with Ohio State’s comprehensive freeze this academic year of in-state tuition, room and board charges, and undergraduate program, course and learning fees.

“Technology is a critical element of the campus experience, both in and outside of the classroom. It’s an area where we cannot compromise,” said Hofherr. “We need to keep growing and upgrading our technology, which means finding a smarter approach. We’re always looking for new ways to give students, faculty and staff access to better technology every year.”

Moving the data center to the SOCC is not only cost-effective, but also more expedient, enabling Ohio State to move in less than 12 months – a task completed just last month. By outsourcing instead of building, Ohio State not only saves in one-time construction costs of more than $40 million but also reduced ongoing operational costs by over $1 million.

“The university didn’t have the infrastructure to expand the data center in its current location and it didn’t have the space,” said Spencer Wood, COO/deputy state CIO for the state of Ohio. “The SOCC facility was an ideal site to allow Ohio State to expand and upgrade quickly and cost-effectively. Moreover, this partnership is well aligned with the state’s desire to work collaboratively, with the shared purpose of making our colleges more competitive.”

SOCC was designed to solve the major electrical, mechanical and security problems common to the operation of all large data centers. The facility also provides maximum security, climate control and fully redundant electrical and mechanical support systems. For example, it offers full uninterruptable power service (UPS) for all systems. This eliminates power inconsistencies and outages, which helps reduce hardware failures.

Ohio State’s SOCC move included 550 virtual machines and 350 physical machines supporting ERP, learning management, email and other critical systems; over a dozen colocation customers; and more than 550 terabytes of data. At the completion, Ohio State realized a 40 percent reduction in racks and more than a 50 percent reduction in sustainable costs, saving valuable resources for the university and the state of Ohio.