Published April 17, 2012
UB has a long and proud history of leadership in environmental stewardship. Research in alternative energy sources, environmental engineering and solar energy are good examples, but also included is the application of green technologies and practices to information technology.
For example, the UB 2020 IT Strategic Transformation, which
continues today, has paved the way for green IT practices
throughout the university. Examples are server virtualization,
cloud computing and virtual computing which allows students,
faculty and staff to access applications directly on their laptop
or home computer without the need for dedicated computing
Given the ever-increasing role that information technology plays
in education and research, it is not surprising that applying green
IT to improve data center operational efficiency has become a major
focus for many organizations, including universities.
Unfortunately, many existing data centers, including those at UB,
were built when energy efficiency was not as important a driver in
data center design as it is today, and therefore in most cases they
are not operating as efficiently as their more modern counterparts.
Making matters worse is the fact that demand for computing and
storage capacity is steadily growing, and institutions such as UB
are in the unenviable position of looking for ways to reduce their
environmental footprint and operational costs while also expanding
It was with the competing goals of reducing our environmental footprint and expanding compute capacity that the Center for Computational Research launched a series of green IT projects a little over 2 years ago. With funding from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) S10 equipment grant, I am happy to report that we were able to achieve a remarkable seven-fold increase in CCR's research computing capacity while simultaneously decreasing the data center's total energy consumption by 20%. Impressively, as of January 2012, these strategies have saved the university more than $278,000 in electrical costs and resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gases of more than 550 metric tons. Results of this project can be found at the link http://nyserda.ccr.buffalo.edu, which includes "Cost Savings" and "CO Savings" odometers that present up to the minute summaries. The technologies and strategies utilized here are readily transferable to other existing data centers, and indeed are being deployed in the recently relocated CIT data center.
Of course, green IT is not the only thing that has occupied CIT and the Nodes over the past several months. As the newsletter shows, we have been quite busy working on new and updated technologies aimed at providing improved and expanded services to our students, faculty and staff, including an innovative new learning environment in the School of Management, new self-help course capture technology in the School of Social Work, and a much needed refresh of CIT's UBUnix timeshare environment (which was UB's "cloud computing" solution long ago, when clouds referred only to things found in the sky).
I hope you find the information in this newsletter useful. As always, we look forward to comments and suggestions for future topics as well as feedback on IT services and initiatives in general. You can find previous issues of the newsletter on our Web site: http://www.cio.buffalo.edu