by Peter Murphy
Published March 30, 2020
UBIT is partnering with the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering to ensure there is minimal disruption to technology services during construction of One World Café.
The UBIT team was concerned about whether vibration from the construction project would impact their servers. To find out, they started by asking the construction crews about the types of forces the servers might experience during the renovation.
“The crew told us that jack hammering will be the most violent force,” says John Ball, senior information technology architect with UB’s Enterprise Infrastructure Services.
Next they reached out to the earthquake engineering experts in the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL), located in Ketter Hall.
They explained the issue to Andreas Stavridis, who is an earthquake engineering expert and associate professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, and Mark Pitman, technical services manager of the lab.
The two agreed that this would be an excellent opportunity to use their specialized lab to determine what impact, if any, the construction vibrations might have on the servers.
“The shake tables in Ketter Hall are typically used to simulate a variety of earthquake vibrations, and test the seismic performance of a wide range of structural components,” says Pitman. “This project is within our capabilities and provided us with an opportunity to use our specialized equipment to benefit the campus.”
“In order to prepare for the test, we mounted a server in a test rack, similar to the racks we use in our data center,” said Larry Schnitzer, director of UBIT’s Enterprise Infrastructure Services. “The goal here is to, as closely as possible, make the test environment representative of the environment in the data center.”
"These tests will evaluate whether we have to take any measures to lower these vibrations [before One World Café construction begins],” explains Andreas Stavridis associate professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, and faculty lead for the server testing project.
The tests simulated vibrations and shocks from demolition work like jack hammering, by shaking the server on a vibrating platform at various frequencies and amplitudes. To do this, the equipment was subjected to three directions of motion simultaneously: side to side, front to back, and up and down.
“We reproduced a range of non-seismic motions so that we thought would best replicate the frequencies that would be potentially damaging to the server and its components,” Pitman says.
Ground motion data collected by Stavridis and his research group were used in the simulations. “The motions we used in these tests were recorded in the demolition phases of an actual building we tested in Utica, N.Y. in collaboration with the New York State Department of Transportation and the University of California, Los Angeles,” Stavridis says.
“Although it wasn’t possible to test every kind of server, we think the tests give a strong indication that physical vibration and shock is unlikely to be an issue,” says Schnitzer.