NC State expands data center environment

Making improvements. Jeremy Meeler of OIT Shared Services inspects a server blade in Data Center 2.

In August 2020, NC State will complete its migration to a new modern data center environment to host its critical IT services and meet its future spacing, cooling and power needs.  

Two years ago, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) decided to retire the university’s aging Data Center 1 (DC1) and lease data facilities in the North Carolina Department of Information Technology Eastern Data Center (EDC).

This partnership enables the university to save significantly on costs, while keeping options open for cost-effective cloud technologies. NC State is the first institution of higher education to host data services at EDC, which serves a number of state agencies.

New infrastructures

In preparation for the move, OIT built a new network and a hyper-converged infrastructure in EDC to support deployment and production of virtual machines (VMs) as well as physical devices, including servers, fiber switches and network switches. Work on the new infrastructures was completed in January.

“The OIT Engineering & Construction, Network, and Platform teams collaborated on a state-of-the-art environment at EDC that not only improved the performance of the hosted systems, but also made the migrations nearly transparent with no need to re-IP systems or change the way administrators accessed and managed them,” says Dan Grigg, project manager.

Virtual Move

According to Grigg, once the new infrastructures were in place and tested in January, the team was able to relocate the more than 800 hosted virtual machines (VMs) from DC1 to EDC in approximately four months.

OIT’s partnership with key IT campus stakeholders was key to the successful migration of the VMs to the EDC, he said.

The OIT Network and Platform teams designed and implemented a special environment that was isolated from the normal production environment. It allowed VMs to be moved at the convenience of the application owner without impacting operations. 

IT campus partners aggressively coordinated and implemented their VM move schedules; in parallel, there was a huge effort by the OIT Hosted Services, Central Services Integration, Application Infrastructure Services, Windows Services, Identity & Web Services, and Information Security Services teams to collectively move the vast majority of the hosted VMs. 

Physical Move

Grigg said the final effort is to relocate the remaining physical devices from DC1 to EDC. This work is expected to be finished in August and will complete the DC1 relocation to the EDC.

“The most challenging part of this effort has been identifying ownership and planning disposition and timing for the more than 450 physical devices located in DC1,” Grigg said. “Thanks to the dedicated IT professionals across the campus, all of that is completed and now it is just a matter of executing the plans.”