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October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

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07/31/2009 - Collaboration Creates Riverpoint Datacenter

The new Riverpoint Campus Datacenter is a stellar example of organizations -- Greater Spokane Incorporated, the University District, Institutions of Higher Education, Sirti, and research entities -- all coming together to create an education and research facility that would otherwise not exist. The nearly finished Datacenter is state-of-the-art and capable of transmitting more than 10 gigabits per second of information for research specific traffic. The Datacenter is used as the information technology hub for the entire Riverpoint Campus, and for research purposes, according to Larry Hoffman, Director of Information Technology, Operations and Enterprise Services, Washington State University Spokane (WSU Spokane).

The Datacenter consists of four contiguous zones. They are: the power room, the core closet, the co-location pod, and the administration suite. Security is tight with the rooms having video surveillance and electronic key access. The power room has 1200 amps of available power '800 amps for the equipment, and 400 amps for the 60 (eventually 120) tons of cooling. The UPS (uninterruptable power supply) has a current capacity of 275 KVA (kilo volt-ampere, the apparent power that a UPS is capable of producing.) There are plans to double this in the future, once additional funding is identified, to complete the final two phases of the four phase project. The system switches over to battery backup in case of power failure and an aut omatic transfer switch to a failover generator is planned.

The core closet contains the "brains" and the connectivity in and out of the campus. The Metro Ethernet connection to the Pacific Northwest Gigapop resides here. The network management for the 10 gigabit pipe connecting WSU Spokane and WSU Pullman is in the core closet. WSU hosts an enterprise Polycom video bridge within the closet. In addition, the core closet equipment manages the entire Riverpoint Campus network. All of the Riverpoint Campus is now connected at 20Gb speeds over redundant fiber optic links 'from the Sirti Building to the Health Sciences Building; from the Nursing Building to the Sirti Technology Center; and even to the newly developing Veterinary Medical Clinic. The Information Technology for all campus buildings and the departments within them is managed through the Datacenter.

The "Pod" contains a myriad of dedicated servers distributed in many racks, and will become the home of the WSU Applied Sciences Laboratory (ASL) high performance computing cluster in the near future. Because the equipment generates a lot of heat, much planning went into the heat exchange system. The air conditioning unit is prodigious, but the room has been designed so that there is a "hot aisle" where the heat pools, is pulled away, and then cooled for recirculation. As always, there is redundant power supply, UPS, fire suppression, and a moisture detection device has been installed around the room's perimeter to monitor any possibility of moisture.

Datacenter administrative and operations staff occupy the rest of the suite. The hope, according to Hoffman, is to increase the Datacenter to eventually occupy the entire space by adding a second pod along with the requisite amount of power and cooling. However, the current build out should be good for about 5 years. WSU Spokane is the fiscal and operations agent for the project. Hoffman is the on site manager.

In addition to campus educational needs, Datacenter research users include WSU Spokane and ASL; Eastern Washington University Spokane (EWU Spokane); Health Sciences including the WWAMI program partnership of WSU Spokane and University of Washington (UW), the RIDE (Regional Initiatives in Dentistry) partnership of EWU and UW, WSU College of Pharmacy, WSU College of Nursing, etc; and Sirti. Gonzaga and the Institute for Systems Medicine (ISM) are exploring Datacenter connections to the Gigapop which is administered by UW. As the Spokane medical school presence grows, so will the need for research connectivity in and out of Spokane.

The Datacenter project was made possible through an Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) Grant and funding from WSU Spokane. Much of the credit for creating the grant proposal and securing the grant goes to Greater Spokane Incorporated. The project team also included WSU Spokane, EWU Spokane, Sirti, ISM, ASL, Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, and the City of Spokane. Fiscal agent for the grant was Greater Spokane Incorporated.

The Datacenter required a number of consultants and contractors. Consultants included Callison Architects and Hargis Engineers. Construction was carried out by Graham Construction and Management (general contractor), Power City Electric (electrical), McClintock & Turk (plumbing), Apollo Sheet Metal (HVAC), Testcomm (testing & balancing), Inland Empire Fire Protection (fire suppression), Wayne Powell Painting (painting), Rubenstein's Contract Carpet (vinyl tile/rubber base), Modern Drywall (gypsum wall board & acoustical ceilings), Yadon Construction Specialties (frames, doors, finish hardware), TDL Contractings (install doors and hardware), and Krueger Sheet Metal (roofing & flashing).

Billie Moreland
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