The N.C. A&T grant of the month for November: Improving availability, reliability of data centers

Old Dominion Freight Line logoThe Sponsored Funding Report for November:

N.C. A&T received 16 grants totaling $2.16 million in November.  One highlight of November’s funding was an equipment grant worth $183, 200 from Old Dominion Freight Line of Thomasville to Dr. Larry Burton of the Department of Electronics, Computer and Information Technology and co-investigators Dr. Ibraheem Kateeb, Dr. Robert Cobb, Dr. Craig Rhodes, Dr. Cameron Seay, Dr. Li-Shiang Tsay, and Dr. Tony Graham.

The project:  Improving the Availability, Reliability and Cost Efficiency of Data Centers

The issue: In the last decade, leading edge enterprises adopted server consolidation to address the growing pains of constantly expanding enterprise data centers. In server consolidation, the operating system and applications of a computer server installation are emulated by a single software program known as a virtual machine. Consolidation comes when several virtual machines run on a single computer, yielding dramatic reductions in data center costs. The most recent trend is to extend the use of virtual machines to emulate desktop computers. A few to several thousand virtual machines can run on groups of connected computers, called clusters, to share computer processing power. The resultant amortization of processing demands yields both cost and performance benefits; such installations are called computer clouds. Leveraging virtualization and cloud computing demands similar performance enhancements in computer networking, especially in wireless mobility.

Abstract: This project aims to improve data center management techniques for better information availability, reliability, security, and cost effciency. The broader impacts of this project include development of advanced IT skills in the Triad workforce. This project will enhance learning outcomes of enterprise computing technology students at N.C. A&T, area community colleges, and high schools by engaging students in applied research and providing hands-on experienced-based learning. Additionally, availability of a skilled IT workforce will expand the Triad economy by assisting the expansion of existing enterprises and attracting new information technology dependent enterprises to relocate to the Triad.

Growth at Old Dominion Freight Lines (ODFL) necessitates the relocation of the present Disaster Recovery (DR) center in Greensboro to a newly constructed center located in Thomasville. The present DR site is fully functional and equipped with modern equipment comparable to most other corporate DR sites. The relocation provides a unique opportunity for ODFL and N.C. A&T. This project proposes that ODFL make a grant of the existing DR center to NCA&T SU and to Davidson County Community College (DCCC) for the purpose of establishing a state-of-the-art IT data center research and experience-based learning labs. The grant to DCCC is separate from this proposal, but the two labs are expected to collaborate in research on best practices of remote data replication and security.

A primary goal of this project is to involve undergraduate students in applied research. To this end, students will dismantle the existing DR center under the supervision of the investigators, then re-assemble the equipment on the N.C. A&T campus in a research and teaching lab in Smith Hall. The lab will be constructed as a standalone facility, independent of the campus IT network. This isolation allows the researchers to experiment with alternative network, power, and security configurations, without disruption to the production network. On occasion, qualified configurations may be installed in the campus data center for long term evaluation.

This project proposal is an equipment-only request. The establishment of a dedicated data center laboratory for research will provide researchers a competitive edge to request additional funding for support of additional investigations. As such, ODFL will be a catalyst for sustained research at N.C. A&T with measurable impact to the Triad economy and beyond.

The complete list of grants received in November (xlsx file).

One response to “The N.C. A&T grant of the month for November: Improving availability, reliability of data centers

  1. Pingback: ODFL grant to NC A&T

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