The Primary Data Centre at City University of Hong Kong
(CityU) will be relocated to make room for several strategic
initiatives and the setting up of additional wet laboratories. The Primary Data Centre relocation project is divided
into two phases: the first phase is scheduled to complete by the end of Q1 of
2020, while the second phase is expected to be completed by Q1 of 2021.
The current data centre was set up when the building was
constructed in 1989. General data centre
requirements such as cooling capacity, floor loading, fire services, physical security,
raised floor, uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), dual source electric power
supply were all well thought out during the design phase. Therefore, as of today, CityU has been
renowned for its IT development, setup and leadership in many fronts.
Along with CityU’s development, a Disaster Recovery (DR)
site has also been built to serve as a backup site for the primary data centre
in another building. This will remain
unchanged for years to come.
Relocating the primary data centre is a high-risk and daunting
task. Many online services, as well as
inter-connections among scattered hub rooms and departmental server rooms, are
required to be rebuilt or migrated to another data centre with minimal
downtime. This has posed big challenges
to the Computing Services Centre (CSC), which currently manages the entire
university's IT infrastructure. The CSC has
considered the followings when the decision was made:
- To find a new server room that can
comply with the modern data centre requirements with minimum renovation work
similar to the one shown below;
- To reduce the downtime for all critical
services during the service migration;
- To minimise the number of physical
servers required to run all the workloads in the existing data centres;
- To relocate the IT support staff closer
to the data centre at its new locale;
- To modernize and redesign the architecture
for many legacy systems;
- To shorten service provisioning time
using the new setup
The CSC had reviewed many options on the main campus as well
as off-campus, and finally decided to upgrade the existing secondary server room to become the Primary Data Centre for
CityU. With the collaborative effort from the
existing users (ACIM, COM, and CS), sufficient space is freed up in the server
room for the setup of the Central Server cluster and High-Performance Computing
cluster, as well as room for future expansion.
As a result of this exercise, around 800 m2 of
space has been made available for use by the University.
Since there will be additional equipment to be installed, and the new
primary data centre is only one sixth the size of the original data centre, a
high-density and hyper-converged architecture (Ref: Network Computing Issue 98 – December 2018) is adopted, with related building
services such as electricity, uninterrupted power supply, and fire services being
upgraded to address the rising needs of the data centre.
The renovation work was already started in February 2019 and
scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
Relocation of physical servers and virtualized servers in the first
phase will begin as soon as the renovation is finished, which is expected to
complete in 2020.
While the relocation may be affecting some of the services, the
CSC aims to shorten the downtime as far as possible, thus minimising the amount
of interruptions to all users.