Modular Data Center will be new home for University of Montana

The University of Montana announced in mid-January that its new data center is now ready for use.

Before the move, the school's computing facility was housed in the basement of its liberal arts building, a site that was originally built in 1972. The space was extremely inefficient and lacked a secondary cooling element and a generator, putting hardware at risk. Now, after four years of planning and construction, the university partnered with CommScope to create a modular design known as Data Center on Demand.

"We're going from arguably the worst data center in higher education to perhaps the best," says Tony Jablonski, associate CIO for the university's central computing services. "We're the first university in the United states using this particular modular data center."

The new $2.6 million facility is not only more spacious, offering capacity for 12 server racks, but is more energy efficient. Multiple data center sustainability techniques are being employed in the Montana data center, including natural air cooling in which cold winter air is allowed to flow freely through the building and evaporative cooling is used during the warmer months. Jablonski said that the school will save more than $40,000 a year on water use along with the new site, and university CIO Matt Riley said that the new site will use five times less energy than the old facility.

The Montana data center was able to employ large scale server virtualization, making the university eligible for data center tax incentives from the state. The school received thousands of dollars in rebates from Northwest Energy in exchange for consolidating their servers, and additional rebates are also available for the new facility.

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