World’s first collaborative data centre for education and research gains momentum

    In the 12 months since the first shared data centre for research and education was launched by Infinity SDC and Jisc, many of the country’s top universities, colleges and research institutions have joined to improve efficiency, decrease costs and advance collaboration on world-leading research.

    A year ago research in the UK was given a boost when the first shared data centre was created to support the requirements for academic research; becoming the first shared data centre of its type in the world. It is offered by specialist data centre provider, Infinity, through a framework agreement with Jisc.

    Now, eleven leading UK institutions are utilising the facility for high performance computing and core IT infrastructure; resulting in increased collaboration with significant research projects, improved efficiency across core IT and on-premise data centre facilities being repurposed for teaching.

    University College London, Francis Crick Institute, King’s College London, London School of Economics, The Sanger Institute, Imperial College London, Brunel University, Queen Mary University,  University of Surrey and the Higher Education Funding Council for England as well as the data centre’s first further education tenants,City of Liverpool College, have all moved into the facility.

    For researchers, being directly connected to the core of Jisc’s Janet network, the high capacity network for education and research, allows the quick and secure linking of large data storage and high performance computing facilities at national and international levels.

    Jeremy Sharp, director strategic technologies, Jisc says:

    “In the short time since launching, the shared data centre has proved a great success. Conversations with the sector show it to be in full support of the initiative, seeing it as an important step in allowing universities and colleges to be more efficient, effective and increasing collaboration that push the boundaries of research.

    “The fact that eight of the UK’s leading institutions have already moved into the facility is further support for the data centre and we are in talks to welcome more tenants before the end of 2015.”

    Commenting on why they selected the data centre, Nick Leake, CIO at King’s University College, says:

    “Power flexibility was a very important reason for us moving into the facility. We required a data centre to provide a range of power densities per rack, as well as the flexibility to change the power allocation within the data hall when needed to meet the processing power required for biomedical research. The facility certainly helps us with this and is a vast improvement over our previous on premise data centre.”

    Spencer Lamb, business development director, Infinity adds:

    “Colocation providers have rarely delivered services for research HPC clusters as the majority of these have been kept on premise by the user. The Jisc shared data centre has bucked this trend by providing a flexible home for these systems, laying the foundation for collaboration between these institutions, something that was very difficult to do in the past.

    “Furthermore an ecosystem is being generated to deliver further services to all the existing and future users as the Jisc shared data centre matures.”