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April 10, 2015

New shared data centre to boost research at London universities

Jisc, King’s College London and five other institutions will join forces for open shared research data centre.

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A number of institutions will partner with educational network provider Jisc on a shared computational research data centre in Slough.

The University College London, Sanger Institute, Francis Crick Institute, London School of Economics & Political Science and Queen Mary University of London will benefit from the new facility.

Kings College saw the need to expand its research facilities to replace outdated infrastructure and an unsuitable environment for future technology development.

The new Slough solution will feature high performance computing (HPC) clusters, which can handle and analyse large amounts of data at high speed.

This way, larger medical research programmes that usually take months using normal computers will be able to be concluded within days or minutes.

Nick Leake, CIO at King’s College London, said: "HPC is fundamentally important for biomedical and mathematical research."

Jisc and its institutional partners opted for a shared data centre to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs.

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Researchers will also be able to collaborate more between themselves independently of their educational institution.

Ben Goodyear, consultant at King’s College London, said: "The shared data centre meets our needs for both enterprise and research computing. The combination of the space at Infinity, with its highly-efficient power and cooling infrastructure, and the ability to co-locate research data, created a compelling business case for change."

The project will also allow any other UK university, NHS academic science centre or research institution to use the facility.

Jeremy Sharp, director of strategic technologies at Jisc, said: "For the majority of our founder partners, power flexibility was very important as most work on biomedical and mathematical research, which takes a lot of processing power.

"We needed 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.

"Power provision used to be a major concern for us as HPC is integral to our research and requires racks that can handle peaks of up to 30kW of power to meet the demands of running large research projects."

"This is the first step to increasing collaboration between more universities and colleges. Smaller universities and colleges find it difficult to afford their own data centre facilities.

"Slough will provide access to the same level of technology as the larger universities, without the large overheads that go with it."

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