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Technology to Support Research

Faculty/Staff Update — May 16, 2014

Colleagues,

Nearly every day in the KU Today e-newsletter from KU News, you can read about the innovative research your colleagues are working on here at KU. Strong research is vitally important to our standing as the state’s flagship university and our membership in the elite Association of American Universities (AAU).

KU Information Technology is collaborating with campus partners to strengthen our technology infrastructure and implement new solutions to support KU researchers:

  • KU now has native 10Gb connectivity to KanREN (our Internet service provider), providing benefits to KU researchers on the Lawrence campus. Many research buildings on campus, such as Haworth, Malott and ITTC/Nichols Hall, can now have an unimpeded 10Gb connection all the way from their buildings to KU’s Internet border.
  • To manage the massive amounts of data that research projects can produce, we are working with partners across campus to develop large-scale backup systems that can be shared by multiple research parties working under multiple grants. Through this cross-campus partnership, we are collaborating and co-funding expansion of existing backup systems to ensure we have the necessary capacity to store massive data sets. I appreciate the leadership and partnership on this project of the Information & Telecommunication Technology Center, Advanced Computing Facility, CReSIS, Research and Graduate Studies, the Center for Research Computing and IT Enterprise Infrastructure staff.
  • Use of the Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) has grown exponentially since it was brought online last March. Since April 2013, it has grown from 1,000 CPU cores to 4,200. The ACF has run more than 4.5 million jobs since July 2013 and has logged about 17 million CPU hours. The ACF is averaging about 450,000 jobs each month and has grown from 77 customers at startup to 115 now. Credit goes to Steve Warren, Joe Heppert, Perry Alexander, Dan Voss and Mike Hulet for their leadership and vision on the important nature of high-performance computing, and for championing its critical importance to KU’s success. To learn about using the ACF, please contact Dan Voss, Director of Research Computing, at dan.voss@ku.edu or (785) 864-7245.  
  • The Lawrence campus is expanding to the west, and much of the growth involves research facilities. To support these current and future research needs, we completed a redundant optical fiber loop last year to provide speed, bandwidth and capacity for up to 20 current and future buildings. I want to thank our partners in Design and Construction management for all of their help on this project.
  • To provide workstation support for the many faculty researchers on campus who currently do not have any IT support, we have repurposed internal positions so we can direct more resources to research workstation support. We have hired Greg Smith as lead in providing technology support to researchers on campus, and he will supervise two additional support positions. Greg previously provided technology support to the Biodiversity Institute and will now report to Alex Wong, who oversees our classroom support, workstation support, Customer Service Center and other support services. I appreciate the support of Leonard Krishtalka in recognizing the need and helping fund this position to benefit the entire KU research community.
  • We continue our efforts to upgrade infrastructure on the KU Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses to provide 10Gb connections to researchers. For example, we recently worked with Dan Voss, KUMC IT and KUMC’s Biostatistics Department to upgrade connections there so that those researchers could gain the full benefit of participating in the KU community cluster by transferring data back and forth at greater speeds.   
  • We recently made MATLAB, a high-level language and interactive environment for numerical computation, visualization and programming, available to students at no cost. Students can use the software in all campus labs or by logging into KU’s Virtual Lab. Faculty, staff and departments can also purchase MATLAB at a significant discount. More information is available at technology.ku.edu/software/mathworks-matlab.
  • KU IT continues to work closely with the City of Lawrence, Douglas County and other community partners to expand KU’s access to high speed private fiber optics throughout much of the city.  This will allow KU to directly connect to partners, research projects and properties such as the Wakarusa Research Facility throughout the city.  This new resource enabled a KU research project to apply for an win an NSF grant to connect the KU Field Station to high-speed research grade connectivity.

These are just some of the projects that are focused on the needs of the KU research community. Our efforts to identify and implement new solutions are ongoing because we know that when it comes to technology, standing still means falling behind.

Thank you,

Bob Lim
Chief Information Officer
University of Kansas


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