Frequently Asked Questions

Data Center Aggregation Project (11)

What is “Administrative Excellence (AE)?”

“Administrative Excellence – Shaping our Future” is a key UW–Madison initiative to identify opportunities for our campus to become more effective, efficient and flexible. The Huron Consulting Group assisted the university in identifying efficiencies and savings to help the university manage significant reductions in state funding. The goal is to leverage existing continuous improvement efforts and foster new ideas to create optimal administrative practices.

Will any existing data centers be closed as a result of this project?

No existing data centers will be closed based on their ability or inability to meet the recommended minimum attributes. To elaborate, it is not the intention of the team to develop a list of data centers that “should be closed down” based on their ability or inability to meet the recommended minimum standards coming out of this project. There will be no such list. Rather, the team has been analyzing all of the larger data centers on campus, including characteristics beyond physical attributes, to make initial recommendations regarding which two or three (or more) data centers represent logical aggregation points, perhaps even piloting the aggregation process with a willing campus partner.

We recognize that any process for “moving” data centers to centralized campus aggregation points is likely to be a long-term, multi-year endeavor, which will take into account factors such as funding, incentives & disincentives, data center lifecycle, services needed and other critical considerations.

What’s behind the decision to establish an aggregated data center and service for campus?

As part of the Administrative Excellence (AE) initiative, an extensive survey of campus was conducted to evaluate the potential for efficiencies and savings in the area of data services. The team uncovered a significant amount of duplication in data services and recommended the aggregated service approach. Their recommendation was approved by campus leadership on June 5, 2012, launching the current aggregation project. For more details, download a PDF of the full business case.

What are data center services?

In the context of this project, a “data center” can actually mean any number of things, from a single server maintained by an individual or group for a single initiative, to a room full of servers, to the use of cloud services.

The services surrounding these “centers” refers to selection and maintenance of devices (servers and storage), security, access and networking — in other words, everything outside of the actual data management and analysis.


What do you mean by “aggregation?”

Servers are widespread on campus and are located in a variety of facilities ranging from individual offices to large data centers. This initiative will identify facilities that for purposes of energy efficiency, security and availability are appropriate to house servers, including those facilities that may need to be upgraded first. Consolidating servers from the remaining unsuitable locations into approved facilities will result in aggregation of data centers.

Who will be participating in this service?

The goal of the project is to serve the entire campus through a centralized service. We are implementing a campus-wide, aggregated data center service in order to help you make better informed, faster decisions.

What if I have unique data management needs?

The team is working hard to create a model that will provide maximum flexibility of service, while delivering efficient and consistent operations and governance. If you have unique requirements that you believe might not be addressed by this project, please contact the project team leaders at to discuss them.

Who will manage this service when it’s implemented?

Per the Phase III Work Team Project Charter, when the work of the project teams is completed, ownership and responsibility for the new policies, processes and leadership framework will be transitioned to DoIT.

How do I participate in this project?

If you are interested in participating in the pilot program – whether you’re getting ready to set up a new data center or make changes to an existing service – please contact the project team leaders at

How do I prepare to move to the new, aggregated service model?

Unless you are working on the launch, move or expansion of a data repository, right now you don’t need to do anything. As planning continues, the sub-teams may approach you with questions about your requirements, and we appreciate your partnership in this process. The implementation team will provide details on migration planning by Fall 2013.

If you do need to take action in the short-term, please contact the project team leaders at to discuss participating in the pilot program.

What is a PUE Assessment?

PUE (power usage effectiveness) is one measurement used to assess the energy efficiency of a data center facility. PUE is expressed as a ratio of total facility power and the power drawn by the IT equipment alone. While 1.2 is the industry benchmark, 1.8-2.0 is typical for facilities not focused on energy efficiency and greater than 2.0 generally means there are “simple” things that can be done to improve efficiency.