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December 4, 2017   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Information technology VP: Demand continues for computing…

Information technology VP: Demand continues for computing resources

Sara Pauff

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By Sara Pauff | December 4, 2017
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The demand for research computing resources for ­faculty and researchers at UGA continues to grow, said Vice ­President for Information Technology Timothy M. Chester, Nov. 15 during his annual State of Technology address.

"We need high-performance computing resources that not only meet the needs of faculty and researchers in traditional computational sciences, but also those researchers in informatics and data sciences," Chester said.

Chester said the needs of these faculty and researchers may differ depending on their area of research. The Georgia Advanced Computing Resources Center is exploring ways to help those faculty who need high-performance storage as well as to continue to meet the needs of faculty doing CPU intensive computational research.

"Over the next year, you'll see two different tiers of services at the GACRC: One for those faculty in areas like the basic sciences, who are focused on intensive computational research, and one for faculty in bioinformatics and data sciences, who need the cluster for storage," Chester said."They have unique and diverging needs, and we want a good environment for both of them."

The GACRC has one high-performance computing cluster, Sapelo, that is currently being rebuilt with new cluster management software that will improve usability, performance and security. The rebuilt HPC cluster will be relaunched as Sapelo2 at the end of the year.

The GACRC's faculty buy-in program, supported by a matching program investing EITS resources, is in its fourth year and has been popular among faculty. The program provides dedicated access for participating researchers while growing GACRC's shared infrastructure.

Chester also addressed technology milestones and goals in other areas, including:

• Continued growth in the university's internet usage and the number of wireless devices on campus. The university's internet usage has increased from 1.36 gigabits consumed in September 2011 to 10.13 gigabits consumed in November 2017. The number of wireless devices on the university's wireless network also has increased to almost 100,000 devices. Chester said there are plans in the next three to five years to invest between $5 million and $7 million in the network to increase capacity, refresh aging equipment and install new wireless access points across campus.

• Upgrades to student systems to make them more mobile-friendly. Banner, UGA's student information system, will undergo an upgrade to its user interface in the next year to make the system more modern and mobile-friendly. In addition, eLearning Commons will be updated to the Daylight interface at the end of the fall semester, which will make it easier to use the learning management system on a mobile device.

• The upcoming replacement of the university's finance, human resources and payroll systems with the new PeopleSoft system, beginning in spring 2018. PeopleSoft applications for finance will be deployed at the university level; UGA will join the University System of Georgia for a shared system for payroll and HR functions.

"Anyone who gets a paycheck or receives health care benefits from the university is going to be touched by this change," Chester said.

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