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NDSU provides data storage for Dickinson State

With efforts ongoing to boost efficiencies statewide, NDSU’s Information Technology Division has entered into a service-level agreement to provide 3 terabytes of backup data storage for Dickinson State University.

In April, Todd Hauf, DSU’s director of computer services, approached Marc Wallman, NDSU’s interim vice president for information technology, about providing offsite data storage for disaster recovery purposes.

“As part of our formal disaster recovery plan, we were looking for an offsite location for backup storage,” Hauf said. “We’ve been aware of the IT services and support that NDSU offers for a number of years. After looking at outside vendors, we determined that NDSU would be able to offer us the data storage service we need at a fair price.”

Galen Mayfield, interim assistant vice president for enterprise computing and infrastructure at NDSU, said that his team saw the project as a mutually beneficial opportunity to extend current resources in support of another state institution. “This is an efficient use of resources,” he said. “Given that NDSU already has a robust storage architecture in place, we can use our resources to serve other campuses and save them the cost of developing such a service.”

Hauf consulted with the North Dakota University System chief information officer’s office and decided to move forward with the project in June. NDSU and DSU negotiated a one-year service-level agreement for 3 terabytes of storage. After testing the data transfer process between the two campuses, the requested storage space was made available for use beginning Aug. 1.

Mayfield explained that IT Division staff are typically able to provision data storage within hours or days of a request. However, the timeline regarding the DSU storage project was expanded to allow for thorough testing of data transfer speed and bandwidth usage given the geographical distance between the two campuses.

“During testing, we started out by transferring a small amount of data in order to find the rate of speed for the transfer, which Dickinson State found acceptable,” Mayfield said. That speed topped out at around 40 megabytes per second, according to Greg Wettstein, NDSU’s principal IT engineer. After testing the speed of the transfer, NDSU and DSU staff monitored DSU’s connection to the North Dakota Statewide Technology Access for Government and Education network to make sure that the amount of data being transferred would not congest the network.

The network provides broadband connectivity among all state agencies, colleges and universities, local government and K-12 institutions. Hauf said his team has scheduled the daily backup data transfer process late at night to avoid using too much of the network’s bandwidth during peak traffic hours.

NDSU has been building its data storage services for on-campus departments and external constituencies since 1999. Currently, NDSU’s storage architecture has a capacity of more than 80 terabytes. On-campus departments receive a base amount of storage for shared use, with the option to purchase more as needed. NDSU faculty and staff also have the option to request individual storage at no cost. Mayfield said the NDSU IT Division is looking into increasing the base levels of storage offered to departments and individuals. 

NDSU is capable of providing data storage for institutions located anywhere across the state, regionally, nationally and even internationally. “This is a great example of opportunities that exist for public institutions in North Dakota to collaborate, reduce costs, and provide greater benefit to faculty, staff and students,” Wallman said.

For more information about data storage and other services, including server hosting and application development, please contact the NDSU IT Help Desk at 1-8685 or ndsu.helpdesk@ndsu.edu.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.


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North Dakota State University
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