Ethan Vaughan, Asst. News Editor

The transfer of the George Mason University Data Center from Thompson Hall to the new Aquia Building was partially completed over the winter break.

The Data Center is the computer nerve center that keeps George Mason University’s e-mail system, Internet service, computational systems, electronic records and most of its telephone systems working.

Between Dec. 21 and Jan. 15, crucial components of the system were transferred across campus to the Aquia Building, which will house an expanded Data Center due to renovations on Thompson Hall.

According to Walt Sevon, executive director for the Technology Systems Division of George Mason’s Information Technology Unit, the most important part of the move was successfully repositioning the center’s fiber patch panel.

The panel, which serves as a conduit through which the Internet is channeled from more than 200 servers and then distributed to computers across campus, was replaced over a period of three weeks.

“It was really important that we did it over the break,” Sevon said. “We didn’t want to do it while people were here.”

The transition process was long and delicate. A new fiber patch panel was installed in the Aquia Building shortly after the fall semester ended, and over the course of nearly a month, the fiber optic cables that bring Internet access to more than 50 university buildings were cut and rerouted from the servers to the Aquia fiber patch panel.

“We tried not to do too many at once,” Sevon said, noting that the process resulted in temporary Internet outages in all campus buildings linked to the Thompson Hall Data Center.

“When you have 54 buildings you’re connected to, you have to be careful,” Sevon stated. “Moving the fiber patch panel was much more complicated and much more intensive than moving the rest of the Data Center, which could be transferred over a period of two or three days. They’ll come, wrap up the servers and network equipment, carry them over to Aquia, and hook them up there.”

Sevon said that none of the Internet outages lasted more than a week.

Among the areas supplied by the Data Center in the Aquia Building are Robinson A and Robinson B, SUB I and the Student Apartments.

The rest of campus has its Internet needs met by smaller hubs in Blue Ridge and Science and Technology II.
The rest of the Data Center is due to be transferred sometime in May, when renovations on Thompson Hall will be in full swing, while the Aquia Building is to be occupied by March.

“Substantial completion will be done by Jan. 28, which means building systems will be complete,” said Mike Herman, a capital outlay engineer and project manager. “Then there will be inspection, and occupancy permits, and then we move the furniture in. We hope to have a certificate of occupancy by March 1.”

When completed, the new structure adjacent to SUB I will have 50,000 sq. feet total, with about 7,000 sq. feet comprising the core computer network of the Data Center and about 18,000 sq. feet going to offices that will support it.