Stuff. Stuff, everywhere.
You’re a member of staff, a new student, an established student, a researcher, a partner, a tenant, a visitor. You could be a lecturer, manager, undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD candidate, programmer, one of the grounds team, a plumber, joiner or electrician, the VC, a counsellor, someone coming for an interview.
When you’re walking along University Road and you can’t see the electrical distribution system or the district heating pipes, or the drains, because they’re underground, you may not realise that there’s an awful lot of invisible (unless you know where to look) IT “stuff” all around you, making the University’s many and varied systems work. Underneath, alongside, over and – surprisingly to some – through you.
We have lots of stuff:
- Three datacentres: two active and one backup, where we can run the University’s entire set of IT systems from one alone if we need to
- Independent, but connected, compute platforms (big servers)
- Over 600 virtual machines (what used to be separate physical servers) powering all of the central IT applications and many of those run by departments
- Hundred and hundreds of disks providing a lot of storage (an increasing number of which aren’t disks but flash, solid-state disks)
- Literally miles*, and miles, and miles of fibre optic cable between buildings
- Over four thousand wireless access points, meaning you stay on eduroam wherever you are on campus, including outside (in most places)
- Also thousands of wired network points, with correspondingly many thousands of metres of network cabling connecting them to
- Over a thousand network switches
- Two HPC clusters (with large numbers of calculations floating inside them, very quickly!)
- Large numbers of managed lab machines, and rather more managed staff desktop machines
*or kilometres, if you’re more used to that. I’m old enough to work in metric and imperial!
Supporting all of this (and far more) are over 140 staff, spread across campus. We are, collectively and in no specific order:
- Systems engineers
- Network, wireless & data communications engineers
- System administrators
- Unified communications specialists
- Datacentre, power and cooling specialists
- Web designers
- Technical support specialists
- Windows server, Linux server specialists
- Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop specialists
- Storage administrators
- Project managers
- DBAs using Oracle, MS SQL and MySQL
- Software engineers using a plethora of different commercial and open source platforms
- First line support specialists on our Service Desk and in the PC Clinic
- IT Security gurus
- High Performance Computing (HPC) specialists
So, next time you’re standing at a bus stop submitting coursework through Learn from your mobile phone while it’s attached to eduroam, remember that there’s an awful lot of stuff in place to allow you to post your stuff to your lecturers!