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This chapter is from the book

Universities Collaborate

Universities are in a unique position to collaborate on green IT. The case study on Columbia University in Chapter 10, “Green IT Case Studies for Universities and a Large Company,” gives an excellent example on how Columbia is collaborating on green IT—within the university, with other universities, with New York State organizations, and with New York City. Columbia’s Business School’s Green Club has already indicated its enthusiasm to collaborate in the green IT exercise. This can help lay the foundation for Columbia’s plans to submit the green data center results to Educause, NYSERNet, NYSgrid, the Center for IT Leadership, the Ivy Plus consortium, and the Common Solutions Group as a real-world case study. Columbia University anticipates good attendance at the Open House Workshop at the conclusion of the project. The vice president and chief information officer, the assistant vice president for Environmental Stewardship, and the E-Science Task Force have all endorsed this proposal. The opportunity to rigorously measure recommended best practices and technological innovations in a real-world environment, validated by the scrutiny incorporated from the beginning via the three potential user groups, can have a far-reaching impact within and beyond Columbia. The Columbia green IT collaboration also includes New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ten-year plan for New York City on reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent based on 2007 levels. Columbia University has committed to that 30 percent reduction even in the face of greatly increased growth in High Performance Computing (HPC) requirements fueled by the worldwide research community.

In the past several years, HPC has been growing at every research university, government research laboratory, and high-tech industry in New York State, nationally and internationally. HPC is a cornerstone of scientific research disciplines, many of which had previously used little or no computing resources. Researchers are now performing simulations, analyzing experimental data from sources such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, genetic sequencers, scanning-tunneling electron microscopes, econometric and population data, and so on. These applications have led to an explosion of computing clusters now being deployed throughout Columbia, as well as in peer research institutions and New York State’s biotechnology, nanotechnology, financial, and other industries; this increase frequently requires construction of new server rooms, putting pressure on space in existing data centers and leading to increased demand for energy. Without this research, New York State cannot compete in an increasingly high-tech, computationally intensive world.

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