Harvard SEAS Creates an Efficient, Innovative High-Performance Computing Infrastructure

Working with an innovative, vibrant group of stakeholders enabled us to create a world-class research computing infrastructure built to support Harvard’s SEAS user demands well into the future.

As part of a long-term strategic planning effort, the Harvard University School of Engineering & Applied Sciences (SEAS) recognized the need to collapse multiple data center facilities into one purpose-built facility to support the high-performance, advanced technologies employed in the SEAS academic and research community.  SEAS faculty work within and beyond the disciplines of engineering and foundational science and support primary research in Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics, Bioengineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science and Engineering, Materials and Mechanical Engineering, and Science, Technology, and Innovation. A wide array of world-leading research initiatives ranges from Computational Neuroscience to Bioinspired Robotics, Artificial Intelligence to Energy and Sustainability.

Harvard looked to Leading Edge Design Group (LEDG) to help evaluate available spaces, review the budget and logistical implications, and develop a strategic plan to help the school create an efficient, innovative high-performance computing space. LEDG Data Center services include:

• Evaluation of all physical infrastructure and IT equipment across multiple facilities operated by multiple groups profiling each space and evaluating existing equipment (cooling, UPS, etc.) reusable in consolidation.  

• Review of current real estate determined by Harvard to have potential as a data center space. Each space presented unique challenges, all requiring footprint modifications through demolition and reconfiguration.  
• Gathering and analyzing a large set of stakeholder requirements, real estate information, and current equipment information and using it to set forth the high-performance computing strategic planning effort translated into tangible recommendations for Harvard’s review and action.  

• Helping select and renovate an existing data center into an innovative, high-performance computing facility through footprint expansion, power, HVAC, telecommunications upgrades, architecture improvements, and energy efficiency upgrades.  

• Recognizing that cooling represented the most significant opportunity for efficiency improvements, LEDG prepared an overview of cooling options ranging from a traditional room-based CRAC to “containment ready” high-density PODs using chilled-water In-Row cooling. The analysis included cost expectations associated with all models presented.  

• Management of many Harvard stakeholders representing facilities, academic computing, research computing, space planning, campus utilities, network infrastructure, green building services, and more. The project also involved a construction manager, various subcontractors, commissioning agents, and movers. Harvard entrusted LEDG to work directly with the stakeholders to ensure needs were met and served as the conduit for the project, delivering consistency and communications at every step.

“Working with an innovative, vibrant group of stakeholders enabled us to create a world-class research computing infrastructure built to support Harvard’s SEAS user demands well into the future,” said Todd Boucher, Principal, Leading Edge Design Group
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