NEW YORK, Nov. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Research is a significant differentiator for many of America's top universities. And with the influx of data now available to each school's investigative endeavors, higher ed CIOs are tasked with implementing and managing computing systems optimized for data and analytics applications. To compete in new and innovative ways, university research teams need sophisticated analytics engines to discover, interpret and analyze the unimaginable quantities of data now available to them from both internal and external sources – and to do so in shorter time spans than ever before. But, according to the fifth annual Logicalis Global CIO Survey, a poll of 890 CIOs in 23 countries, complexity remains the largest barrier for CIOs around the world in getting the most from business analytics. To help universities struggling with high-performance data analytics needs, Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com), suggests CIOs examine high-performance compute solutions such as IBM's Power Systems platforms that can help researchers get more work done faster, with less equipment, and oftentimes more affordably than scaling out a complex cluster of x86 servers – effectively accomplishing what many higher ed CIOs previously thought was the impossible.
"One of our clients, a Big 10 university, was in this exact position," explains Nick Turk, Solution Architect, Logicalis US. "They needed a high-performance data analytics solution. Before Logicalis was brought in, they had planned a very large-scale deployment of white box x86 servers – a monstrosity of an environment. Every server would have to be racked and stacked, networked and cabled. They would have needed a lot of switches, and of course, on the soft side, additional power, cooling and maintenance. We showed them, however, that an IBM Power Systems solution could provide more horsepower in a significantly less complex design."
"The key is the efficiency and scale of the platform," explains Paul Abram, Data Center Practice Leader, Logicalis US. "With Power, CIOs in higher education can deliver at least twice the amount of work per core than they can with an x86 platform – and that's the bare minimum. With many workloads, IBM Power Systems can provide 3X guaranteed performance improvements, and in some cases, 50X to 100X improvements. The thing university CIOs – as well as CIOs in vertical markets from healthcare and finance to retail, government and manufacturing – need to know about Power Systems solutions is that it really is possible to do today what was impossible just a couple of years ago."
Power in Higher Education To help university CIOs determine if a Power solution is right for their high-performance computing needs, Logicalis experts say it's critical to fully understand analytics requirements, data sources, the movement of data throughout the university's environment, as well as the school's overall IT resources.
1. Understand Your Analytics Requirements: Before making a new investment or a change to your data analytics compute environment, it's essential to fully understand what you are trying to accomplish. For example, are you simply trying to give the university's research department additional data-crunching capabilities, or do you want to extend those capabilities to all departments campus-wide? Some universities may need high-performance data analytics for examining medical use cases in one department as well as seismic or weather modeling in other departments. A general-purpose analytics engine can be used to meet the university's varied needs rather than implementing siloed strategies for each department, so looking at the combined requests of each department and implementing a solution that works for all may be the most cost-effective route to success.
2. Understand Your Data Sources: Know where your data sources originate as well as where they could originate and all the ways that data may need to be used and manipulated before implementing a solution. Imaging, seismic, space and weather data may be gathered once, then used in different ways by different departments. One research group may want to analyze the metadata, while another may be interested in the location and machines that generated the data, and still another may want to examine the images themselves pixel by pixel. Knowing what kind of data is being gathered and which departments need access to that data will help determine the platform that can deliver the best performance in the most elegant way possible.
3. Understand the Movement of Your Data: In research analytics, there is a huge amount of research data being manipulated and, often, shared within a university. Before implementing a compute solution, therefore, it's important to examine how and when that data will be stored, shared and moved throughout the system. The goal is to move these tremendously large data sets as infrequently as possible and to store them only once without the need for duplication. As a result, universities need to think through their networking and data storage requirements very carefully before deciding on a strategy.
4. Understand Your IT Resource Needs: To provide a common analytics infrastructure that all the university's departments can tap into, start by analyzing the school's compute, networking, storage and security requirements campus-wide, then design an infrastructure that can support all those needs. Even if your investigation began with a particular research department's request, it won't be long before the university's business leaders and developers will be asking for analytics capabilities as well. Therefore, you're going to need a common infrastructure that is scalable, manageable and sustainable – and one that can continue to grow affordably. While both IBM Power Systems and x86-based solutions can offer the compute power you need, the Power Systems architecture delivers a unique ability to scale both affordably and securely.
Want to Learn More?
Want a professional assessment of your university's existing infrastructure? Find out how Logicalis can help: http://ow.ly/jF3l30goIau.
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