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Servers (Housing and Administration)

The VCU Computer Center supports multiple types of servers and multiple types of operating systems

In its 900 E. Main St location, VCUCC has a state of the art computer room with keycard access, raised flooring, racks for mounting equipment, high-capacity air conditioning, and power provided by a battery backed-up building uninterruptable power supply. Individuals and departments can move their servers to VCUCC and take advantage of the superior facilities.

The VCUCC staff members have expertise in Windows and UNIX operating systems, system design and administration, processing technologies and systems. Whatever your need, VCUCC has the skills to meet your challenge.

Contact the VCU Computer Center for more information regarding server hosting and administration.

 

UCC Server Housing Standard Operating Procedures

 

Introduction 
The UCC staff is responsible maintaining a secure highly reliable Computer Center infrastructure for servers and in general all IT equipment that supports the University. A high degree of coordination between various University departments and TS departments is required to maintain the appropriate controls to ensure high reliability of the Infrastructure that is essential to support the IT requirements of the University.

Audience
This Operating Procedure gives requirements to System administrators/engineers for maintaining housed equipment in the UCC.

Purpose
These procedures have been put in place in order to allow the UCC staff and the Network Services staff to provide reliable IT service to the University as a whole. There are over 600 pieces of equipment in the Computer Center at the Pocahontas Building primary site. This requires the need for accurate record keeping and coordination with the UCC staff for installation, maintenance and de-installation of all equipment. This Operating Procedure addresses the requirements for equipment not maintained by the UCC staff. The procedure is for equipment that is only housed at the facility and maintained by the individual or department that owns the equipment. The UCC server housing service offers physical security, temperature controls, secure network connections and power for equipment that may be otherwise maintained in a less desirable environment.

Server Housing Requirements 

Equipment will be considered for housing on a case-by-case basis, but server housing is contingent on space and infrastructure availability. When a customer requests server space at the VCU Computer Center Pocahontas primary site first consideration will be to place the server in a suitable Virtual Machine environment. If the application is deemed to not be appropriate for a Virtual Machine environment the application will then be considered for deployment on a physical server. These decisions are made on a case by case basis with emphasis being placed on utilizing one of the Virtual Machine environments in order to conserve overall data center resources. Configurations for the Virtual Server environment will be determined by the UCC engineers using vendor documentation and working with the server requester. Generally VMs will be thinly provisioned. Virtual Resources can easily be increased later if required. Charges for the VM adjustments will not be applied until the next SLA renewal the following June.  
If new hardware is required, the UCC can assist with the server specifications and ordering. The UCC generally will only house rack mountable hardware. Exceptions have been made to this policy after review by the UCC staff. Generally the UCC staff would like to see applications housed on data center production level equipment so the end user will experience a secure more reliable hardware environment. It is strongly recommended that all equipment be under a vendor’s hardware warranty or third party maintenance coverage. The UCC can assist with adding maintenance coverage with our third-party vendor, SMS. All UCC housed equipment must comply with VCU IT policies and standards, which at the minimum include anti-virus software be installed and maintained, and that Operating System and database patching are kept current. VCU Assurance Services requires that housed server owners provide both a patching plan and a patching schedule for potential review by the VCU Information Security Officer (ISO), and further requires the VCU Computer Center to deliver the Housed Server Standard Operating Procedures to all potential housed server customers when a request is made to house equipment at the VCU Computer Center’s Pocahontas facility.

All server equipment in the UCC needs to be set up to respond to ping traffic from the Xymon (Hobbit) monitor. This enables the UCC staff and Network Staff the ability to monitor issues that may develop in the environment.
Centralized data storage is available from the UCC to either be directly (fiber cable) attached to the housed server, or attached over the network (Network Attached Storage). Click here for a list of current UCC data storage fees

Housing Procedures
Equipment additions (including VMs) to the UCC 

1. A UCC Jobs request is required to discuss your plans for housing your system at the UCC. The request is made through Service Desk. When creating a new ticket in Service Desk, select 'New Server Request’' in the ‘Servers’ section of the ‘Servers & Storage’ category.

2. All requests for new servers, IPs for existing servers, or additional network ports for existing servers require ‘Service Desk Request’ in the ‘Servers’ section of ‘Servers & Storage’ category of LANDesk Service Desk. Submission of the Service Desk request will generate a data classification security review and security plan for Information Security Officer approval (ISO). The security plan must be approved by the ISO before the server can be provisioned. Upon receipt of the request, the UCC will forward this SOP document to all administrators requesting Housing services from the UCC.

3. A Server Inventory entry is required before a network connection will be provisioned. The server Inventory site is reached through the IT Professionals site. A Network Action Worksheet (NAW) is attached to each server inventory entry. The NAW is used to record the port requirements of the server. As part of the housing procedure, UCC staff will assign the Rack location.

4. After receiving approval for server provisioning you need to request an IP Address and DNS through Service Desk. When creating a new ticket in Service Desk, select “Network Services” category. Select ‘Request a new IP Address’ or DNS Name request from the Selection List. The NAW should be completed BEFORE the request for an IP assignment is made. The rack location and NAW is information required by Network Services to complete the IP request.

5. If the request is for physical equipment, all equipment racking is to be performed by the UCC staff, or under their supervision.

6. If the request is for a virtual machine, select ‘Request A New Virtual Machine’ from the Virtual Machine section of the Servers and Storage category.

Equipment Maintenance 
All equipment deployed in the computer center needs to be maintained at certain standards. This is required in order to maintain the integrity of all equipment in the Computer Center. All equipment will have to be patched upon notification by the UCC staff or ISO as quickly as 24 hours for nonscheduled vendor patch releases aimed to address a specific immediate threat. All Windows servers are required to run a fully functioning version of the current VCU virus protection solution and be maintained with current Microsoft patches.

Equipment removal from the UCC 
1. A Remedy ticket is required to inform the UCC about the removal of the equipment. When creating a new ticket in Remedy, select 'Server Provisioning' in the Problem drop down.

2. A Decommissioning Checklist outlining the proper decommissioning procedures for a server needs to be completed. It will be the requester’s responsibility to perform these tasks. The Decommissioning Checklist can be found here: VCUCC Forms, also linked under Related topics on the Computer Center page in the Technology Services Knowledge Base.

3. Surrender the IP Addresses and DNS entries. The request is made through Remedy for the surrendering of the IP address and the removal of network cables. DNS entries to be surrendered should also be named. When creating a new ticket in Service Desk, select "Network Services/Telecommunications" in the Problem drop down. Select IP Address Request or DNS Name request from the Selection List.

4. All equipment removals are to be performed by UCC staff. The equipment will be removed when the NOC is notified that the above tasks are complete.

5. The Server Inventory entry should be removed after the equipment is removed.

UCC Staff Support 
The University Computer Center staff is available for support (other than the coordination of equipment deployment) at $50 per hour with a 4 hour minimum charge per server for assistance with building/configuring/diagnosing/repairing/rebuilding any servers housed at the UCC. Full hardware/OS support “Hosting” services are available at $100/month.