Hardware upgrade

Users of the Fine Rolls website may have noticed recently that pages are loading much faster than before. The improvement is due to a massive upgrade of the hardware infrastructure for the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) that took place in November and December last year. Henry III Fine Rolls is one of many complex digital resources for which DDH has responsibility. They are hosted on individual “virtual machines” (ie. servers that exist in software, rather than physical boxes) and these in turn are run on a much smaller number of physical servers with a large Storage Area Network attached. Over the last few years the resources (financial, personnel, etc.) available to DDH to ensure this all ran smoothly could not keep pace with the growing number of projects being hosted. The whole setup began to creak and groan.

Then two fortunate things happened: DDH got a substantial amount of money from King’s to spend on infrastructure improvements, and Tim Watts joined DDH as a full-time Systems Administrator. After a stellar effort by Tim, DDH now has a server setup equal to its task. I will not try to give all the technical details, but the following photograph sums things up nicely:

DDH's new hardware; the cabling is a thing of beauty.

The actual machines live in the large basement server room of the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC) where there are the kind of protections – secure facility, climate control, failover power supply, fire suppressant systems – that should keep them safe and running for the next few years.

DDH's equipment lives in the basement at ULCC

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