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VUB opens new data centre

At the heart of the Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus in Etterbeek, VUB’s new state-of-the-art data centre has been opened. It measures 100 square metres inside and has even more space outside. “ We have laid the foundations for the further digitalisation of both education and research, and of operations themselves,” says chief information officer Henri Vanroelen.

Two years ago, the decision was made to build a new data centre to replace the existing, outdated infrastructure, which dates back to the 1970s. “With the renovation and expansion of the data centre on the Etterbeek campus, we are already achieving a number of milestones and goals,” says Vanroelen. “For example, for the first time in VUB’s history, we have a super computer (HPC) on campus and a data centre that can continue to operate via its own generator, even if the electricity is completely cut off. That’s important in the context of reliability and continuity of the IT environment, which has become indispensable for the university’s day-to-day operations. Looking to the future, with the data centre we have laid the foundations for the further digitalisation of both education and research, as well as of the operations themselves.”

Contemporary working 

All the small server rooms that were scattered around campus have now been moved to a central location. By gathering them in one place, sensitive data can be better protected and monitored.  In addition, the data centre is geared to contemporary working conditions, where people expect to be able to work from any workstation. To facilitate this, VUB is going for flex desks and an adapted network depending on where the user is located.

Safety first

The data centre can function completely autonomously. For example, there is an emergency generator that continues to work 24/7, even if the entire campus were to be without electricity. There is also a gas extinguishing system that prevents fire without causing damage to the internal data infrastructure. Physical access to the infrastructure is tightly controlled.

The entire project involves an investment of some €2.7 million, and means researchers can focus on their research and be less concerned with IT issues.

Take a virtual tour of the data centre.