Information Services’ changes save $720K

Kathie Zipp

Cost-cutting shifts resources to better serve community

Kent State’s Division of Information Services has recently launched initiatives that will reduce costs, while aiming to better serve the university community.

The initiatives are in response to President Lester Lefton’s fall address, which stressed the importance of the university’s sustainability awareness and budget constraints.

Some changes include retiring the mainframe computing system, replacing Flashmail with Google’s e-mail system, Gmail, as well as consolidating physical servers to virtual ones. Edward Mahon, vice president for Information Services, said expense reduction is a constant concern.

“The goals are on-going,” he said. “It’s a continuous effort, which has definitely increased with the current economy.”

One of the most substantial projects was replacing the core administrative software that runs things, such as the university payroll. After working on the initiative since December 2005, it’s complete and will save Kent State more than $600,000 annually.

“It represents the end of a very important project,” Mahon said. “I don’t know of any other university that has been able to accomplish this. It’s really a compliment to us.”

Furthermore, more than 114,000 Flashmail accounts were moved to Gmail. Not only is Gmail preferred, but it saves $100,000 in equipment replacement costs the old system would have required. Google also provides multiple applications, such as more file storage, a spam folder and options to create online documents.

Consolidating walls of physical servers to virtual ones is another change for the university. Kent State has already consolidated 90 physical to 10 virtual servers and plans to convert an additional 60 physical servers to eight virtual ones this semester.

“Taking the physical servers and consolidating them to fewer, virtual ones to create efficiency in terms of the actual equipment needed, electricity use and maintenance contracts required… are the advantages of this project,” said Christa Skiles, editorial communications manager for Information Services, in an e-mail.

All these changes add up to about $20,000 in electricity savings annually, good news for the university and for the planet. In all, Kent State will save $720,000 per year from the changes, which Mahon said is quite a lot in the grand scheme of things.

He explained the goals listed in the university’s strategic plan are really the inspiration for the work of Information Services.

“It really drives our efforts,” he said. “It allows us to then divert our savings to other resources.”

Contact sciences and technology reporter Kathie Zipp at [email protected].