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Server room solutions enable a hands-on learning experience at Dakota State University

Dakota State University specializes in technology-centric training programs that rely on Eaton’s server room solutions to provide students with hands-on learning opportunities, while safeguarding its extensive lineup of IT equipment. 

The challenge

Dakota State University (DSU) specializes in computer management, computer information systems and other technology-centric programs. The university’s new Beacom Institute of Technology, designed to advance innovative approaches in education, includes state-of-the-art classrooms, teaching laboratories and collaborative spaces where faculty in all disciplines may develop and refine new teaching methods.

“One of the really cool features is an academic server room inside the building,” notes Dr. Kyle Cronin, assistant professor of cyber operations at DSU. “We are running real servers and other network equipment as part of a classroom experience.”

When building out the 13x26 square foot room, DSU went to great lengths to ensure that the environment was packed with all of the devices students will encounter in the real world—including those that are power-related.

Thanks to a unique partnership with Eaton® distributor HM Cragg and IT solutions provider High Point Networks, the university was able to deploy a comprehensive Eaton power management solution within the server room.

See how, with the Eaton solution in place, DSU is now able to:

• Provide a comprehensive IT lab environment where students gain proficiency in power-related aspects of the IT world;

• Safeguard its server room against downtime and equipment damage from power anomalies;

• Give students a leg up in preparing for a future profession in IT networking and security

Academic server room outfitted with Eaton solutions

First installing eight Eaton server racks, the university outfitted each with an Eaton 9PX uninterruptible power system (UPS), both a metered and a switched PDU, an environmental monitoring probe, and a Network Card-RS communications card.

The solution safeguards dozens of servers, switches, routers, firewalls and other network gear within the server room.

“You can see eight racks of equipment all running with UPSs and PDUs,” explains Cronin. “It is entirely a classroom for learning. We wanted equipment we could tinker with, and something that would allow us to really teach students behind the scenes.”

The sensitive electronic devices require a high level of shielding against South Dakota thunderstorms and other hazardous weather conditions.

To do so, the Eaton 9PX UPS, which maximizes availability with extended battery runtime options, hot-swappable batteries, an internal bypass and an optional maintenance bypass was chosen. In addition to exceptional reliability, the UPS also provides more real power (watts) to protect equipment, while leaving room for expanding IT systems.

“Even though it’s for learning exercises, we wanted it to simulate a real server room, so we decided to go with an online double conversion UPS,” explains HM Cragg Sales Representative Scott Missling, who was brought in to the project by High Point Networks. “We also recommended the managed and metered PDUs so DSU could use them remotely if they desired, and they could monitor and control critical factors at the outlet level. We wanted to provide them with a well-rounded solution that would work very well in a learning environment.” 

Our big claim to fame is that we offer a super hands-on academic experience; our students are immersed in it. The Eaton equipment allowed us to go this next step.

Dr. Kyle Cronin, Assistant professor of cyber operations

In the near future, DSU also plans to install Eaton’s power management software, which will enable students to engage with a variety of UPS monitoring and management tools. “The idea is that students will leave DSU, hit the work force, and will be able to truly walk into a position with a managed service provider or networking business thanks to the knowledge they have acquired here,” says Cronin.

The professor also offers high praise for the Eaton rackmount PDUs. “One thing that’s often unappreciated is the fact that the cord doesn’t fall out,” he notes. “In a real server room, people probably aren’t crawling around inside the racks on a daily basis like we do here in the classroom environment, but it’s great not having to worry about that when we have kids in and out of these full racks every day.”

The future certainly looks bright for the next generation of cyber warriors, thanks to DSU’s unwavering commitment to real-world education. 

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