Data Center Ribbon Cutting

April 12, 2018

Good morning. Thank you for joining us.

Steve Ballmer, who was CEO of Microsoft, said the chief benefit of information technology is its empowerment of people to do what they want to do: to be creative, to be productive, to learn. In that sense, he said, “it is all about potential.”

Michigan State University is all about human potential too.

Having a capable, accessible and dependable information technology infrastructure today is absolutely critical to pursuing our mission. That’s what brings us here today.

Recent IT advancements at MSU
Since my return to campus as interim president in February, I’ve had a number of opportunities to learn first-hand about the advancements we’re making at MSU and of the many ways Spartans are advancing the common good.

Information technology plays a critical role in almost all we do in 21st century America. Technology is ubiquitous—it is vital infrastructure and in our community of teachers, researchers and learners, it is an essential tool.

Over spring break, Emmons and Shaw residence halls and University Village had wireless service installed in student rooms. The remaining residence halls will be completed next month, when summer recess begins.

Available, reliable and high-speed wireless service where students live and study is merely the beginning of necessary change at MSU. In today’s mobile world, information needs to be accessible everywhere, and we’re working to make certain that is true in every corner of our campus.

Looking ahead, our agenda must include tools that improve our lives—our experiences as members of Spartan Nation. This spring, we will release a new mobile app, the Spartan Experience App. It will include maps to help students and others navigate the campus with other features to keep them updated on campus events, menus, and other information.

This app is a small example of our potential. The change we envision is bolder and more transformative. Before I expand on the opportunities, let me talk about what today means.

The MSU Data Center
This new Data Center is a big information technology milestone for MSU. It’s an example of a world-class facility that will open opportunities to people on campus, and beyond. It supports the information technology demands of academic, research, and healthcare units across our campus.

It is state of the art: 1.) climate control; 2.) power and hazard mitigation; 3.) meets or exceeds government security standards and federal grant requirements; 4.) sustainable design in the site selection; and 5.) security and continuity protections.

It even has potential for expansion for our needs, or if community partners accept our invitation to use the MSU Data Center to support their operations in a safe, secure, and energy efficient environment.

Many of you know this Data Center was a partnership with MSU IT and Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. I want to congratulate the project teams on their success. The Data Center was built in 15 months, four months ahead of schedule. Completing a project of this scale demands strong collaboration with engineers, construction crews, electricians, plumbers, IT experts, HVAC professionals, inspectors, and others.

Leadership that can deliver a world-class Data Center of this magnitude—safely, and ahead of schedule—shows that they know how to get things done, together.

MSU IT reorganization
Getting things done is something I relish. I also like to build on success. Earlier, I mentioned bolder, transformative opportunities. First up?

Information technology at MSU is highly decentralized, with more than 60 IT groups across campus. Some groups, such as FRIB IT, the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) and the College of Engineering’s Division of Engineering Computing Services (DECS), play specialized roles, tied to specific federal research projects and needs. Most don’t.

Starting this month, we will begin the process of transitioning IT functions and services into a focused information technology strategy. What that means is, where not inconsistent with federal obligations or specialized research needs, today’s decentralized units will be reorganized into one central leadership and operating structure.

This model has been proven in public and private organizations that demand excellence, quality in technology, and security in a world filled with threats.

MSU’s information technology will be positioned to deliver functional solutions in an efficient and timely way. User experiences will be improved, and will become more consistent. IT skills and expertise across the university will be broader and deeper. Responses to planned and unplanned IT events will be more consistent and coordinated. And we will save money and boost effectiveness through coordinated equipment acquisition and better alignment with institutional goals.

MSU IT will become a more efficient, effective, robust, and client-centered organization. It will help us keep pace with the needs of students, faculty, researchers, and staff. Finally, MSU will remain competitively positioned with our university peers.

MSU IT, in partnership with our colleges and support units, is focused on making a difference at the heart of this university, which is our students and their success, and research breakthroughs that serve our society.

I believe in the potential and the power that focused technology can deliver for this great university. And I look forward to seeing how advances in IT will pay dividends to MSU in the future.

I want to thank Executive Vice President Satish Udpa and his team for their work here and in other operational areas, so others here can focus on the students and faculty who are drawn to our mission of teaching, research, and outreach.

I am proud of the advancements that the people of this university make every day, which are reflected in successes like the MSU Data Center behind me. Spartans, together, are securing MSU’s place for generations to come, supporting one innovation after another.

Thank you.