by Jake W Streamer | Published January 30, 2023
Photo by Jada Jennings
sIn 1976, the third floor of Nathaniel Rochester Hall contained a diverse slate of projects and workrooms, all the work of a student community from a wide range of disciplines and experience levels. This is RIT’s Computer Science House (CSH), one of the few special interest housing floors on campus.
Both the members on and off the floor are intimately familiar with their institutions. Almost everything in this typical RIT row of bedrooms has been built or modified, including drink machines, doorbells, lounges, and the internal network switching system.
This past July, CSH received a huge donation thanks in large part from an alumni connection at Wayfair LLC. This contribution, which came after the company liquidated one of its server farms and outsourced several of its data centers to Google, provided CSH with over $800,000 in server equipment, cabling, and hard drives.
A floor official secured the donation for CSH back in May 2022. What started as a simple Facebook post exploring the devices in use has become an ongoing conversation between CSH and their Wayfair contacts. The company’s servers, originally used for offsite cloud storage, eventually fell into the possession of a number of university groups, including RIT’s CSH.
Right now, the server room in the house is equipped with various machines running on a row of server racks. Some of these servers are maintained by CSH, but the majority are created and programmed by individual members.
CSH members have a habit of hosting their own servers using a wide range of virtual machines, and it’s an essential tool for any education group learning networking, computing, or systems administration. Members can create anything from obscure video games to media servers and web services. Such a device requires intense computing power which becomes very easy for CSH to supply with the acquired hardware.
CSH Systems Director Marie Strudel explained how this practice affects home culture. “There are a lot of… internal things that make an ecosystem of members.”
CSH members access these tools, in part, to create virtual machines, allowing them to advance their knowledge of computer science.
She added, “I think that’s the most important thing – giving people the resources to play with expensive hardware…powerful hardware.”
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RIT links It is a convenient hub for viewing and quickly navigating through the various RIT sites that students use every day.
“And yes, we want to host more game servers,” McDade added.
CSH has earned a reputation for hosting video game servers, which are enjoyed by students and off-campus gamers alike. For example, RIT Counter Strike: Global Offensive has been running for more than five years and has been frequently visited by international gamers.
The total amount of the contribution is very large. “We received 1.2 petabytes of hard drive storage space,” McDade estimated. That equates to 1.2 million gigabytes, or the equivalent storage capacity of 4,000 laptops for the average consumer.
McDade then discussed the backups that are on the CSH servers. “Our main storage cluster has 300 TB of available storage and triple redundancy… so we have 900 TB in use right now as triple redundant storage.” This easily doubles your existing storage capabilities for more backups, programs, services, and other projects.
CSH has been a diligent and innovative congregation of the student body for many years, and the group is poised to cement its position as a key participant in the RIT community.
“We would also like to open the door to hosting websites for students and offering computing to others on campus,” said McDade.
The home servers already host the websites of many student organizations and special interest houses, including the House of General Science and Art House.
“If there are students or faculty who would like to host something or use our computers, we can facilitate that,” McDade added. “[The house] He has a dedicated team of [systems administrators] Willing to help get a website up and running on our servers.”
McDade also explained that the new hardware allows the home to retire old PCs. CSH has already started reaching out to local organizations that have a known hardware need.
“All of our old devices came to us in previous donations… some from [University of Rochester] Laser Energetics Lab, some from LinkedIn. These machines have served us well for a number of years and we hope they will do the same for others.”
“I think that’s the most important thing – giving people the resources to play with expensive…and powerful hardware.” “If there are students or faculty who would like to host something or use our computers, we can facilitate that.”