Standard Operating Procedure

Data Center Facilities


Explain the general process and provide guidelines for use of UTPA’s Data Center facilities so that campus departments will have information about their options as they consider the addition of technology that may need these facilities. 

Departments generally require managed servers housed in the Data Center when they:

  • have mission critical applications and services to maintain
  • have applications that use sensitive or confidential data
  • have a financial application with attendant control/separation of duties requirements
  • have applications that run on servers and lack technical staff to manage the servers to meet HOP policies 8.9.1 and 8.9.4  requirements
  • require the business continuity capabilities of the Data Center
  • require the security features of the Data Center.


UTPA has approximately 2100 square feet of Data Center space in four machine rooms located on the campus.  Two of the rooms are Tier I and two are at Tier II for business continuity and physical security levels.  Current plans to upgrade one of the machine rooms during 2009-2010 will increase the Tier II space by 20%.  On Campus Data Center space is limited for the next 5 to 7 years to the space available now.  UTPA will be using the UT Arlington Regional Data Center (a Tier III facility) to provide failover capability for campus systems during hurricane season and at other times the campus Data Center may be down.

Data Center space is allocated and used based on the University’s operational priorities, with mission critical applications at the top of the list and less critical equipment and software systems farther down in priority in terms of access to the facilities for business continuity set up.  Growth of the currently in place infrastructure and the currently in production systems is the highest priority for use of the available space.

This procedure applies to new and additional technology above that currently in or planned for production.  While significant additions, in terms of capacity and cost,  is subject to project review and approval through the Information Technology Management Council, most department level projects can be handled routinely under this procedure.

It is important to note that to increase the effectiveness of the relatively expensive space in the Data Centers, upgrades of the currently hosted applications and future applications accepted for hosting in the Data Center will run in virtual servers whenever feasible. 

 Data Center services available to campus departments are:

  1. Server  and Operating System administration and maintenance
  2. Data Center environmental and security conditions
  3. Network connectivity at appropriate bandwidths
  4. Storage and storage management including backup/restore services
  5. Database Administration Services if applicable
  6. Services provided under a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  7. Additional space and services for the normal growth projected during project or SLA planning.
  8. Coordination with the Information Systems department for application administration services.


  1. Virtual Servers are preferred over hardware servers. Departmentally supplied hardware servers will be added to the Data Center only with the proviso that the next upgrade of the application/services hosted will be to a virtual server. 
  1. Equipment must be capable of fitting securely inside Data Center racks and be of a quality/age such that maintenance services are readily available from service providers.
  1. Documentation of software licensing must be complete with the proof of purchase, licensing contract, and terms & conditions of use.
  1. Any anticipated additional cost, transfer of budget for on-going cost of the hardware/software must be documented and agreed to in a Service Level Agreement.
  1. Timing of acquisition, move, and implementation of servers in the Data Center must be scheduled to avoid disruptions of Data Center service commitments.
  1. Service Level Agreement (SLA). A Memo of Understanding (MOU) may only be used for non-material or temporary provision of Data Center Services.


  1. Director of the Computer Center:   Works with departments to determine best services to fit department’s needs and where appropriate develops SLA/MOU which includes the implementation and startup planning for any services to be provided. Coordinates support that is required from other areas of IT such as staff support from Information Systems Development for applications administration.
  1. Data Center Systems Engineering Staff:  Performs analysis and technical tasks associated with inspection, de-installation/re-installation, configuration, testing, management, and maintenance of hardware /virtual servers, and associated hardware/software.
  1. University Dean/Department Head/Director: Approve requests and allocate staff/faculty to work with the Computer Center Director and systems engineering staff on a specific request for Data Center services.  Approve SLA or MOU and any movement of capital assets to the Data Center. Make records of asset related contracts and licensing available to the Computer Center Director.
  1. Associate Vice President for IT Data Centers: Review and approval of Service Level Agreement or Memo of Understanding, cost schedule (if any) and any exceptions to the prerequisites.
  1. Information Technology Management Council: Large or complex projects will be reviewed by the ITMC.
  1. Vice President for Information Technology: Will review requests/projects that impact any of the IT Division budgets or require a significant commitment of human resources.
  1. Project Management Office:  May provide project management services where large or mission critical information systems are involved.


  1. Campus Department’s request is routed to or a department may contact Director of the Computer Center, Frank Zecca ( or 384-5078 to discuss the department’s need for Data Center Services.
  1. Preliminary meeting completes the survey which identifies information technology components/products, technical and financial requirements, and the services needed. A conclusion is reached on whether to proceed to the next step.
  1. Technical Analysis is performed by Data Center Systems Engineers.
  1. Where application administration services are needed, the Director of Information Systems Services will be contacted by the Data Center for supply of those services. For large complex applications other procedures will apply.
  1. Department supplies technical and software ware licensing documentation and other relevant material such as contracts.
  1. The Computer Center Director provides the department with a draft SLA which documents the responsibilities, commitments, services to be provided, and the plans to provide the startup and on-going services.
  1. Department reviews the SLA and advices of needed additions and changes.
  1. Upon agreement of between the Computer Center and the department, the SLA is submitted for approvals. 
  1. Execution of the SLA begins after review/approval on the schedule as set out in the SLA.


  1. HOP policies as follows:
    1. HOP 4.4.1  Records Management
    2. HOP 8.9.1  Policy for the Use and Protection of Information Resources
    3. HOP 8.9.4 erver Management Policy
  2. UT System Policies
    1. UTS 115  Records Management
    2. UTS 165  Information Resources Use and Security Policy
  3. State Law as referenced within the above policies
  4. Standard SLA form


Archive:  Copies of data written in transportable format on durable media or media that is refreshed frequently with error detection and correction provisions.

Backup: Copy of files and applications made to avoid loss of data and facilitate recovery in the event of a system failure.  Default retention on backups is 3 weeks. Retention beyond three to six months is problematic due to the lack of durability of the media.  Longer retention periods requires rewrite of the data to fresh media to avoid high risk of loss.

Change:  Any addition, modification or update, or removal of an Information Resource that can potentially impact the operation, stability, or reliability of an Entity network or computing environment.

Change Management:  Process of controlling the communication, approval, implementation, and documentation of modifications to hardware and software to ensure that information resources are protected against improper modification before, during, and after system implementation.

Confidential Data:  Data maintained by state agencies and universities that is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the Public Records Act or other applicable state and federal laws.  The controlling factor for confidential Data is that of disclosure.

Copyright Violations:  Copyright is a form of protection of an author’s original works in Unites States Law that makes it illegal to use the copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s permission.  License agreements for technology products provide the permission and terms under which the copyrighted work may be used. Penalties for violation carry a price tag starting at around 2.5 times the license cost per instance of violation in the organization.

Data Center: A data center is a structure at a single location that provides the required services to enable the cost effective centralization of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) devices that support the business of an enterprise.

Data Center Tier Classifications:  Industry standard classifications that define the data center site infrastructure performance with regard to maintaining the data center in an operational state. Tier I  infrastructure is composed of a single path for power and cooling without any redundant components providing 99.671% of operational performance or no more than 28.8  hours of unplanned down time per year.  Tier II  infrastructure is composed of a single path for power and cooling with redundant components providing 99.741% of operational performance or no more than 22.7 hours of unplanned down time per year.   Tier III is composed of multiple active power and cooling distribution paths and has redundant components that are concurrently maintainable providing 99.982% or no more than 1.6 hours of unplanned downtime per year.  Tier IV has multiple active power and cooling with redundant components and is fault tolerant providing 99.995% availability or no more than 26 minutes of unplanned downtime per year.

Information System: An interconnected set of information resources under the same direct management control that shares common functionality.  An Information System normally includes hardware, software, information, data, applications, communications and people.

License Agreement:  Contract associated with the use of copyrighted products which contain the terms and conditions of use that must be satisfied by the user to be in compliance with the contract.  Most license agreements provide for the immediate termination of the users right to use the product where non-compliance occurs and may also provide for monetary penalties. 

Memo of Understanding:  Formalization of a negotiated understanding between parties.

Mission Critical: Information Technology which has been identified as essential to UTPA’s function and which if made unavailable will inflict substantial harm to UTPA and UTPA’s ability to meet its instructional, research, and public service missions. 

Personal Identifying Information:  Information that alone or in conjunction with other information identifies an individual, including an individual’s name, social security number, date of birth, or government-issued identification number; mother ’s maiden name; unique biometric data, including the individual ’s fingerprint, voice print, and retina or iris image; unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code; and telecommunication access device.

Server: A computer program that provides services to other computer programs in the same, or another, computer.  A computer running a server program is frequently referred to as a server, though it may also be running other client (and server) programs.

Server (Hardware):  A piece of computer equipment specifically designed to operate with computer software which provides services to other computer programs.

Server (Virtual):  Computer Software which creates a complete server environment within which a server operating system can run with the same functionality as it could run when installed without virtualization on a hardware server.

Service Level Agreement:  formal document of the agreement between a service provider and the recipient of the services.  It records the common understanding about services, priorities, responsibilities, guarantees, and may specify levels of availability, serviceability, performance, operation, other attributes of the service or the agreement.

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