The network operations center that handles online learning and e-mail services for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System has been significantly upgraded, officials announced Monday.
It was moved to the Center for Rural Development in Somerset and expanded with a $1.1 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.
The upgrade added more capacity and features to protect against a service outage. The new facility is designed to come back online within seconds, said Lonnie Lawson, president and chief executive of the Center for Rural Development.
The high-tech bank of servers, cooled by two 22-ton units and backed up by a giant generator, requires fingerprint access as a security measure.
The center provides data- and server-storage services for a number of universities and businesses, and KCTCS is one of the largest customers. The center hosts 180,000 e-mail boxes for KCTCS and online classes for 50,000 students, said Rick Chlopan, chief information officer for KCTCS.
"This is the most state-of-the-art facility for hosting data, certainly within higher education, within the state of Kentucky," Chlopan said.
Lawson said the increased computing power creates an opportunity for additional business for the Center for Rural Development. For instance, it gives the center the ability to offer online classes nationwide, he said.
Republican U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, R-Somerset, said the network operations center will advance the rural development center's mission of improving the economy in his district — largely rural and with pockets of persistent poverty — through technology and innovation.