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Server hosting service guide

Service outline

IT Services provides virtualized servers for use by staff across all College areas to meet College business needs. For example, IT Services provides server hosting for the College administrative applications such as the College HR system, the Finance system, the student system, research system and many other systems both large and small. Some of the larger systems use many servers to provide the required functionality and other systems may only need one server. This depends on the size of the system, the work it has to do and the number of people that connect to it.

Acquiring a server, or severs, from IT Services does not require the purchase and connection of hardware but instead the purchase of a virtual hosting service. A virtualised server is not a real physical server but an instance of a server running on software. Virtualisation allows many servers to be run on a pool of existing computer hardware in the College's Data Centres. The pool of hardware resources is expanded as required so that capacity is in place to support the addition of new virtual servers. This approach provides the College community with computer 'Infrastructure as a Service' (IaaS) and is nowadays called a 'private cloud'.

Technical information

Data Centres

The computer hardware is located in data centres which are specialized computer rooms. IT Services has 2 data centres on the College campus, the Green Data Centre in Áras an Phiarsaigh and the High Performance Computing Research centre in the Lloyd. IT Services also uses data centre facilities hosted by HEANET in a data centre in Blanchardstown in west Dublin. This latter data centre is used for disaster recovery purposes only.

High Availability (HA)

High availability provides for redundancy in a service so that, for example, if a server is not working then the service will continue to operate but possibly at a reduced level. When services are highly available the servers supporting the service will usually be split across the two campus data centres. For example there could be web servers in both the Green Data Centre and the HPRC data centre so that if one of the sites was affected the service would continue to run on the other site running on one of the servers.


The Virtualization software used is VMware. This is the software that runs on the physical hardware. Many virtual machines can run concurrently on the same physical hardware using VMware. Each virtual machine is a fully functioning server e.g. a Windows or Linux server. An application running on a virtual server is indistinguishable from an application running on a physical server.

Public Cloud

IT Services may host VMs in the public cloud in the future. These services will be approved for use by College and may be used for particular use cases.

Levels of Service

Systems and servers can be implemented with varying levels of service. The levels vary in cost as the facilities provided increase. The service levels offered by IT Services for hosting are graded as bronze, silver and gold. An outline of each follows:


  • The server is located in only one data centre on campus
  • No high availability
  • No data backup
  • No disaster recovery


  • The server is located in only one data centre on campus
  • No high availability
  • Backup to the disaster recovery site
  • No disaster recovery. Option for cold standby in the disaster recovery site


  • Use of 2 x data centres on campus
  • High availability is achieved by load balancing between data centres
  • Automatic failover to the secondary site when primary data centre fails
  • Backup to the disaster recovery site
  • No disaster recovery. Option for cold standby in the disaster recovery site

The Silver service is a very common level of service used. It has a single set of servers in one data centre only and is backed up regularly but there is no provision for disaster recovery. For critical College systems high availability is usually required. This type of configuration is used for critical services like the College’s student system, staff e-mail system and finance system.

General requirements

Scale of requirement

If the configuration consists of many servers and has a complex configuration, you are advised to provide IT Services with details of the requirements in your hosting request. For example, implementing a large system using a third-party partner may require discussion and further detailed design.

Who can request servers

Servers can be requested by registered College staff.

Where you can connect from

Servers can be accessed by registered staff and students from the College 'wired' network in offices and labs, from the staff wireless network and from the student networks. They can also be accessed from locations external to the campus if this is required.

Supported server operating systems

Windows 2016, Windows 2019, Linux Red Hat 7, others on request.

Service options

When requesting servers, as well as the overall category of service level e.g. bronze, silver or gold you will be asked to specify the requirements for compute power, storage, length of time required for, and whether you wish to have a data backup and recovery option.

Because the hosting environment is virtualized, the basic requirements for compute power are requested in terms of virtual CPUs (vCPUs). This may give rise to difficulty with a 3rd party solution as the vendor may require that their system be implemented on a particular class of physical servers with a specific chip set. For example specific types and brands of servers may be requested. To resolve this, the compute requirements need to be translated to the virtual resources required. This can be done in consultation with IT Services.

Note when tendering: if the system is being bought in the context of a tendering exercise, IT Services can provide the questions to ask of the 3rd party suppliers to ensure that the compute requirements are expressed in terms that can be implemented easily in the TCD virtual hosting environment.

Storage space requirements

You will be asked to choose the amount of storage space required for the disks in the operating system. Requests for very large amounts of storage will need to be discussed with the requester.

Length of time

You can choose to have the servers setup for between 1 and 5 years, with the option to request an extension of the time as you approach the end of the initial period.

Data backup and recovery options

For an additional cost you can opt for IT Services to include your server in a scheduled weekly or daily backup – this is part of the silver and gold service options. If you select a data backup option then you are entitled to 5 recovery requests within a 5-year period, with further data recovery requests incurring an additional cost. Data recovery requests will be processed within 3-5 days.

The backups for the previous 21-day period are retained. In the case of a weekly backup, there is one backup taken every 7 days  (3 backups in 21 days)  meaning data may be retrieved from the last full backup, as opposed to the daily backup option (Mon to Fri) which provides recovery from the previous night’s backup. For both types of backup you can recover data which is 3 weeks old.

The backups taken are written to backup appliances in the HEANET disaster recovery location in west Dublin.


The costs differ depending on the number and size of the servers required, how long they are required for and which data backup and recovery option is selected. A full quote is provided after submitting a request, based on what is returned in the questionnaire and also following discussion. Please note that pricing is subject to change. For example, alterations in the back-end infrastructure may requires some pricing changes. Below are sample costs:

  • Costs for a Windows 2016/2019 server standard edition with 4 GB memory, 1 x vCPU and 200GB storage with daily backup over 5 years is approx. € 4,000 or € 800 / year for 5 years.
  • Costs for a Windows 2016/2019 server standard edition with 4 GB memory, 1 x vCPU and 200GB storage WITHOUT backup over 5 years is approx. € 2,500 or € 500 / year for 5 years.

Your responsibilities, terms & conditions

Those using the servers must adhere to all College Policies, including IT Services Policies and the Good Research Practice Policy. Some important items to note are outlined as follows:

Business area contacts

The requester must be a member of College staff. A nominated second contact is also required. The IT Service Desk will only be in a position to accept queries from the nominated contacts, and not from other members of staff.


An initial payment will be required to have the server(s) made available and also annually after that by agreement with IT Services.

Data security

If the servers will host any of the following types of data, then this must be approved by IT Services and the college Cyber security officer:

  • Large sets of detailed student or staff personnel records, the loss of which could expose individuals to identity theft.
  • Individually identifiable health information. This includes information relating to past, present, or future conditions, or the provision of health care.
  • Financial data which if intercepted could result in financial loss to an individual or institution e.g. payment card data, bank account numbers
  • Usernames and passwords which provide access to other College IT systems
  • Biometric identification data

Requesting servers

Requests for servers can be made by registered College staff by emailing the IT Service Desk with the subject line "Server Hosting Request". Consultancy with the requester to determine requirements will be provided where required.

Expiry or Termination of service

Expiry of current period of subscription

If no contact has been made after the agreed period of subscription, IT Services will assume the service is still required.  As costs for the underlying infrastructure may have changed, the relevant department will be notified of any changes to billing at the time of invoicing.

Termination of service

When the service is no longer required then notification of requirement to terminate the agreement should be requested through the IT Service Desk by the nominated business area contact. Data can be migrated at the request of the nominated contact.

It is the responsibility of the business area contact to transfer any required data to their own media if they wish to retain a copy locally e.g. on their own machine. The requester has 3 weeks from the date of notification to copy the data before IT Services delete the data and servers. It will not be possible to refund the charges should the service be terminated early.

Getting help

If assistance is required with the service then the query should be first brought to the attention of the business area contact. If further help or consultancy is required then the query should be logged to the IT Service Desk by the business area contact.