University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

University of Washington Server Policy

(Approved by the Senior Vice President for Planning and Management by authority of Administrative Order No. 7 and the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer by authority of Executive Order No. 63)

1.  Background

In 2009 the Washington State Legislature issued a set of goals that require all state agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15% below 2005 levels by 2020, and 36% below 2005 levels by 2035. That same year the University President submitted the University's Climate Action Plan (CAP), which describes the commitments being made by the University of Washington to meet its environmental obligations under the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). In 2012, the University President approved Executive Order No. 13, a policy statement confirming the University's long-standing commitment to sustainability. Beginning in 2013, the CAP Policy Committee began applying cost-benefit analysis techniques to a master list of 76 potential University actions that could be deployed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2014, the Committee produced a recommendation to relocate and virtualize servers, with the potential of reducing GHG emissions by a significant amount. This recommendation has been adopted by the University's administration.

2.  Policy

In support of the UW's efforts to meet its climate goals and objectives, no new server rooms or upgrades are to be designed into new or existing buildings on any of the campuses of the University of Washington. A server room is defined as a separate or shared space used to store, power, and operate computer servers and their associated components in support of business functions. Business functions are all of the activities that support the work of the University, whether academic, administrative, research, or clinical in nature.

3.  Policy Application

This policy is effective immediately and applies to all University campuses, schools, colleges, and departments, including those in partnership with the University through affiliations, and third-party entities operating in University facilities. Campuses, schools, colleges, and departments are henceforth directed to work with the UW Information Technology (UW-IT) unit on solutions for meeting technology requirements.

4.  Exceptions

University policies, standards, guidelines, and procedures institute controls that are used to protect and operate University assets and resources efficiently and effectively. While every exception to a policy or standard weakens the overall efficiency goals and intent of the policy, occasional exceptions may be necessary. The following sections define the process for the review, approval, and time limits of exceptions to this policy statement.

A.   Cost and Risk Analyses

A unit may seek an exception when compliance adversely affects business objectives or when the cost to comply significantly offsets the cost or risk of non-compliance. The unit must undertake a risk analysis, to include:

  • Identification of the issues and vulnerabilities (including data and space security), how likely each is to occur, and the potential costs of each;

  • The cost of compliance vs. non-compliance; and

  • Any other pertinent information that would reasonably justify non-compliance.

B.   Written Request

If a unit believes a justifiable business case exists, it must submit a written request to the Sustainability Office describing the business justification, the marginal cost-benefit analysis for granting an exception, and the results of the risk analysis described above. The Sustainability Office will work with the Office of Planning and Budgeting, within the Planning and Management unit, to consult, review, comment, and make a determination to approve or deny the exception. During this consultative process, other centralized services, such as cloud or other managed services, may be recommended if appropriate and economically feasible. Planning and Management staff will tender the final decision. If denied, UW-IT will meet with the unit to explore alternatives and services to meet the needs.

C.   Exception Time Limits

Approved exceptions are valid for a two-year period. At the end of each two-year period, the Sustainability Office will send a copy of the approved exception back to the requesting unit, which must present justification that the original exception is still warranted. If conditions have substantially changed, a new request for an exception may be submitted for reconsideration.

5.  Additional Information

For further information, see the Climate Action Plan Policies website for guidelines, instructions on requesting an evaluation with UW-IT, and on requesting an exception to the policy.

February 26, 2015.