MAYS LANDING _ The 42 Supermicro Superservers just installed at Atlantic Cape Community College might not be brand new, but they are far newer than what the college was using, and better yet, they were free.
“For us, these are just broken in,” said Douglas Hedges, Dean of Information Technology Services at Atlantic Cape, noting that the old servers they will replace have been around for more than a decade.
The servers, which are three to five-years old, were donated by Galloway Township-based Linode LLC, a Linux virtual private server or VPS cloud hosting provider, which has been donating its slightly used servers to colleges around the state for the past few years through its IT Workforce Preparation Initiative. The company was founded in 2003 by Christopher S. Aker.
Chief Operating Officer Thomas Asaro said because of the work they do they must upgrade servers frequently, and donating the still-usable servers to colleges is a way to keep the servers in operation, and help colleges upgrade services for staff and students.
“We have to do it to stay competitive, and it also helps the colleges,” Asaro said.
Linode management views the donations as an investment in future employees. The newer servers will allow colleges to offer students upgraded computer science curricula, making them better prepared for jobs. About a half-dozen colleges in the state have benefited from the donations, including Rutgers, Richard Stockton, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Keith Craig, public relations manager for Linode said as the cloud expands, a larger workforce will be needed to manage it. A community college like Atlantic Cape can train students fairly quickly, and if students can learn more advanced programming on upgraded servers, they become more marketable as employees.
“The ideal would be to have them job ready at graduation so they could come in at the middle instead of the bottom entry level,” Craig said. The company has has had to hire new employees from out of state because they could not find qualified candidates in New Jersey.
Sean Fischer, Dean of Resource Development at Atlantic Cape, said the college welcomes businesses and other groups as partners. The college has received theatre equipment through the Schultz-Hill Foundation, and other groups offer in-kind services for college fund-raised to help reduce costs.
Vice President of Academic Services Otto Hernandez said technology is a particular challenge because typically what is offered is too outdated to be useful.
“That’s what made this such a great opportunity,” he said. The college had been looking for grants and other funding to help upgrade its technology, and will be opening a new science building later this month.
Hedges said when the company called, he was delighted to accept.
“They asked if I was interested, and I just said ‘how many do you have,’ “ Hedges said. “It came at a great time.”
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