Kansas State University will use the technology for research and other technology needs. The equipment was held in storage from a failed Kansas Department of Administration cloud computing project.
(TNS) — Unused Kansas-owned computer equipment worth $10 million that had been stored in the basement of the Docking State Office Building has found a new home at Kansas State University.
The technology, left over from a failed Kansas Department of Administration project that made the news in 2017 when the KDA refused to disclose information about the equipment, will be used by K-State for research and to assist with technology issues created after the university's 2018 Hale Library fire, a news release said.
"The computer hardware provides the university with needed backup IT support and the computational and storage capabilities needed for research," said Gary Pratt, chief information officer.
The equipment, delivered recently to K-State, will be used with Beocat, the university's high-performance computing cluster, and with the KanShare cyberinfrastructure initiative.
"I'm pleased that we were able to work together to address a challenge facing Kansas State University," Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement. "The unused state IT equipment will now provide support and additional resources to our schools and higher education institutions thanks to this partnership."
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, the Sedgwick Republican who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said the project with K-State was preferred to the equipment continuing to sit in the basement of a Topeka office building.
She said the state should have made a fresh attempt to sell the computer products on the open market, but she learned a couple of weeks ago about the arrangement with Kansas State.
"By the time I found out about it," McGinn said, "the deal was already done."
At least two representatives for companies that deal in IT assets contacted the state in December to inquire about buying the equipment. Both said there would be a market for the equipment if it were made available for purchase, and both said they were told the state wasn't interested in selling.
Cole Rhodes, of Northbay Networks, said the state's haul involved servers and hard drives that would support a cloud network.
"Companies that have big websites or banks or just pretty much every tech company out there, they have these data centers where they store their companies' information," Rhodes said.
He looks for entities that are going out of business or upgrading their technology. That equipment is especially valuable, he said, to companies that have a small IT budget and don't need the latest or best equipment. Some are working with 20-year-old technology, he said.
Zach Broome, of Procurri Americas, said he was sure he could find a use for the state's equipment. He wasn't sure what the value would be.
"That is the million-dollar — literally — question," Broome said. "We were not able to get a list of the assets to determine how much value is really there."
KanShare is open to all Kansas public and private academic institutions, including the K-12 level, and also is used by the state's federal, state and local government agencies. It allows access to cyberinfrastructure for research and education.
Researchers at Kansas Board of Regents institutions use Beocat to share large data with collaborators around the world, a K-State release said. Beocat is housed in the computer science department in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering.
"Along with providing the technology to significantly strengthen our high-performance computing environment, the addition of this equipment also will help our students become more competitive in the areas of cybersecurity, bioinformatics and deep learning," said Dan Andresen, who oversees Beocat.
Andresen is a professor of computer science and director of the Institute for Computational Research in Engineering and Science.
Lee Allen, the state's chief information technology officer, said he was pleased the equipment could be used for educational and cybersecurity programs.
The equipment was originally purchased under former Gov. Sam Brownback as part of an Executive Branch Technology Modernization project. The state spent about $17 million before realizing the projected cost of $33 million had ballooned to $50 million, the state's chief IT officer said in 2016 meetings.
The state instead outsourced the project, and the $10 million in computer equipment sat in the basement of the Docking building for years. The state unsuccessfully tried to sell the equipment and was criticized by some legislators for not being more open about the failed project.
Capital-Journal staff writer Morgan Chilson contributed to this report.
©2019 The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.