A blue computer chip with illustrations of wires/connectors emanating from it.


As the 2023-24 school year begins, more researchers can take their work to the next level by utilizing the university’s new data ecosystem, called Hellbender, which is now officially operating at 100 percent capacity. This high-performance computing (HPC) environment will provide investigators with enhanced data storage and faster computing solutions.

For many researchers, the ability to compute and store their data determines how quick they can publish studies and often requires collaboration with technologists across the Division of IT Research Support Solutions team.

ITRSS is part of the Mizzou Forward initiative and an associated $7 million investment to develop next-generation computing resources and strengthen the university’s research data ecosystem.

John Harrison, manager of IT RSS X-Team, explained how this resource will support investigators with their research goals now that Hellbender is fully live.

“Computation and data storage solutions like Hellbender will prove to be invaluable to researchers at the University of Missouri,” Harrison said. “They will need these resources to compete at a national level and/or international level against other universities and colleges who are also building up their computational and storage resources.”

In April 2023, the ability to compute data faster increased significantly when technologists were able to bring Hellbender online at 50 percent capacity. Throughout the spring semester, the capacity for Hellbender quickly diminished as the IT RSS team onboarded priority researchers and their data.

As the IT RSS team worked to get Hellbender to 100 percent, the technologists needed additional equipment to power it all, which was delayed and backordered until December.  

“Our goal is to help researchers go further, faster and it’s difficult to do that without the proper hardware that enables us to go faster,” said Matt Stanley, IT RSS system administrator.

But rather than wait until December, the team got creative and using knowledge and resources from technologists across the Division of IT, including members of ITRSS on the MU and S&T campuses, Telecom Data Center, HPC units, and student employees, they discovered a sustainable solution that allowed them to power-on Hellbender at 100 percent.

“It had to be done in a way that would be efficient, balance our power load and create a level of stability so that it would be sustainable long term,” said Eli Riekeberg, ITRSS system administrator.

“To end users our computing capacity doubled overnight,” said Mark Bookout, Director of Research at MU & University of Missouri Science & Technology. “Without this effort, researchers would have lost approximately 17.6 million compute hours if we would have waited four additional months.”