November 2012 update from the CIO

I did not send out an October 2012 update from the CIO. My apologies. It does mean there’s a lot to report this time.  Hopefully, before you take off for Thanksgiving you’ll have a chance to read this update and maybe even comment on it.

CINE wireless signal.
If there’s only one thing you take away from this CIO update, let it be this: “CINE wireless is not going away yet and the college needs my help identifying problems with Claremont-WPA”. OK, that’s two things, but at least it is one sentence.

The CINE wireless signal will soon be retired, and has already been removed by some of our sister Claremont Colleges. As I wrote in a previous article, it is open and unencrytped, and therefore quite insecure. However, we have been hearing reports of issues with the new Claremont WPA signal. We are working to unravel the various elements in these reports.  For example, is there an underlying issue with increased wireless demand on campus?  Are there issues with individual devices?  Is there an issue with the configuration of Claremont-WPA?

HMC will not retire the CINE signal until problems have been resolved and we have a good wireless access solution for College guests.

The problems that are being reported (and that we sometimes experience ourselves) appear to be intermittent. Those are often the hardest to resolve, so please make sure to report any problems you encounter by writing to  And a sincere thank you to those who have been reporting issues to us.

Planning activities: Portal Improvements
CIS continues to engage in planning activities that will update our list of tactical initiatives for 2013-15. Here’s one that you may find interesting.  We are going to pay special attention to the portal over the next 18 months.  John Trafecanty, one of our most talented programmers, and the person who gave us rock solid Sakai support for so many years, now includes the two Portals among his responsibilities.

Also, I have been discussing with a number of people the idea of forming a Portal Advisory Group that will help guide CIS work on the portal.  The vision statement for this group goes like this:

The portal is a tool which we know HMC has not used to its full capacity. This group will guide CIS and the College in improving and expanding use of the portal.

Registrar Mark Ashley has agreed to chair this group, which we are fondly referring to as “PAG”.  You can read a little more about this initiative at this link: and please watch for updates during the rest of the academic year.

Saddle Rock
The annual HMC Trustee retreat (called “Saddle Rock”) took place at the end of October in Palm Spring.  Trustees, Faculty, Students and Staff came together for two days of discussion of educational technology and its implications for Harvey Mudd.  We saw presentations about flipped classrooms by HMC faculty, about MOOCs by Stanford faculty and staff and about the latest in learning management systems by the founder of WebCT, Murray Goldberg. It was a joy to participate in the engaging discussion of these technologies.

Discussions with Faculty Executive committee (FEC)
During the month of October, I had a good discussion with Kerry Karukstis, Chair of the Faculty, about a number of things that had come up in the course of Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) meetings.  They ranged from a request for an online faculty voting system to requests for more information about our IT sourcing strategies. One outcome of these discussions was an agreement that I would meet with the FEC Committee at least once per semester.  I see this as a great new element in our evolving IT governance and I am really looking forward to working with the FEC.

Educause Annual Conference
7,600 people, including me, attended the Educause Annual conference in Denver the week immediately following Saddle Rock. Educause is an organization dedicated to IT in higher education. There were some excellent presentations, including one on “IT as a core academic competence” by Clay Shirky.  Despite its somewhat dry title, Shirky’s presentation included delightful examples such as a DARPA project that tested crowd sourcing to solve an intelligence problem, an example of crowd sourcing to solve math problems and an example of what happened when a large newspaper company instructed regional papers to “go digital” with zero budget to do so.  The whole presentation is online at (Shirky’s presentation begins at about minute 19 of the video). It’s well worth looking at.

Much of my time at the conference was spent in meetings with vendors, with colleagues from other institutions and on two Educause committees (the IT Issues panel and the 2013 Annual Conference Programming Committee).  Next year’s annual conference will be near us in Anaheim: consider attending.

Teaching and Learning Building
Last, but very far from least, there’s the matter of a large building that is shooting up on our campus. There are only 233 days left until it opens! As I write, I see out the window that scaffolding is up in preparation for tiling the facade of the building.  At CIS, we have been engaged in preparations for the network and AV systems in the building.  We are keenly aware that expectations around the building are high and we are anxious not to disappoint.  Working closely with Project Manager David Dower, we have been meeting with all of the people responsible for systems that will need some network connectivity (everything from security cameras to the point of sale register in the cafe).  We have engaged a company called SIGMAnet to help with planning for network improvements around the building as well as the in-building network.  We are also actively working with Western AV, the “design and build” vendor for audio-visual systems in the building.

OK. If you made it all the way to the end of this long report, you are now among the people I am thankful for this holiday! As always, if you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly (

Everyone at CIS wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Portal Advisory Group

I have been discussing the portal with a number of people around campus over the last few months. Improvement and expansion of the portal will be a key initiative for the next two years.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. The portal plays a key role in many important areas of the College’s activities.  Grades, Registration, Advising, Student Billing and Alumni Directory are just some examples.
  2. We know that other institutions have more attractive and functional installations of the same portal software (JICS), so our instance of the portal can be made better too.
  3. Because of the fact that we collaborate with the other Claremont Colleges to provide cross-registration for students, moving to a completely different portal is not a simple proposition.
  4. Both Jenzabar, the company that provides the portal software, and AISO, the Pomona College unit that manages the underlying student information system, are committed to making improvements to the system, and we can build upon those.  For instance, Pomona recently informed us that the back end database was handling 60 million transactions per day during the Fall pre-registration period.  They have recently migrated the system from HP Unix to Linux, and are anticipating improvements in response times.

We have already taken the first steps in the portal improvement initiative. We are planning to create a Portal Advisory Group, with the following vision statement:

The portal is a tool which we know HMC has not used to its full capacity. This group will guide CIS and the College in improving and expanding use of the portal.

Registrar Mark Ashley has agreed to chair this group, which will include representation from the many areas that use the portal, as well as faculty and students.  Among the tasks we will ask the group to undertake is to advise on the queuing of CIS projects related to the portal. They currently include:

      • HSA Advising application
      • 40+ Portal improvements suggested by Registrar
      • Electronic Billing
      • OCA requests
      • Student research portlet and forms
      • Single Sign On
      • Adding a staff tab to the portal

John Trafecanty has recently taken over responsibility for the portal, as his duties related to Sakai were much reduced when we moved the Sakai service to Pomona College.  John always bring talent and persistence to programming tasks, so we anticipate great work on the portal.

Watch for more updates on this initiative and do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

September 2012 update from the CIO

I know we’re two weeks in, but welcome back to all who have been away from Claremont over the summer. And welcome to the Class of 2016!

This is the first update from the CIO for the Fall 2012 Semester.

Here at CIS we had a very busy summer.  Most of this update will cover changes we have made or are in the process of making.  So please read on.

Email and Calendar
We closed down and migrated all active accounts to either (Google Apps) or (Office365). We are now focusing on accounts that are still on the VMS system named “Thuban”. That work is a bit more complicated, although there are only a few accounts on the system. Once we have moved the accounts, and found a home for web content that still resides on Thuban, we will be able to close down the VMS systems. This is consistent with an approach we describe with the phrase “stabilize, standardize, simplify”.

Now that we have done the work of migrating accounts to the new systems, we are beginning to turn our attention to the fact that both Google Apps and Office365 are much more than email systems. For instance, we’ve been asking people how they make use of them.  For example, Eliot Bush told us how he uses Google apps, and Patricia Wang did the same for Office 365.  In CIS we’ve started using shared Google docs to capture the agendas and notes for our meetings. We like the fact that agenda items can be added at any time, and the notes are easily shared and searchable.  Senior My Ho has been helping us by building a Google Apps script application to help run meetings and automatically distribute notes and action items.  Meanwhile, some departments have started to explore the Google Apps marketplace and request the installation of apps in the domain. If you’ve found a good use for either Google Apps or Office365, do drop us a line to tell us about it.

Password Policy
In November 2011 the President’s Cabinet approved a password policy for HMC.  I ask that you read it carefully and follow the policy whenever possible.  During discussions of the policy last Fall, the Computing Committee advised that CIS should provide some information about password management tools, so Jeho Park and Calvin Tong wrote up a report which we hope you will find useful.

CINE wireless signal to be decommissioned
All of the Claremont Colleges broadcast the same wireless signals in an attempt to provide a consistent user experience. As part of a Claremont wide agreement,  the CINE wireless signal (SSID) is scheduled to be turned off.  The CINE network is insecure (no encryption), open (accessible by anyone) and the internet (IP) addresses) associated with it are needed by the other wireless networks.  The target date for shutting down the CINE signal is Fall Break 2012.   Some of the other Colleges and the Library have already stopped broadcasting the signal, so you may not see it if you roam off the HMC campus.  At HMC we will turn off the CINE signal only after we have established a system for guest access that is consistent with the College’s values and needs.

In the meantime, if you are not a guest, you should connect your wireless devices to either “Claremont” or “Claremont-WPA” and we recommend “Claremont-WPA” since it is the most secure. Our instructions for connecting to either of the two networks are on the College website.

The agreement between the Colleges means that your experience on either the “Claremont-WPA” or “Claremont” wireless networks should be the same, independent of which campus you happen to be on.

Computing Labs
Toward the end of the summer, the User Support and Systems teams upgraded the Windows operating systems on computers in Labs managed by CIS (LAC and Learning Studio). They are now running Windows 7 and OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).  If you run into any problems, make sure to send a message to

The User Support team has been attempting to learn more about Academic Department Labs, with special attention to the labs that are in Departments without a dedicated IT person. We are exploring options for better hardware and software support for those labs.

IAM@HMC next steps
In August, we sent people a link to our new password self service portal, which allows you to configure your password for our Single Sign On (SSO) environment. We are working with the vendor to make some improvements to the self-service portal, based on feedback we received from you (thanks!). Currently, only three applications are part of that SSO environment, Ultipro (Payroll/HR), Google Apps and Active Directory (Charlie, Alice, Claremont WPA, Cognos reports).  As the year moves forward, we will add more applications and begin working on account provisioning and deprovisioning (automatic creation of accounts when someone joins or leaves HMC).

Planning Activities
We spent a good deal of time over the summer on planning, as we need to develop tactical initiatives that will shape our work for the next two years. We will continue to use the framework established by our IT strategy document (online version at and pdf version at  That document outlines four strategic areas for IT at Harvey Mudd:

  • IT Decision Making (Governance)
  • IT Infrastructure
  • CIS, the central IT organization
  • Innovation

This summer, each unit within CIS developed draft goals for our new set of tactical initiatives. The goals currently number in the 40s.  We are working on refining them and have begun seeking feedback from key stakeholders. Expect more updates on this during the Fall, along with a report on progress on the 2010-12 tactical initiatives. If you find yourself wondering “why all this emphasis on planning?”, consider this: High performing IT organizations not only provided more consistent and predictable service levels, but they consistently spent less than 5% of their time on unplanned and urgent work (also known as “firefighting”) (Behr,Kim, Spafford The Visible Ops Handbook 2005)

On the News Site
Cindy Abercrombie and Elizabeth Hodas put together a helpful list of Fall semester reminders for faculty, which you can read at

You can also read about the exciting line up of Bite of Learning for the Fall semester

Soon to come on the news site are articles on Little FE, Data Management Plans, XSEDE and other good stuff.  I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity.

From everyone at CIS, best of luck for a great Fall 2012 semester.


May 2012 update from the CIO

After a wonderful Commencement and set of Board Meetings, CIS has now shifted gears for the many projects we undertake in the summer months.

Email and Calendar
We are on track to hit the target of shutting down by the end of June ( was shut down some time ago).  At that point, we will no longer be using Zimbra for email.

In preparing for Calvin Tong’s departure, I checked in with the email and calendar team. Although they will miss Calvin, the team was confident that his departure would not slow the email migration project down.

The majority of faculty, most staff, and all students have moved to either Google Apps ( or Microsoft Office365. As a reminder, everyone will eventually have a google account, to facilitate collaboration on documents and spreadsheets; staff will also have an Office365 account, to facilitate the use of Outlook, one of the more popular “fat” (non-web) email and calendar clients. If you need a google account sooner (for example, if you are on a committee that is using google apps), please send an email to to request one.

You are more than likely aware that there were four significant Sakai outages during the month of April, for a total of 15 hours of unanticipated downtime.  They were due to problems with a storage device (SAN) at Pomona, a power outage on the Pomona campus that shut down cooling to the Pomona data center and human error. We are currently conducting incident review, in order to draw what lessons we can from these incidents.

In March, an intercollegiate committee, the Information Technology Committee (ITC), decided to move Sakai from Harvey Mudd to Pomona. The Claremont Academic Deans Committee (ADC) recently endorsed this idea, and we are now working with Pomona staff to arrange the transfer.  HMC was investing significant resources in managing the Sakai service for the Claremont Colleges, and we are now looking forward to being able to concentrate more fully on projects that are local to HMC.  From the end user perspective, you should not see any major changes in the Sakai service overall.

More important than the location of the Sakai service, both the ITC and ADC have begun to ask the question: what should our next step in Learning Management Systems be?  Should we stay with Sakai? Upgrade to Sakai 3.0 (“open academic environment”)? Change to a different system?  Look forward to more on these questions in the Fall.

Identity and Access Management
I have written before about the Identity and Access Management project. One of the future outcomes of that project: people will no longer spend time logging into different applications over and over again during their work day.  This is already true for those who make regular use of Ultipro, the HR application.  We are now testing self-service password management, which will allow you to reset your HMC password after answering a few security questions.  We are also testing single sign on for Google Apps, and the campus portal is next. After that, the really big phase of the project will involve mapping out account provisioning procedures so that we can automate account creation, triggered by changes in status (such as being hired, or becoming a student at HMC).

Portal Passwords
Speaking of the portal, we are aware of the problems that some people are having with portal passwords (unable to reset password).  We are working with Jenzabar, the company that provides our Student Information System, to resolve this problem.  We apologize for the frustration this has been causing for some users.  It is an intermittent problem which is affecting some users but not others and so it appears to be one of those issues that are difficult to track down.

Projects for the summer
We have lots more summer projects.  Here are some of them:

  • HSA advising project.  We are working to virtualize the server that hosts the HSA advising program. We are also working with HSA to redesign the application.
  • AV and Networking in TLB.   CIS staff are deeply involved in work on the network and AV functions for the new building, which will open in a mere 409 days.
  • Infrastructure and Network. In order to tackle the challenges outlined in my PPCPC presentation and build a long term plan for the campus network, we’ll be working with a vendor named LightRiver over the summer.
  • Creation of new student accounts.  We’ll be creating new student accounts as soon as possible, with a few changes this year, given the new elements in our environment (Single sign on and Google Apps).
  • PaperCut. We are rolling out print queue management software for all the large printers this summer.  The software is called PaperCut and it will allow us to provide a much better experience when printing to any of the large printers; it should also significantly reduce paper waste.
  • And we’ll be exploring app development in the HMC Google Apps environment, just to keep things interesting.
More to come …
As we did in previous summers, we have selected a number of faculty projects to support under the Teaching with Technology program. We are supporting three projects by providing software, staff time or student support.  Elizabeth Hodas will shortly write an article about them.

In the first of a planned series about “How I use Office365 and/or Google Apps for Education”,  Jeff Groves told you about two things he liked about Google Apps.  We’ve got an interview coming up with Patricia Wang, who will tell us what she likes about Office365. If you have discovered a feature of either Google Apps or Office365 that you like, please let us know.

Those who are on campus know that we’ve been hosting demonstrations of interactive whiteboard technology such as SmartBoards and Luida.  We’ll follow up with a summary of what we learned.

The incoming students are active and chatting away on the Mudd on Facebook app.  Check it out at
It’s promising to be a lively summer.  Come back to this news site for updates. Enjoy!

Top 10 IT issues 2012

Educause has just released a video preview of some of the top ten IT issues for 2012, which is embedded below.

I serve on the Current Issues Committee that produces the list of top ten issues.   This year, we completely changed the process for selecting the top ten issues, and this resulted in some interesting new perspectives.  The full article is available on the Educause Review Site.

March 2012 update from the CIO

The semester progresses and we’re getting closer to the moment when we graduate a new class.  So I’ll keep this update brief.

iPad 3 and Kinect
If you’re in need of distraction, we have a couple of the new iPads and a Kinect available for loan from the CIS help desk.  You can borrow them to try out for a couple of weeks. Contact the Help Desk.

Google Privacy
Google introduced a new privacy policy for their suite of consumer products.  The HMC  contract for Google Apps for Education is not affected by this new policy, as it is a separate contract. There are more details at.

Sakai service changes
It is almost certain that Harvey Mudd College will no longer be the “lead Claremont College” for the Sakai service after this summer.  This is as a result of long discussions about the options for sourcing the service, either with a specialized company or with another lead college.  Again, there are lots more details in the article about Sakai service changes coming.

Email and Calendar progress
The Email and Calendar team has been busily migrating people off of (Zimbra).  We have migrated more than 40 faculty to Google Apps for Education and have begun migrating staff to Microsoft Office365 (CIS moved a couple of weeks ago; the President’s Office moved this week and OCA begins moving next week).  It looks like we are on target to remove all the accounts by the deadline we have set, which will allow us to discontinue the licensing agreement for Zimbra.

As with all technology changes, there is a learning curve, both for us and you. We have a plethora of options at HMC, with a high emphasis on autonomy. So there are lots of different email clients and practices that people have, which inevitably means there is at least a little bit of learning for each new migration.

We’ve started collecting anecdotes about how people use Google Apps.  For example, read about a couple of things that Eliot Bush does. If you have ideas to share, let us know.  Also, Calvin wrote in detail about an issue we were seeing with mails forwarded to yourself in Google Apps for Education.

Survey on Student Use of Technology 
I recently sent a message to students-l about participating in the Educause Center for Applied Research survey of student use of technology.  It’s an annual survey that is widely cited and helps many institutions make technology support decisions.  This is the first year that HMC had an opportunity to participate. As I wrote to the students, it’s time that the national survey included opinions from students at the institution that gave the world the MIME standard (Ned Freed ’82), SQL (Don Chamberlin ’66), Flash (Jonathan Gay ’89), Remote Procedure Calls (Bruce Jay Nelson ’74) and Audacity (Dominic Mazzoni ’99).  If you agree, prompt a student near you to complete the survey!  Thanks.

Next update will be late April/early May.  Not very far away. Until then, may the end of the semester be a good one for you all.

Sakai Service changes coming

Harvey Mudd College has been the “Lead College” for the Sakai service since its inception in 2006.  This means that we provide the service to all the Claremont Colleges and receive some funding from the other Colleges to do so.

About two years ago I began to explore the option of contracting with rSmart for Sakai hosting.  rSmart is a company dedicated to hosting Sakai and other Higher Ed applications for a long list of higher education customers.  Hosting the service with them would take advantage of their expertise and the scale of their operation, which is based in Arizona and housed in one of the largest data centers in the country. On almost all dimensions of the comparison — cost, architecture, functionality, infrastructure, expertise — rSmart looked to be an improvement over what HMC could provide alone. Exploration of this option took many months, and then in August 2011 I made a formal proposal to the Information Technology Committee (ITC) that we should host Sakai with rSmart.  A series of monthly discussions took place, including a visit by the rSmart team in December.   However, I did not manage to persuade my CIO colleagues from the other Claremont Colleges and so the ITC voted to accept an offer from Pomona College to host the service.  The ITC is now moving forward to bring that recommendation to two other Intercollegiate committees, the Business and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) and the Academic Deans Commitee (ADC).  Assuming those committees endorse the idea, the Sakai service will be provided by Pomona College effective July 1, 2012.

If the service does move to Pomona, end users will not see any real difference in how the service is delivered. Pomona has offered to continue to subsidize the service and to augment and strengthen the infrastructure, which are good things.  Over time, they may install the rSmart version of Sakai which would provide some nice additional functionality over the “vanilla” version of Sakai that we have been running.

User support for Sakai questions will continue in the same way as it does now.  You can contact the Help Desk for help with issues and if you need advice on how to use a particular tool, you could contact Elizabeth Hodas.

For CIS, the change means a return of time and resources that were being dedicated to supporting the intercollegiate service.  During the analysis of the rSmart option, I discovered that we were subsidizing the service by about $50k per year. We were indeed investing time and resources in an important service and received praise from the other Colleges for our work.  But we are now looking forward to investing time and energy in other projects that will benefit the College, while confident that the Sakai service will be delivered in the ways we were familiar with.


Google’s new privacy policy and Google Apps for Education

On March 1, 2012 Google introduced a new privacy policy that applies to their consumer products (gmail, picasa, youtube etc).   There was a huge amount of coverage of this in the media.

Discussion with the HMC Computing Committee made it clear that we should remind you that the HMC contract with Google is for the Google Apps for Education (GAE) service, which is a separate suite of products, covered by a separate contract.  The new privacy policy does not apply to the core GAE service.

Among the key differences between GAE and the consumer service is that GAE includes a FERPA clause.  This clause stipulates that Google is subject to FERPA in the same way as the college is, and must process educational records (such as emails to students) accordingly.

In our discussions within CIS, we were struck by the fact that what Google is doing seems so much part and parcel of the tracking we are all subject to, both on and off line.  Retailers have been doing it for decades, as we learned from a NY Times article about how companies learn your secrets. I find it fascinating which practices and policy changes get noticed, and which don’t.

So, again, the GAE contract is separate from the Google’s consumer product privacy policy. If you have concerns or want to learn more, you should read the Google Apps for Education contract.

You may also find these Chronicle, Educause and Campus Technologies posts of interest.

February 2012 update from the CIO

This is the February 2012 update from the CIO, with news about a number of projects.

CUC switched over to Ultipro for payroll and benefits in late December, in time for the new tax year. Ultipro is Software as a Service (SaaS), delivered over the internet.  Since it is used for processing payroll and benefits it will no doubt become familiar to all HMC employees.  It includes a number of self-service options that allow you to change things like the address and phone number that HR has on record for you.  We are delighted to say that Ultipro is the first application to be included in our Identity and Access Management (IAM) initiative.  The immediate effect is that you will not get a new username and password for Ultipro but instead you will use your HMC Credentials to access the site.  Later phases of the IAM initiative will include self service password management for your HMC Credentials and inclusion of other applications, so that once you’ve logged on to one application, you won’t be challenged for a username and password when you open the next application.   Eventually, Ultipro will serve as the “authoritative source” for employee information, and we will use the information it contains to trigger automated creation and deletion of accounts on many systems.

F&M’s Isabel Jordan played the role of guest author and wrote for us about the upgrade of EMS to EMS Campus.  EMS Campus is shared between all of the Colleges, and operated by Pomona College.  The registrars were particularly interested in this upgrade as it will provide an online process to build the class schedule each semester.

CIS service vision
I wrote earlier about our BAO and CIS service initiative, which ended in early January.  We owe the members of the Business Office Leadership Team (BOLT) a debt of gratitude for their help with this initiative.  We are currently digesting what we learned from the experiment but know already that we would like to extend several elements into the future and across the college.  The first is a new commitment on our part to make more use of the Footprints ticket system.  Read more about this in the article CIS to make more use of Footprints ticket system.

Kerry Karukstis recently announced the launch of ProfSOS (“student offered support”) which offers faculty assistance from students on specific tasks.  CIS built the ProfSOS application by linking together a number of cloud and local services.  Calvin Tong has written a nice article explaining this in more detail.  We were able to get ProfSOS up and running in a matter of hours, whereas we would have had to tell Prof Karukstis to wait for quite some time if we were going to use our internal staff and server resources to accomplish the same task.  This is one of the key benefits of the cloud computing offerings that we are taking advantage of.

UCS and virtualization
Speaking of internal staff and resources, our systems and network group has been busy since the arrival of our Unified Computing System (UCS). A UCS is basically an integrated set of servers contained in one cabinet. We are using ours to host a VMware virtualization environment. The systems and network staff set the environment up during the break and are busy converting physical servers into virtual servers. There are now eighteen production systems housed on the UCS.

Educational Technology News
Elizabeth Hodas wrote about the Spring Bite of Learning series, which has gotten off to a terrific start; lots of people attend and the discussions are lively.  Among the topics coming up this semester are presentations on collaboration with Google Apps, on classroom walls that talk and on bringing research alive with social media.

Elizabeth also wrote about a Kaltura video pilot that we are running this semester.

Network and infrastructure work
At the January Board of Trustees meeting, we provided an update on our network and infrastructure work. (In the Fall, I uploaded the September PPCPC presentation). We have completed inventory of our network equipment, which is housed in 23 locations across campus.  We will now engage a vendor to validate our inventory and help with design of a new network.  We are obtaining pricing for replacement of switches and routers (71 of them across campus) and anticipate working with BAO to develop an financial plan that will allow continuous investment in the network infrastructure.  We have identified a couple of possible locations to which we can move equipment out of our data center (in particular, we’d like to move the UCS I mentioned above) and are evaluating connectivity and costs associated with those locations. Under the auspices of CINE we are also evaluating options to increase the diversity of our internet connections with Los Nettos, our Internet Services Provider (ISP).

Email and Calendar
The email and calendar team are making steady progress on email migration from Zimbra to Google Apps.  They are currently scheduling migrations one department at a time, although they are also doing individual migrations on request.  We are finding that demand is slightly outpacing our ability to get the accounts created and the email and calendar information transferred.  Given the prevalence of Outlook as an email and calendar client in many of the administrative departments, we have decided to offer them two accounts, one in Office 365 for email and calendaring and one in Google Apps for collaborative document editing. Internally in CIS we have moved much of our document creation and editing to Google Apps and we don’t miss the days of passing different versions of Word and Excel documents around!   Read more in Cindy Abercrombie’s article Email and Calendar Project Update.

That’s quite a list of work for the first two months of the year.  Enjoy your Spring semester!

CIS to make more use of Footprints ticket system

Partly as a result of our recent BAO and CIS service initiative CIS has committed to making more effective use of the issue tracking system Numara Footprints.  This system is housed at Pomona College and is used by most of the Claremont Colleges, though each has a separate section in the database.

CIS has developed a process for working with the ticket system which identifies roles, responsibilities and the stages in the ticket life cycle. There’s a quick overview in the following slideshow.

Essentially, there are three roles and three life cycle stages. The roles are “user” (you, the customer!),  ”assignee” (members of CIS staff that do the work), and “owner” (member of CIS staff responsible for guiding the ticket through to completion).  The “owner” plays a customer advocate role to ensure that we provide the service we aspire to provide.

Why would you care about any of this? If we put issues in a ticket system they are less likely to be forgotten, and are seen by more than one pair of eyes. We will be able to track the work we do at CIS better, and build a knowledge base of solutions to common problems.  You don’t have to know the details of who does what in order to see your requests answered.  And we’ll be able to ask you for specific feedback about individual service requests.

I am very impressed with CIS staff member’s quick adoption of our process.  We’ve had a couple of “ticket squashing” pizza parties that resulted in closing large numbers of issues and, when we identified nearly 200 older tickets that did not have an owner assigned, the group pulled together to eliminate this problem in less than one day.