April 2011 update from the CIO

April, with its build up to the end of the Spring semester, is always a cruel and hectic month.  Now that May is here, and those wonderful Projects and Presentation days are behind us, you may have time to read this brief update.

New Directors
Two new Directors, Cindy Abercrombie and Mitch Shacklett, joined CIS at the start of May.  Mitch will  oversee systems and network; Cindy will lead IT Projects and Planning.  Read more at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1163.

Vulnerability Scanning
We did two waves of vulnerability scanning in April, which gave us a good indication of where the servers are on the network.  We are now analyzing that data and will be getting in touch with the managers of those servers to arrange deeper vulnerability scanning.  We also met with representatives of Moss Adams, the College’s financial auditors, who visit every year to examine IT controls.  The visit went well, and we anticipate a report that lists fewer IT control issues this year.  Moss Adams IT will be doing some penetration testing of important systems during the summer (this service is part of the contract with them).  At around the same time, the Computing Committee and the Presidents Cabinet approved drafts of a new password policy for the College. It is under review by the FEC at the moment.  Shout-outs to Timothy Buccheim and Claire Connelly for excellent suggestions for improvements to the draft.

Art in the Learning Studio
Early in the Spring semester, we sent out a call for student art that could be displayed in the Learning Studio.  Students submitted the art really quickly, but I had a hard time finding someone to curate the works.  We finally found someone, and the paintings are on display in time for Commencement.  Please drop by the Learning Studio to see them.  You can read who the artists are at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1175.  If you have ideas for future displays, please get in touch with either me or Elizabeth Hodas.

Faculty Meeting
The CIS Management Team, along with Eliot Bush, chair of the Computing Committee, gave presentations at the April Faculty meeting. Elizabeth Hodas wrote about it at  http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1116).  We got some great feedback and encouragement. We were also challenged to provide  more specific data about the number of new services and their quality, as well as information about the use of the ticket system, so we will provide that kind of data on the IT Planning website as well as in future news articles.  Afterwards I got some feedback that led me to believe that my comment about the percent of change may have been misunderstood. Here’s the full story. When the WASC team was here last year, one of them said to me “It is hard to give a timeline when you are going through organizational change, but what about a percentage…are you 10% there, 50% …?”.  I responded that we were about 15% of the way.  The following week I asked the CIS staff the same question, and asked them to write their answer on a piece of paper. The most common response was 25%.  I alluded to this at the Faculty meeting, and said that I think we are now about 20% along the way.  But what does that mean?  Well, it is my job to be out in front with a vision of where we are going and to imagine the targets for change.  But that has to be tempered by the reality that it is hard to bring lasting cultural change to an organization.  Hence the percentage.  But I would be the first to agree that there is room for us to do better at articulating where we are headed and providing hard evidence of our progress toward those goals.

Backing up your data
Do you have a data backup strategy for your home PC and your laptop (or, for that matter, the important data on your HMC workstation)?  If that is one of those questions that make you wish to whistle in the dark, then you would have felt a lot better after Calvin Tong’s Bite of Learning presentation.  Calvin has written it up, with a link to his slides at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1102

Wishing you all the best for finals (seniors, congrats on having finished!) and Commencement.

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