July and August 2011 update from the CIO

Welcome back everyone!

This is a combined update from July and August. At CIS we’ve had a very busy summer, and now we’re looking forward to the Fall.

Projects nearing completion
Here’s a brief update on just a few of the projects we’ve worked on over the summer.

  • Admission Online Reading Application.  In collaboration with the Claremont University Consortium (CUC), Admissions Lab (maker of the recruitment software that HMC Office of Admission uses) and Hyland (maker of  OnBase document management software), we have been working to develop an online application reading system for Admission.  Rather than printing out and toting around thousands of admission applications, the Admission staff will be able to read and track everything using this new software.  The project is on track to have the software available in time for the Early Decision 1 season.
  • Temporary Classrooms.  We have completed the installation of projectors and screens in all of the temporary classrooms.  Wireless access points and networking equipment have also been installed in the North and South modular classrooms on Dartmouth.
  • Digital Signage in Hoch-Shanahan.  A cross-functional team led by Miguel Ruvalcaba has been working on Digital Signage for the dining area.  You’ll notice a difference when you go there.  Phase 1 has been completed, with Phase 2 on the way.  The signs are controlled by software from FourWinds Interactive, which was licensed jointly by the Claremont Colleges about 18 months ago.
  • Sakai data synchronization with CX.  A couple of weeks ago, we made changes to the server architecture that allow us to update Sakai from CX more frequently than once a day.  Changes made in CX (student add and drops for example) are now synchronized on Sakai at 2am, 12:30pm and 5:30pm every day.

Projects in the pipeline
As I mentioned in my June update, the CIS Management Team has been working on sorting through goals and priorities for the coming year.  We’ve identified a large number of projects that we need to keep on our chessboard of projects, and have been developing ways to track and report on them.  There are 31 projects in our current list (and we know that not everything has been captured!).  Here’s a small sample.

  • Measure DTA Program Improvement.  We announced a new Departmental Technology Analyst (DTA) program in the Spring. One of the goals was to improve the quality of our service by dedicating staff to individual departments, while at the same time ensuring that each staff member is supported by the DTA team.  Now we’re facing the question of how to measure and report on progress. We want meaningful measures that will reflect real user experience.  Calvin Tong is the owner of this project.
  • Server Rationalization. Mitch Shacklett, Director of Systems and Network, will be leading a project to rationalize our collection of servers.  His team will focus on how we might reduce the variety of operating system versions we are using, and on ways to consolidate servers (for example, we have multiple instances of database servers such as MySQL and Microsoft SQL).  This project will go hand in hand with a push to virtualize the vast majority of our servers using VMWare.
  • Equipment loan self-service.  Hopefully, everyone knows that we operate an equipment loan program at the Help Desk. Laptops, projectors, LCD screens, iPads and netbooks are among the equipment we have for short (and even fairly long) term loan.  We would like to create a website that allows for a significant degree of self-service, tracking availability of equipment and allowing people to reserve equipment.
  • OCA database.  The Office of College Advancement is facing a decision about the database they will use going into campaign.  For this project, CIS will play a decision support role to Dan Macaluso, VP Advancement, helping to identify the technical pros and cons of each option, as well as the data integration challenges.  Currently OCA uses Jenzabar CX for this purpose.  However, Jenzabar is rolling out a new product that is significantly different from the current product, both at the user interface and in the underlying technology.  That’s why we’re at a choice point.

Email and Calendar Migration
The Email and Calendar migration team has been steadily working on migrating all students off the mailbox-02 server.  The team created 1,604 active Google Apps accounts. There are currently three accounts remaining on mailbox-02.  They moved 12,667,248 messages, which consumed 578.4 gigabytes from mailbox-02. The Help Desk received only 35 support requests related to the mail migration.  (See https://sites.google.com/a/g.hmc.edu/google-apps-for-hmc/ for more details).

The team will slow down a little for the next few weeks as the start of the semester pulls them away to other duties.  Their next steps will be to retire email accounts on the servers named Thuban and Odin.  Then, they’ll develop a  plan for mailbox-01.  With the experience of mailbox-02 in hand, the team will revisit the pros and cons of the dual provider strategy that I advocated (Google and Microsoft).  The pros and cons keep changing, as Google and Microsoft make changes in their offerings. So you can expect more updates on this one.

Bite of Learning
We have a great slate of topics for the Fall Bite of Learning series, which kicks off on September 19 with an update on Learnstream by Camille Marvin ’13 and Ryan Muller ’12.   This year we’ve got sessions on different days of the week, so that if you have a regular lunch appointment you won’t have to miss out on all of the sessions.  Read about them at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1513

Fall Reminders
There are lots of little details to remember as you get back into the swing of classes. Calvin put together a list of reminders, which you can find on our news site.

Everyone at CIS wishes you the very best for a happy and successful Fall semester.

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