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 mailbox-01.hmc.edu by the end of June (Mailbox-02.hmc.edu 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 (g.hmc.edu) 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 helpdesk@hmc.edu to request one.

Sakai
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 http://apps.facebook.com/harveymudd
It’s promising to be a lively summer.  Come back to this news site for updates. Enjoy!

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