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.


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