Summer 2013 Update from the CIO

Welcome (back) to all!

2013 was one of the busiest summers ever for CIS, with a large number of projects and a summerheavy stream of upgrades and improvements. In this message I will cover some of the things we got done.

Shanahan Center
The Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning is now up and running! We have a high speed network and all digital AV systems.  We have purchased additional laptops (dual boot Macbook Air) for our pool and will be providing laptops to the faculty that requested them for their classes.  On a daily basis, we will have staff in what we’ve been calling the “pop up store” beside the Living Room (in the cafe).  There’s a printer there with a print release station and, as we watch what traffic patterns are like in the new building, we anticipate that we may have more technology and/or more people in that space.

Please note that the wall phones in each classroom can be used to dial the help desk at 77777 (just don’t use the big red emergency button with that intention!).  So if you need quick delivery of a cable or are having difficulty getting something working, don’t hesitate to call us.  The room number is on each phone, so you can quickly tell us where you are.

Rooms 2450 and 2454 are “technology rich classrooms”.  For the moment, that just means that they form part of the suite of classrooms in which simulcasting (high definition between room videoconferencing) can take place.  But we plan to take the same approach with these rooms as we did with the Learning Studio Classroom: they are intended to be experimental spaces where we try out new technologies to see what might work for general deployment.  A great example of this approach is Lecture Capture, where we took time to get experience in the Learning Studio Classroom before making the purchase that Elizabeth Hodas has written about in her article on Lecture Capture in the Teaching and Learning Building.

We look forward to enjoying this wonderful new building with you.

New focus in User Support
We have begun slowly rolling out a new model of support in the User Support Group. The old model was built on the idea of a dedicated person for a department or group of departments. We have now switched to a model in which a team of people provide support as service requests or incident reports come in, independent of the source. We try to match expertise with the need and we are building a common body of knowledge across the really great team of people that make up the user support group: Beverly Kelley, Pete Sanchez, Travis Gomez, Corey LeBlanc and Robert Kingston.  To reflect this change in approach we have dropped “departmental” from their titles: they are now all Technical Analysts (TAs).  The User Support program is being run by Cindy Abercrombie, whom you can contact with feedback or questions.

New faces at CIS
In early August we hired two new people in CIS.  Gerald Reyes came across the street from Scripps College to work in our data services unit, where he will be focusing on the JICS portal.  Robert Kingston came to join the User Support team from a position at Apple Computer, where he managed the Apple brand within a Best Buy store.  I was delighted with the strong applicant pool that we received for both positions and congratulate Susan Selhorst and Cindy Abercrombie on astute hiring decisions.  Susan has written more about Gerald and Cindy has written more about Robert.

This is a good place to include a shout out for the HMC students who took up employment with us over the summer: Cindy Angpraseuth, George Aspesi, Andrew Michaud, James Saindon and Eric Storm.  Between them they tackled 37 projects this summer, leaving us in much better state than they found us.

Identity and Access Management
Over the summer we worked with Fischer International to put the finishing touches to a sixty-two page functional requirements document for the third phase of our Identity and Access Management (IAM@HMC) initiative.  This phase will include improvements to the password management kiosk, and put in place an automated account creation and deletion process for several of the systems we manage.  It will also bring the Portal and Office365 into the single sign on bundle, meaning you will no longer have to login multiple times as you move between the Portal, Ultipro, Google Apps and Office365.  We anticipate moving into the testing phase of this project in the next month or so, with roll out scheduled for the late Fall.  As part of the roll out we will be asking you to use the IAM kiosk to synchronize your passwords and set (or reset) your security questions.  More on that in future updates from the CIO.

Portal Advisory Group
Registrar Mark Ashley has been working with Susan Selhorst over the summer to refine the list of projects that we wish to undertake to improve the Portal. While Susan was conducting the search that resulted in the hire of Gerald Reyes, she was also directing the work of a contractor from Jenzabar, who managed to “take out” a number of the portal issues that we had identified.  Early in the Fall, Mark and Susan will bring a list of projects for prioritization by the Portal Advisory Group.

Network Infrastructure
During the summer months we made a number of changes and upgrades that affected the network:

  • New conduit was laid under Platt boulevard which will enable us to provide network diversity for the Shanahan Center and reduce risk for Kingston, Hoch-Shanahan and points east.
  • As part of the Olin vacated space plan, we put in upgrades to support higher access speeds for the Beckman Server room.
  • We upgraded the network equipment in Olin.
  • We upgraded wireless in Beckman 126.
  • We are in the process of upgrading wireless in Case, North and South dorms.

More to come
The pace of change in technology is, as always, breakneck.  So we anticipate more changes during the Fall.  Our Office365 suite will be upgraded by Microsoft.  The company has notified us that it will happen over the next four weeks and we are gathering more information to get you the details.  This change will primarily affect staff.

We anticipate completing more network upgrades in the Academic Buildings and will be working closely with F&M to plan for the Parsons vacated space activity.

That’s probably enough for now. Everyone in CIS is happy to see you and we wish you a great Fall semester.  As always, we rely on you to give us honest feedback and let us know what is working well, what needs improvement and what’s not working at all.



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