November 2010 update from the CIO

Tempus fugit. And here we are with only 168 hours to go until the end of classes!

I will keep the November update brief.

First, a word about a big non-event.  On November 1st a CalTrans crew used a pile-driver and put a fifty foot beam through AT&T’s conduit at Mission Blvd by Highway 71 in Pomona.   You might wonder what that had to do with us.  It broke AT&T’s optical fiber connection that we rely on to connect us to the internet.  Fortunately, a few years ago, CINE (and Roger Wiechman in particular) worked with Los Nettos to get us a backup circuit through Time Warner.  The backup circuit worked as planned, and we saw no interruption of internet connectivity.   HMC is the “lead college” for CINE (which stands for “Claremont Intercollegiate Network Effort”) for the Claremont Colleges, and as such we work closely with Los Nettos, a regional networking consortium based at USC. Collectively the Colleges are budgeting to spend $469,o00 in 2011-12 on CINE and provision of internet access, with HMC’s share being about $70,000. As you’ll recall, improving infrastructure is one of our four strategic areas, and I think this is a good example of great work in that area.

On November 19, we celebrated the opening of the Learning Studio in Sprague. We enjoyed it and, judging by the number of people who asked if we would do this more often, you did too. You’ll find some pictures here: If you saw the demonstration of Vidyo’s video conferencing solution and have comments about it, please contact me.

I spent a good deal of time on Email and Calendar in November.  It now seems to me that the best thing for us to do is contract with both Google and Microsoft for their free email and calendar services, and we are currently exploring the implications of that decision.  For the many who already use Google’s consumer offering, we will simply be making it easier to handle their HMC mail, removing the advertising that is part of the consumer offering and, through the contract, obtaining better legal footing, especially with respect to FERPA.  For many more, we will be able to ensure a good experience with the Outlook calendar client, as well as better integration between Microsoft desktop products and their web based office products.  As I wrote in my October update, there is still much to do, so, again, expect more messages on this one.   As a reminder, we do have test systems set up with both Google Apps and Microsoft Live, and if you’d like to have a test account, please drop me a line.

Students, some of you will be aware of the Dreamspark program, which allows you to obtain free copies of software like Microsoft Visual Studio Professional.  We are currently working with the company to establish a mechanism for them to verify student status at Harvey Mudd.  As soon as that’s in place, we’ll let you know.

The Computing Committee discussed IT decision making and governance this month.  I presented a draft proposal for improving decision making at HMC, and they gave me lots of feedback.  The Cabinet did too.  I’m working on a new version, but preserving the central features of the proposal: agility, make good use of  existing committees, no centralization of decision making but a “decision support service” to help people quickly work through the considerations that anyone making a significant IT decision needs to address. Watch for more news on this in the new year.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Good luck with what’s left of the semester and best wishes for the holidays from all at CIS.

Joseph Vaughan

CIO/VP for Computing and Information Services

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