VP/CIO Annual Report
Part I: 2009-2010 Forecasts
In 2006, we began the process of reorganizing the IT-related critical functions around four themes:
Universities that figure out how to incorporate collaboration into their institutional DNA will be the leaders going forward. The importance of collaboration takes several forms:
- Promoting collaborative learning
- Fostering collaboration between units
- Expanding collaboration with external partners
Goal: Create an environment that supports the full range of collaborative activities of U.Va. faculty, students, and the extended UVa community.
- Enterprise Architecture While ITC and many of our peers have standard practices for computing environments, including the interface standards that they use and the software development tools that they prefer, this information is rarely communicated effectively beyond the central IT unit. The lack of documentation can lead to confusion and missed opportunities. During the coming year we will:
- document and refine our existing computing architecture standards; and
- embark on a collaborative process with key academic and administrative partners to develop an Enterprise Architecture (EA) for the University. Having an enterprise architecture in place will allow other units to leverage the various authentication and authorization middleware services that ITC makes available and provide assurance that services developed to those standards will function well at U.Va. and in the national computing environment.
- UVaCollab We will complete the transition from the Toolkit to UVaCollab as the only centrally-supported course management environment and work with SHANTI and the Course Management Faculty Advisory group to identify and integrate additional functionality and tools into the UVaCollab environment.
- Server Virtualization and Service Consolidation We will continue down a path towards broader use of virtualization technology. This will include both a greater reliance on virtualized servers and the initial implementation of some of the recommendations of the Software Solutions Beyond Labs community. The community’s focus is to make site-licensed software easily accessible to our students without the need to travel to an on-Grounds computing lab. Preliminary investigations to determine if this same or similar technology could be effectively applied to build a more supportable administrative desktop are also anticipated.
- Computing Support 2.0 We will continue to examine and implement new ways of providing computing support at U.Va. This year, we will focus on three areas:
- Successfully transitioning from separate, internally-sourced help desks supporting the Integrated System, ITC services, and the Student Information System, to a unified help desk sourced in partnership with PerceptIS (a commercial provider of help desk services);
- Transitioning the public computing labs to take advantage of student-owned computers; and
- Exploring the changing role of LSPs in light of the commoditization of help desk services and the growing need for discipline-specific support.
- Institutional Collaboration We will continue working with the Library as well as colleagues at Stanford, Hull, and Fedora Commons on the Hydra project to develop an easy-to-use client on top of a Fedora repository. The client will support the deposit and management of digital assets as well as provide a search and browse interface. The Hydra client will form the basis of many use cases here at U.Va., including library-managed content and the scholar’s repository.
With regard to the help desk transition, ITC services are scheduled for transition on August 3, 2009, with the Integrated System moving in October, 2009, and the Student Information System, moving in December, 2009. In addition to providing a central place for help desk functions, these moves will allow us to provide 24/7/365 support to the University community via email, phone, chat, and online self-service.
With regard to the public computing labs, a key ingredient to effectively leveraging student-owned computers is finding new mechanisms for delivering the specialized discipline-specific software required for coursework and undergraduate research. The first phase of public computing lab decommissioning this summer will have a minimal impact on the availability of specialized software, but we must begin testing and deploying the alternatives immediately. A community of experts from both central and departmental IT has been gathered to recommend technical implementations, communications, and support strategies. A small-scale pilot test is being designed for Fall Semester 2009, with full-scale implementation of the initial solution in the second half of the academic year. It is important to note that virtualized software delivery is a rapidly evolving technology area, so we are likely to explore and implement more than one technical solution over the next few years to take advantage of new capabilities as they are developed by both commercial and open source projects.
Finally, our exploration of new roles for LSPs will require us to work closely with the various academic and service units across Grounds and with HR—particularly around professional development.
Increasingly, faculty and students expect to live in a world in which they have access to information and tools anytime, anywhere. Our challenge is to enhance the infrastructure to allow us to meet these expectations in ways that are secure and within our financial means.
Goal: Create an environment of ubiquitous access to appropriate IT resources for all core activities.
- Improving Network Connectivity Increasing our capacity to deliver large bandwidth to researchers in a cost-effective manner remains one of the more significant challenges we face. Most research universities solve this by gaining direct access and control of fiber optic cable. Charlottesville, however, is not a fiber-rich area and we have been exploring ways to bring more fiber to U.Va. To that end, we are working with several other Virginia schools and a Virginia telecommunications cooperative to develop a proposal to access federal stimulus funds to augment the optical fiber infrastructure in Virginia. The cooperative plans to submit a proposal and build and operate a fiber-based network. The primary benefits of the augmented network would be improved access for local school systems, for general economic development in the impacted areas and, most importantly for the university, to provide the access to the fiber that we will need in order to adequately support our researchers in the future.
- Machine Room Project We will collaborate with Facilities Management to move the machine room project ahead, on time and on budget. At this point, the preliminary design for the building is complete, updated construction cost estimates are in progress, and the BOV has approved the necessary increase in budget. We expect to be able to move into the new facility during the summer of 2011.
- Research and Compliance Initiatives We will continue to collaborate with
the Office of Sponsored Projects, the Vice President for Research, and the Chief Human Resources
Officer to evaluate new applications that provide grants management support, time and effort
reporting, and Conflict of Interest reporting. Where possible, we will work with peer institutions
to evaluate the best software options and to drive down costs. In the coming year we will:
- continue to participate and evaluate the Kuali/Coeus open source application being developed by the Kuali Foundation;
- work closely with Virginia Tech to evaluate research administrative applications and explore the possibility of rolling out a set of shared services/best practices;
- complete the second year of Conflict of Interest certification with the School of Medicine; and
- work with the Associate Vice President for Research to initiate Conflict of Interest certification with the remaining research areas of the institution.
- Migrating to Voice Over IP Service Most of the university’s existing telephone system is rapidly approaching the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced with more modern technology that provides voice communications over the data network. Over the next 12 months, and in partnership with key stakeholders, ITC will evaluate and prototype various Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems including open source software, new products from firms such as Microsoft, carrier grade software switches, hosted platforms, and some of the more traditional products such as those from Cisco, Nortel, and Siemens. At the end of the evaluation period, we will provide a plan and timeline for transitioning voice services to a new infrastructure. A related effort is underway with the Medical Center to evaluate their needs, especially related to their call centers, and to chart a future for their environment.
Information—its creation, preservation, dissemination, and application—is at the core of the mission of the modern research university. As such, it is vital that the information technology environment at U.Va. be closely aligned with the academic mission and priorities of the University, fully informed by technology trends and market forces.
Goal Summary: Create new and more effective ways for faculty, students, and staff to participate as partners in creating the vision and ambition for technology-enabled teaching, learning, and research at U.Va.
- New Funding Models for Communication Services Over the past year, we have been working closely with Agency 207 and Agency 209 to adjust the ways we do cost recovery for communication services. Because many of our costs are driven more by access than by use (e.g., within broad limits, provisioning ubiquitous wireless access costs the same whether it is for one person or 10,000), we have been working to transition from a use-based fee structure to an access-based fee structure. This transition is well underway for Agency 207. Mock bills were distributed in the spring and we are scheduled to complete the move in August 2009. For Agency 209, we have delayed any changes to our fee structure while we work with them on a broad analysis of their communication needs. Until we better understand whether they have unique communication service needs, it makes little sense to go through the work necessary to implement the new funding model. We expect the analysis of their communication needs to be completed during the 2009/2010 fiscal year.
- Student Information System Integration Beginning January 1, 2010, the Student Information System (SIS) will be maintained by ISDS. Preparation for the transfer from the Student System Project to ISDS has been occurring and will continue through the end of the calendar year. Key components of the preparation include defining responsible parties for maintenance tasks, which will happen over the summer; establishing the ongoing governance structure, which will begin in June 2009; and finalizing staffing for the maintenance organization, which will take place from August (publication of the organization chart) through October (notifying staff of their roles in the new organization).
- Supporting the Computationally Intense COFU Initiatives (i.e., UVACSE and SHANTI) 2009/2010 will be a critical year for the COFU computationally-intense research and scholarship initiatives. Resources and people have been marshaled, first-year metrics have been met or exceeded, and this will be the first full year of regular operations working toward the three-year goal. It should be a year of rapid change, as the circle of engaged faculty and students expands, new experiments are tried and evaluated, external funding is pursued, and enabling infrastructure is enhanced.
The University must provide an information technology infrastructure that has a level of redundancy and resistance to threats that is appropriate for the ambitions of the University.
Goal: Ensure that the University’s information technology systems and services address emerging risks of system compromise and data exposure while continuing to move the University toward its goals.
- Strengthening and Securing Networks and Systems Although we are scheduled to complete the strengthening and hardening work that was funded through the addenda process, we must continue to invest time and resources to continually improve the security and reliability of our core systems. During the coming year we will:
- implement an improved version our authentication environment (i.e., Enhanced Netbadge);
- continue to harden core systems by distributing the infrastructure that supports them across multiple physical locations; and
- continue to deploy network intrusion prevention and intrusion detection devices.
- SSN Remediation Phase II We have made significant progress in reducing the University’s reliance upon Social Security Numbers. In the coming year, we will work to assure compliance with the University’s SSN policy based upon final remediation reports from all organizational units (due July 2009). In addition, we will begin a second phase of remediation. In the first phase, we focused on identifying where legitimate business needs justified collection of SSNs and making sure that stored SSNs meet institutional security requirements. In the second phase, we will be working to eliminate all reliance upon SSN to keep us in compliance with emerging legislative initiatives.
- Records Management During the coming year we will work with the new U.Va.
Records Management Officer to:
- Bring the staffing of the office in line with expectations and funding;
- Work collaboratively with the Medical Center to finalize and staff records management for Agency 209;
- Roll out a training program to raise awareness and develop a series of support services to facilitate compliance (e.g., searchable record retention database, electronic approval for records destruction, storage solutions, etc.);
- Work with General Counsel on eDiscovery and policy development; and
- Continue work with the Library of Virginia on new/revised record schedules to address Higher Education specific needs.
- Identity Management We are embarking on a multi-year project to redesign and renovate our identity management architecture and infrastructure. That infrastructure has grown over time to accommodate new business needs and new technologies. To move to the next level of value to the enterprise we must reexamine our assumptions and implementation, and design a new environment to meet our needs. A steering committee has been formed and has promulgated a set of guiding principles. A project team has been created and has begun an extensive set of internal stakeholder interviews and an external scan of peer institutions. The results of this first phase of the project will be complete in the fall of 2009.
- Self-Service Time and Leave Implementation We are currently working closely with the University’s Human Resources Office to implement two HR systems that will help us take advantage of the opportunities restructuring brings. The first system, a self-service time and leave system, will go live on September 14, 2009. The system replaces a paper-based time and leave system which required wage and salaried staff to fill out paper timesheets, obtain a supervisor’s approval, and have the time entered into the Integrated System by a timekeeper. The system will automate and streamline many manual processes and incorporate functionality to support the new HR Restructuring policies and operational changes. This project is being managed by ISDS, in close collaboration with its partners from University Human Resources. The second system is designed to support performance management. During the summer and fall of 2009, ISDS will work closely with University Human Resources to integrate the new Performance Management System with Oracle’s HR application. The project, which includes the implementation of vendor-hosted software, is being managed by UHR.
- Preparing for the next Oracle Upgrade Roadmap Over the summer of 2009, we will work with appropriate VPs and the IS Executive Committee to finalize the roadmap for three large projects:
- Automated Effort Reporting,
- a major upgrade of the Oracle eBusiness Suite applications, and
- implementation of Oracle’s Advanced Benefits.
- Improving Central IT Production Services If we are to capitalize on the benefits that greater centralization can bring, ISDS and ITC must be elite exemplars of production excellence for enterprise-wide services. To those ends, we will launch a long-term project to preserve the excellence that already exists and extend it to other areas of operations and services. Over the summer the VP/CIO will work with the directors of ITC and the assistant VP for ISDS to create a set of SMART goals around predictability, service levels, and communication that will cascade through performance management plans at all levels of the organizations.
Part II: 2008-2009 Milestones
In this second part, we provide a report on major milestones that marked our progress over the past year.
Goal: Create an environment that supports the full range of collaborative activities of U. Va. faculty, students, and the extended U. Va. community.
- During the coming year, we will move UVaCollab into full production and will begin transitioning users from the Toolkit to UVaCollab.
We are on schedule to retire the Toolkit to read-only mode for the Fall 2009 semester leaving Collab to be U. Va.’s only centrally-supported learning management environment. Currently, there are approximately 32,000 people using UVaCollab.
- We will continue to provide organizational support to foster cultures of collaboration within ITC and across Grounds.
Over the last year, we continued to work with organizational consultants to increase our capacity to collaborate and deal with constant change. We sponsored a series of staff workshops, often in conjunction with the Library, and provided access to individual coaching for key IT leaders. As we look ahead, our efforts in organizational development will focus on making it easier for those across Grounds to know, with confidence, where central IT services are headed in order to better ensure alignment between central and distributed IT services.
- During AY2008, we will evaluate the successes and lessons learned from the Clemons Library fourth floor and virtual loadset pilot projects. We will determine what components of those pilots can be scaled and applied to other collaborative spaces.
The new technology-rich collaboration space on the fourth floor of Clemons was placed into production early in the fall and provides a glimpse of the future of public computing sites where the emphasis is on collaboration. We are currently testing a virtual desktop software loadset in the Alderman Library public computer lab.
- We will implement a new and improved help desk structure supporting ISDS, ITC, and SSP. In the process, we will re-evaluate and clarify what we do and do not support. One of our current help desk challenges is that we tend to want to support everything. That is not possible and interferes with our ability to provide support for core systems in a timely fashion.
We have partnered with PerceptIS to provide tier 1 help desk support for ITC, IS and SIS. This move will allow us to provide enhanced help desk support without increasing our costs significantly. Implementation has begun. The ITC help desk is scheduled to transition August 1, 2009, followed by Integrated System support (October, 2009) and the SIS (December, 2009).
- We will build closer collaborations with select peer institutions around key initiatives.
We continue to concentrate collaborative efforts with Duke, the University of Michigan, and Stanford—focusing most of our efforts on digital preservation, institutional repositories, and scholarly publications. We are also working with the Research University CIO Conclave and the Common Solutions Group (two research university IT associations) to address collaboratively the challenges that come with externally sourcing essential IT services (e.g, storage, server hosting, and staff/faculty email).
- We will continue to expand the opportunity for faculty, staff and students to learn about new technology and the impact it can have on teaching and research.
Shanti and UVACSE co-hosted the third New Horizons conference, with complete integration of the Sciences & Humanities for every session. Ben Fry provided the keynote address, with over 100 people attending. Average session attendance was 70 people. In addition, the Course Management Advisory Committee and the University Committee on Information Technology are actively engaged in evaluating various classroom-based technologies.
Goal: Create an environment of ubiquitous access to appropriate IT resources for all core activities.
- In collaboration with Library staff and Fedora Commons, we have designed and initiated the next phase of the AIS, which is a project to create a Scholar’s Repository and Institutional Repository based on Fedora.
U.Va., Stanford, Hull, and Fedora Commons continue to work together to develop what is now called the Hydra client, a web-based user interface to a Fedora repository. We released an alpha version of the Hydra client in April and are working to refine and enhance it.
- We will continue membership in both Internet2 and NLR. We will continue to participate in Internet2 planning activities and will take a more active role in NLR through our membership in MATP. We will continue to pursue owned/controlled fiber as we still believe that institutions that have direct control over fiber assets will be insulated from the Internet2/NLR turmoil.
We remain actively engaged with both Internet2 and NLR. We are collaborating with Virginia Tech and ODU to put together a partnership to develop a proposal to the NTIA for stimulus funding to significantly enhance the availability of inter-city fiber optic network cabling within the commonwealth.
- Move the machine room project ahead on time and on budget. In addition, we are exploring interim machine room capacity with commercial providers in the area, both as a possible way of getting access to more fiber out of Charlottesville and as a possible solution to an acute shortage of machine room space/power.
The preliminary design for the building is complete. That design process revealed that the initial estimates for the project costs were too low. A request to increase the project budget has been approved by the Board of Visitors and we now expect to be able to move into the new facility during the summer of 2011.
- Examine, prototype, and evaluate several middle-tier storage scenarios as part of the storage architecture work.
We have developed a new architecture for mid-tier storage service (new, previously we only offered enterprise-grade premium storage) and we have proposed new, lower rates for our enterprise-grade storage. Together, these moves should enable many more departments and research groups to leverage centrally provided storage.
- We will complete the enhanced cell phone coverage project for the areas that include the stadium and the arena. We will continue to negotiate with ATT and Verizon with the goal of securing contracts that allow us to finance the extension of enhanced cell coverage to other areas of Grounds.
We are currently working with three carriers who are each paying approximately $1.5M to help us enhance on-Grounds cell phone coverage. The three that we have signed should provide sufficient capital to allow us to enhance coverage in the stadium (complete), the arena (complete), and the residence halls (in progress). We continue to identify and negotiate with other possible carriers. If we are able to sign more carriers, more of the family-plan cell phones that students arrive with will work. This system also lays the foundation for expansion into other areas if additional funding can be identified.
- We will continue to improve performance of Exchange services and we will examine the feasibility of supporting IMAP on the Exchange platform and retiring current IMAP service. We will also apply the lessons that we have learned from the rapid deployment to future service transitions.
All users have been migrated from the old Exchange system to the new fault-tolerant cluster. Some of the components of the new system are still located in a single building so full redundancy is not yet in production. The remaining components will be moved to a second location once additional cooling capacity is installed in Gilmer Hall. Completion of the cooling work is expected in October 2009. The combination of decreases in staffing and other higher priority tasks led to a decision to postpone investigating the feasibility of migrating IMAP users to Exchange. We do intend to find resources to perform this investigation in FY 2009-10 – and expand the investigation to examine other potential sourcing opportunities for IMAP email.
- Continue to enhance and integrate our emergency notification systems.
We have assisted with the proposals for and implementation of the classroom LED display boards and the new siren system and we have completed work to significantly decrease the amount of time needed to send an emergency mass email message to the university community.
- We are committed to retiring the mainframe once the new student system comes fully online and releasing the funds that maintain the mainframe back to the University.
ITC remains on track to retire the mainframe on January 3, 2011 once the new student system comes fully online. Access to historical institutional data and key mainframe-based applications are being migrated to other platforms and ITC will begin to generate savings available for institutional reallocation as early as FY 2011/2012 as contractual commitments expire. Total annual savings of approximately $985,000 are expected by the end of FY 2012/2013.
Goal: Create new and more effective ways for faculty, students, and staff to participate as partners in creating the vision and ambition for technology-enabled teaching, learning, and research at U.Va.
- Complete the communication funding model transition within Agency 207 and work with Agency 209 to determine whether the model fits their cost structures with possible transition during 2009/2010 fiscal year.
The University Budget Office processed target adjustments where appropriate in early spring. Mock bills for Agency 207 were distributed as planned, and the first billing using the new funding methodology is scheduled to occur in August, 2009. The Medical Center is planning a broader analysis of their communication needs, and we will continue to work with them to assess whether this funding methodology applies to their business needs.
- Finish migration of all student and alumni email to Google and Microsoft. Continue to look for other sourcing opportunities.
We have completed the migration of approximately 50,000 email accounts to Google and Microsoft and continue to explore other sourcing opportunities.
- We will likely see more software acquisitions move in the same direction as the Microsoft Campus Agreement and will put increased attention into site licensing possibilities.
With the completion of the student email migration and the execution of the Microsoft Campus Agreement, we continue to look for opportunities to leverage economies of scale through central licensing. Likely candidates in the coming year include imaging software that facilitates electronic record management (e.g., ImageNow) and rich media support for instruction (e.g., Adobe Connect and/or Elluminate).
- Work to better leverage the joint reporting lines of ITC, ISDS, and (forthcoming) SSP. Ensure successful implementation and smooth transition of SSP to ISDS for the production phase. Leverage the alignment of all of these units with new reporting line to Provost.
Monthly leadership meetings and bi-monthly staff meetings are now in place for the areas that report to the VP/CIO. Plans for transitioning the Student System Project to a production environment reporting to the VP/CIO are in place. The cutover will take place Jan. 1, 2010.
- Growth in the Computational Science and Digital Humanities initiatives to be measured by COFU metrics.
The COFU-sponsored Center for Computationally-Intense Research and Scholarship was launched in the fall of 2008 and is on target to meet all of its first year metrics. This center, designed to provide technical assistance and promote a culture around computationally-intense inquiry, has two subgroups each with their own faculty governance structure: the Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (a.k.a., SHANTI and formerly the center for digital humanities); and the University of Virginia Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering (a.k.a., UVACSE and formerly the center for computational science).
Goal: Ensure that the University’s information technology systems and services address emerging risks of system compromise and data exposure while continuing to move the University toward its goals.
- We expect to have the testing environment operational by Fall 2008. The first system to be
tested will be NetBadge and its interface to the new Student System.
The Performance Testing Environment was implemented in the Fall of 2008. ITC is currently setting up performance testing for the new time and attendance reporting system, NetBadge using the new student system logins, and the Student Information System.
- We will continue working with units to eliminate use of SSN except where required by law.
Plans to eliminate non-essential uses of SSN were due in July 2008 and must be implemented no later than June 30, 2009. In addition, work has begun to establish a significantly enhanced university-wide records management office, which will provide guidance to departments on secure retention and disposal of paper and electronic records. An experienced records management officer was hired in October 2008 and development of an education program is underway.
- We will continue to strengthen the security of our networks.
A new VPN infrastructure is in production, Nitro Security equipment is in production protecting the Student System, the network setup tool is being enhanced to automate digital certificate management and installation, and an updated tool automates portions of the iKey setup process and provides new diagnostics that allow us to repair certain rare but painful error conditions.
- Harden our virtualization infrastructure across two physical locations. This work should provide greater reliability for the growing number of virtualized services.
The key components of the infrastructure hardening project are on track and largely completed. We have, however, experienced unanticipated delays with the project to add the cooling in Gilmer Hall that is needed to complete the project. This cooling is now expected to be ready in early October which will put the overall project a little over one month behind our target completion date.
- During FY 2008-09 we will work towards increasing the percentage of people at the university who have completed Identity Proofing and who set their security questions associated with NetBadge. We will also identify a long-term solution for Identity Proofing in the academic portions of the Health System.
We completed a process to notify students who had not yet completed their whole identity proofing and have made the process easier. In conjunction with the Student System project group, we decided not to implement the new flavor of NetBadge until after the start of the fall 2009 semester. There are many other changes in progress and we are concerned that we risk adding additional confusion into the process. We continue to work on a long-term solution for the academic portions of the Health System.