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Virginia H. Evans

Virginia H. Evans

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P.O. Box 400217
Suite 116
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4217

Phone:
434-982-2249
Fax:
434-924-3579
Email:
Arlene Buynak

VP/CIO Annual Report

This year's report is again organized around the four themes that drive our critical functions:

In the first part of the report, we provide a brief review of each theme and identify the challenges and strategies that lie ahead. In the second part, we report on major milestones that marked our progress over the past year.

Part I: 2010-2011 Forecasts

Collaboration

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 U.Va. community.

2010-2011 Forecasts

  • Enterprise Architecture   While ITC and many of the schools at U.Va. have standard practices for their computing environments, including the interface standards that they use and the software development tools that they prefer, this information is only rarely communicated effectively beyond the unit. The lack of documentation can lead to confusion and missed opportunities. During the coming year we plan to:
    • Update the ITC architecture documents using the new Wiki-based system and publicize those documents so that they can be used at the departmental level.
    • Using ITC documentation as a starting point, work with the Dean's Technology Council to embark on a collaborative process to develop an Enterprise Architecture (EA) for the University.
    • Having the EA in place will enable developers to leverage the architecture and be assured that their applications will function well in U.Va. and national computing environments.
  • A Multi-institutional Experiment in Cloud Provisioning   Increasingly, commodity services are run most efficiently at very large scales. These services are typically characterized by large infrastructure costs and low marginal use costs. By aggregating demand for these services across multiple institutions, it should be possible to drive the operational costs per user significantly lower than they are likely to be for a single institution, accelerate the adoption of common standards, and increase interoperability and associated capacity for collaboration between institutions. To these ends, we will participate in two “cloud” experiments. The first, done in partnership with Internet2 and a dozen institutions, seeks to acquire cloud-based storage and compute cycles at scale. The second, done in partnership with members of the Common Solutions Group, seeks to issue a joint RFP for cloud-based email, calendar, and messaging services. We expect to learn a lot about the economics and feasibility of cloud-based approaches through both experiments.

Access

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.

2010-2011 Forecasts

  • Begin Pilots of the Advanced Virtual Desktop   We will continue down the path towards broader use of virtualization technology in our computing environment. Our focus last year was the deployment of this technology to enable easy access to the software applications that had been previously only available by travelling to one of ITC's computer labs. This year's development focus will be to apply virtualization technology to meet the needs of the traditional office desktop computer. Virtualization, if successful in this environment, should enable enhanced security, enhanced reliability, and thus decreased support workload, and also provide users with access to their work from a broader range of platforms and locations.
  • Improving Network Connectivity   We continue to work towards a network infrastructure that includes University control over a direct fiber optic path to the major networking hubs in the Northern Virginia area. With direct access to fiber optic cable we will be able to cost-effectively meet the needs of our researchers, position the University to be better able to leverage cloud-based services, and expand the reliability and capacity of our Internet connection. We have learned of plans for the installation of new fiber optic cable into the Charlottesville area and have included the acquisition of fiber in our voice services RFP.
  • Machine Room Project   The Machine Room building construction project has broken ground and we expect to start to move into the new facility by the summer of 2011. We have established a group of stakeholders from schools and departments across the University to develop a set of rules and operating practices for direct departmental use of the facility. These rules and practices will ensure that departments are able to easily leverage the facility to host their servers and IT services.
  • Modernizing the University's Voice Communications Infrastructure   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. We have invested significant time in discussions with key stakeholders, peers at other institutions, vendors, and service providers over the past 12 months and have developed an RFP to procure the new system. Our goal is to complete enough of the procurement process that we will have our direction established and our key vendor chosen by the end of the first semester. If the process goes well, we will start pilots in specific areas during the second half of the fiscal year.

Alignment

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.

2010-2011 Forecasts

  • Supporting Computationally-Intense Research, Scholarship, and Artistic Expression   Research across virtually all disciplines is becoming more dependent upon computation and data. Indeed, there is a very real sense in which the tools of advanced computation and data management are changing the basic fabric of inquiry. Technology allows new questions and new looks at old answers. Over the last two years, we have begun addressing these needs through COFU-funded initiatives in the sciences and engineering (i.e., UVACSE) and in the humanities and social sciences (i.e., SHANTI). Both of these initiatives have been successful at creating a growing culture around advanced technology-enabled scholarship. Finding ways to sustain and increase our capacity in these areas, particularly as the COFU funding comes up for review, will be a key challenge going forward. We must find ways to sustain and support the progress that we have made via the COFU funding.
  • Re-tooling the IT Advisory Structure   In the coming year we will re-align the IT advisory structure to take better advantage of the different interests and expertise that faculty, staff, and students bring to technology planning. The goal is to concentrate faculty and student advice in areas that touch teaching, learning, and research directly and to concentrate advice from IT staff across Grounds on architecture planning and technical implementation. Given the interdependencies, there will be some overlap between advisory groups, but the goal is to let each group lead where they have interest and expertise.

Securing and Improving Core Enterprise Services

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.

2010-2011 Forecasts

  • SSN Remediation Phase II   Through the SSN Remediation Initiative, the University has made great strides in reducing its risk of security breaches that expose Social Security numbers. Departmental use of SSNs continues to decline and is confined to instances where the use is approved and SSNs are no longer used as frontline identifiers in University systems. Despite this progress, we must continue to reduce institutional risk and move toward a SSN-free environment. To those ends, we will work to ensure that new uses of SSNs and other highly sensitive data do not enter University business processes unless forced by new legal requirements and that all security standards for handling these data continue to be met.
  • Records Management   We will continue to develop and expand the reach of the University Records Management Program. In the year ahead, we will roll out a University Records Management Application (URMA) to inventory and track all records, assist in documentation destruction, and allow for easier location of records when addressing FOIA and Discovery requests. We will also establish a network of departmental records management coordinators and administrators to work with the Records Management Office to ensure compliance and consistency with retention and disposition schedules. We will also implement a revised records management policy and evaluate and implement more cost-effective solutions for secure managed physical storage. Finally, we will continue to work with Agency 209 to leverage these activities across the University.
  • Identity Management   We have embarked on a multi-year effort to revamp our Identity Management infrastructure to better accommodate new needs and support emerging technologies and federations developing in higher education. During the initial period of our activity we formed a steering committee, developed a set of guiding principles, and conducted extensive interviews with both internal stakeholders and external peers. This review process helped guide our work to begin the task of developing a University-wide policy on Identity Management, highlighted some existing pain points related to guest access that could be addressed quickly, and focused our attention on the highly fragmented way that individuals enter University systems and in how many different systems people have to maintain their data. Our primary initiative for the coming year will be to clearly define and start to implement a new architecture that uses common mechanisms to incorporate new individuals into the electronic University community and establishes a single repository for the maintenance of common data, roles, and authorizations about the individuals affiliated with the University.
  • Oracle Upgrade   Oracle HR and Financial applications will be upgraded from version 11.5.10 to Release 12.1 in a project that will officially start in August 2010 and will go live in May 2011. In addition to the applications upgrade, the database will be upgraded from 10g to 11g and there will be a full hardware replacement.
  • Student Information System (SIS) Stabilization   The SIS continues to require significant work to ensure it is stabilized post-project end on December 31, 2009. Major areas of focus for this fiscal year are: ensuring processes work well the first time we do them (including summer session enrollment and billing, implementation of direct loans, new online applications for SCPS and the Batten School); re-engineering departmental aid and supporting new processes with changes to the SIS; ensuring that academic requirements become more automated by May 2011 (through better transfer credit and exception entry into SIS); streamlining graduate admissions—from access to finding ways to work better with three systems (CRM, AY, SIS); and continuing to evaluate and implement justified changes to the system.
  • 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 have launched a long-term project to preserve the excellence that already exists and extend it to other areas of operations and services. We have created a set of SMART goals around predictability, service levels, and communication that cascade through performance management plans at all levels of the organization. In the year ahead, we will continue to incorporate our goals of predictability, availability, and transparency in our goal structure.

Part II: 2009-2010 Milestones

Collaboration

Goal: Create an environment that supports the full range of collaborative activities of U.Va. faculty, students, and the extended U.Va. community.

2009-2010 Milestones

  • 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.
    • Completed transition from the Toolkit to UVaCollab on schedule. The Open Source Portfolio (OSP) tools are installed but not currently supported. Completed a major upgrade of UVaCollab to Sakai 2.6.2. Currently implementing a suite of four new teaching tools, a new user interface, and an activity-driven course delivery interface that were identified by advisory groups as having highest priority.
  • Enterprise Architecture   A well publicized overall IT architecture facilitates interoperability, collaborative planning, and guides technology choices. During the coming year we will
    1. document and refine our existing computing architecture standards; and
    2. embark on a collaborative process with key academic and administrative partners to develop an Enterprise Architecture (EA) for the University.
    • The major components of our Enterprise Architecture (EA) are documented online in our new Wiki-based documentation system. Managing the EA in this system will enable us to directly link portions of the architecture to the documentation for matching production services. The next phase of this project is to expand the level of detail in parts of the EA and start a process with the Dean's Technology Council to review and modify the EA as appropriate to meet the needs of the schools and departments.
  • Server Virtualization and Service Consolidation   We will continue down a path towards broader use of virtualization technology.
    • After a small initial pilot test in Fall 2009, we conducted a significantly larger pilot test with a different implementation of application virtualization technologies during Spring 2010. That pilot was very successful, both from a systems and support perspective, and from a user experience perspective. Plans are underway to offer this implementation as a production service starting in AY (Academic Year) 2010-11.
  • Computing Support 2.0   We will continue to examine and implement new ways of providing computing support at U.Va.
    • The unified help desk (sourced in partnership with PerceptIS) was implemented successfully across three services (ITC, Integrated System, and Student Information System). Fourteen of the 17 public labs have been closed, reducing the number of available seats from 349 to 197. In Spring 2010, ITC successfully piloted the Hive, a virtual distribution of specialized software thus making the software available from any location and not tied to a lab location.
  • Institutional Collaboration   Continue working with the Library as well as Stanford, Hull, and Fedora Commons on the Hydra project to develop a GUI client on top of a Fedora repository. The client will support the deposit and management of digital assets, and provide a search-and-browse interface. The Hydra client will form the basis of many use cases here at U.Va. such as library-managed content and the scholar's repository.
    • The collaboration is going well. The three university partners (U.Va., Stanford, and Hull) have now deployed applications that address five different use cases. U.Va.'s first Hydra-based application is a digital library discovery application that provides faceted browsing (a technology that facilitates filtering search results) and searching across the combined assets in its online catalogue and its digital object repository.

Access

Goal: Create an environment of ubiquitous access to appropriate IT resources for all core activities.

2009-2010 Milestones

  • Improving Network Connectivity   Work 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.
    • Our commercial partner for a NTIA stimulus proposal lost a key backer for the project shortly before the proposal due date. The loss of this backer meant that the proposal was not viable so it was not submitted. Our commercial partner was unable to secure sufficient interest to make a second round submission for stimulus funding practical. In the interim we have learned that a different firm is working to develop a project that would bring fiber into Charlottesville. Our telephone system replacement RFP includes a section to enable us to acquire fiber from this or other firms.
  • Machine Room Project   We will collaborate with Facilities Management to move the machine room project ahead on time and on budget.
    • Contract negotiations are complete and the new data center facility is presently under construction. The construction timeline matches our summer 2011 expected occupancy date.
  • Research and Compliance Initiatives   We will continue to collaborate with the Office of Sponsored Projects, the Vice President for Research, and the Chief Human Resource Officer to evaluate new applications that provide grants management support, time and effort reporting, and conflict of interest reporting.
    • U.Va. continues to be a member of the Kuali Foundation and to monitor a new release of the Kuali Coeus Research Management software. To date, version 2.0 has just been released and no institution has gone to a production mode with either version 1.0 or 2.0. U.Va. has also become a member of the Coeus Foundation and is committed to bringing up a test instance of this software. The goal is to have an operational test instance of the latest release of COEUS functional by the first quarter of 2011 and to have grant submissions by two departments of the School of Medicine. If successful, the next step would be to create a business case for moving to a production instance of COEUS with the understanding that Kuali COEUS and COEUS will merge into one product in the next two years.
  • Mainframe Retirement and ADS Group Transition   We remain on target to retire the mainframe once the new student system comes fully online. As we transition the ITC Applications and Data Services (ADS) group away from mainframe support, we will be implementing new services with corresponding support models. Specifically, we will:
    1. increase the volume of our fee-based application development work;
    2. expand grant-funded technology development;
    3. where it makes economic and strategic sense, participate in multi-institution application development (e.g., Kuali grants management); and
    4. expand our application performance testing services.
    In the coming year, we will use the testing service to stress test the new HR Time and Attendance application, the new version of NetBadge, and the Student Information System (SIS).
    • The decommissioning of the mainframe was completed in May 2010. The transition of the ADS group is also successfully completed with a number of institutional initiatives underway, including a new Web-based Advanced Benefits application, working with ISDS on implementation of the Web services component for an improved Web-based real-time Effort Reporting application, and work on an Academic Discipline Search Engine.
  • Migrating to Voice Over IP Service   Over the next 12 months, and in partnership with key stakeholders, ITC will evaluate and prototype various Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems. At the end of the evaluation period, we will provide a plan and timeline for transitioning voice services to a new infrastructure.
    • Via a process of prototyping some VoIP systems, talking with our key stakeholder groups, and having discussions with vendors and peers at other universities, we have developed an RFP for U.Va.'s next generation voice platform. We are presently establishing the committees to assist with the evaluation process and expect to have the RFP issued around the end of the fiscal year. Our goal is to have the RFP process substantially completed before the start of the spring semester.

Alignment

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.

2009-2010 Milestones

  • New Funding Models 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.
    • Agency 207 has transitioned fully to the new model. Discussion and analysis with Agency 209 continues and is closely related to the VoIP strategy that we adopt.
  • Student Information System Integration   Beginning January 1, 2010, the Student Information System (SIS) will be maintained by ISDS.
    • The reporting lines changed as planned on January 1 and we have completed the transition from “project” status to ongoing maintenance and production.
  • Supporting the Computationally-Intense COFU Initiatives (UVACSE and SHANTI)   2009/2010 will be a critical year for the COFU computationally-intense research and scholarship initiatives. 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.
    • Faculty and student participation has increased: the number of applications for the first year of SHANTI's Cohort program substantially exceeded expectations; over 300 faculty, staff, and students attended UVACSE's short courses in September; and assistance has been provided to ten new Tiger Team projects. During Spring 2010, 60 grad students enrolled in a new for-credit course (CS6501, Computation as a Research Tool) for formal training in using computational modeling and simulation in their research. On the funding front, one big project has been assisted in moving from local resources to the Teragrid (a national resource). SHANTI has made available four new community-selected digital tools supporting online scholarship.

Securing and Improving Core Enterprise Services

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.

2009-2010 Milestones

  • Strengthening and Securing Networks and Systems   During the coming year we will:
    1. implement an improved version our authentication environment (i.e., NetBadge 2);
    2. continue to harden core systems by distributing the infrastructure that supports them across multiple physical locations; and
    3. continue to deploy network intrusion prevention and intrusion detection devices.
    • The initial deployment of the enhanced version of NetBadge has been placed on hold while we re-evaluate security and ease of use trade-offs and work through the impact of some product changes on our initial deployment platform. Facilities Management completed the installation of additional cooling in our Gilmer Hall location. The additional cooling enabled equipment installation for cross-location hardening of storage for library services, and for servers for directory infrastructure, Identity Management, and authentication systems (NetBadge and Shibboleth). Intrusion prevention hardware is now operational and helping to protect the Student Information System, Oracle, and the main Identity Management System.
  • SSN Remediation Phase II   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 aimed at the complete elimination of our institutional reliance upon SSN.
    • The deadline for all University units to complete their SSN remediation efforts is July 1, 2010. We are in the process of tracking their progress. Phase II planning will not be completed until Phase I has concluded.
  • Records Management   During the coming year we will work with the new U.Va. Records Management Officer to:
    1. bring the staffing of the office in line with expectations and funding;
    2. work collaboratively with the Medical Center to finalize and staff records management for Agency 209;
    3. roll out a training program and a series of support services to facilitate compliance;
    4. work with General Counsel on eDiscovery and policy development; and
    5. continue work with the Library of Virginia on new/revised record schedules to address Higher Education specific needs.
    • This year we continued our rapid build-out of a comprehensive University Records Management Program. To date over 1,000 employees have received formal training on a variety of records management topics and on-site departmental training sessions have numbered over 42. Through several Records Management Day events staged across Grounds, 14.5 tons of paper records, in addition to electronic records stored on backup tapes, diskettes, CDs, etc., were securely destroyed.
  • 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.
    • We have completed the first phase of the project, including internal stakeholder interviews and external benchmarking. We are proceeding to the second phase, in which we will create action plans and timelines for attacking the most critical operational, infrastructure, and policy changes needed to move us forward.
  • Self-Service Time and Leave Implementation   We will work closely with the University's Human Resource Office (UHR) to implement Self-Service Time and Leave and a new Performance Management system, both to be available online.
    • Self-Service Time and Leave (SSTL) was implemented on time in September and under budget; ratings and comments on SSTL from the annual user survey done in Spring 2010 were positive. The Performance Management system was rolled out by UHR, with appropriate integration to the Integrated System.
  • 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.
    • The Roadmap for the next three years has been finalized and funded. Automated Effort Reporting will be done in a phased approach, with the first two phases complete in September 2010 and scheduled for an October rollout. The R12 upgrade will begin in August 2010 and go live in May 2011. Phase 3 of Automated Effort Reporting will be done after the upgrade and will be available in August 2011. The Advanced Benefits implementation will begin in July 2011 and will go live in August 2012.
  • 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.
    • We have created a set of overall goals for the Office of the VP/CIO. The directors of ITC and ISDS have worked to propagate those goals down through the SMART goals process so that every employee in the organization has goals that relate to the overall goals. We are entering the second year of that process.