Information Technology Updates: March 2021
Over the past five weeks, our work on the IT Shared Services model has revolved around the participatory discovery and build process emphasized when we launched in January. This is an important step as we strive to prove a consistent foundation of IT services to all members of the UVM community. As part of this work, we have identified specific areas of focus and converted them into individual tasks or projects. Further detail is copied below.
Review of IT Service Catalog
An ongoing review of the institutional IT service portfolio is underway, and we continue to seek feedback from key stakeholders on how to improve the overarching IT Service Catalog. Most recently, OneDrive has been added as the institutionally supported Cloud storage platform, which is fully integrated into our suite of Microsoft service.
Services not Aligned with IT Service Catalog
We engaged an outside consultant to conduct business process analyses by way of facilitated conversations around four distinct services—event management, web content management, IT procurement and technology account management—that were not initially seen as aligning with the current IT service catalog. The purpose of this engagement is to help us understand the workflow that supports each one of these four functions and the role that IT plays in them. The consultant has taken note of similarities and differences in service delivery and has captured suggestions for enhancing the user experience of these services.
These sessions brought together many IT professionals, members of the academic units, as well as functional area and subject matter experts from University Event Services, University Communications and the web team, Procurement and various parts of ETS. Although we do not have the full report from the consultant, preliminary feedback gathered from various participants indicates that the sessions have been very productive—we are grateful for these important insights. We expect to have the full report in mid-April and look forward to integrating its findings into our approach.
Research Computing in a Shared Environment
We have actively engaged the research community on research data storage and support needs around computational capacity. Chris Danforth and Jeff Marshall have been instrumental in creating a context to highlight the computational needs of UVM researchers in general. A series of meetings is planned to help us maintain a research cyberinfrastructure that is secure yet welcoming for innovation and experimentation. The cooperation and advocacy of these two colleagues, along with many others, will be instrumental to the direction of our institutional research cyberinfrastructure framework and the form it takes in supporting all research regardless of discipline.
Common Issue-Tracking (Footprints Project)
We have set up a working group to help us move to a common issue tracking system within ETS. The work of this group is guided by the basic principle that we need consistent data to inform how we allocate resources. The result of this group's work will pave the way for greater visibility into trends and patterns around the technology user experience. Ultimately, this group will help us answer questions such as:
- What services are being requested?
- Who is requesting the services?
- When are the services being requested and completed?
- Who is providing the services?
- What are our clients' reactions to the service provided?
The group's task is to select a common project from our existing Footprints projects, then determine what modifications and access are necessary in order to make the project useful for gathering consistent information on IT issues across the university. Subsequently, the group will perform modifications to make the project ready for use beginning May 1, 2021. Escalation to other groups will also be considered. The group will provide a mid-point report status update within two weeks of this initial assignment. Travis Bartlett will lead this group, which will include Andrew Hendrickson, Seth O'Brien, Kara Williams, Roxy Bombardier, Ryder Owens, Sue Lang and Geoff Duke.
Management of Multi-user Machines (in labs, other public spaces and instructor stations)
Another working group is focusing on standardizing how we manage multi-user machines. The work of this group is guided by the following principles:
- Standardization is required in order to provide baseline IT service to all of our customers.
- UVM needs to gain efficiencies through process automation and enterprise management of multi-user machines.
- UVM needs to improve its information security posture through enterprise management of multi-user computers.
The group will make recommendations on hardware standards as well as the efficient deployment and management of these multi-user machines and related software. The group will operate on the premise that virtual deployment of software is the default at UVM and that physical deployments are an exception. Jonathan Trigaux and Harjit Dhaliwal will lead this group, which will include Scott Greenia, Jon Reisenweaver, Ian Davis, and Justin Howard. The group will deliver a midterm status update by April 30 and their final recommendations by June 1, 2021.
Workflow and Service Delivery within IT Services Hubs
The work of this group will be guided by the principle that ETS must fix problems fast by serving the campus from four geographically based IT Service Hubs. Essentially, ETS personnel will be assigned a set of buildings within their hub as a way to avoid unnecessary delays in response time for emergency tech support.
Over the course of the month of April, we will engage various stakeholders, including the Council of Deans, IT Governance and IT professionals to validate some basic assumptions on how to make the hubs both effective and efficient. At such point, we will announce the membership of the group and the timeline of their work.
Inventory of Technology Equipment in Non-General Purpose (non-GP) Classrooms
An inventory of the non-GP spaces and the equipment in these locations is currently being compiled to help better plan the maintenance and the replacement cycle for classroom technologies across the university in general.
Infrastructure Collaboration with College of Medicine Technology Services (COMTS)
The ongoing involvement of College of Medicine Technology (COMTS) in Shared Services efforts has focused on the sharing of knowledge, talents and infrastructure. Adding to the recent joint deployment of data protection/backup systems, the COMTS and ETS teams are exploring integrating storage infrastructure and continue to expand shared data center space.