The Division of Information Technology
910.521.6260 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Academic Support Services Subcommittee ReportInformation Technology continues to focus on helping the university achieve its mission and goals. Of particular note, the division is deploying new services such as the Virtual Computing Lab and Unified Messaging which combines e-mail and voice mail, as well as exploring new classroom computer technologies based upon emerging “thin client” technology. Working with Freshman Composition, DoIT is assisting in a pilot project for spring semester to enhance student writing through the use of technology. It is a busy time and spring promises to be even busier as DoIT supports campus offices in the deployment of new technologies to enhance purchasing and student services. At the request of UNCP Faculty Senate, DoIT has formed a committee to develop by spring a proposal for a student computing requirement.
VCL: The Virtual Computing Lab is planned for rollout to the campus via emails and a scheduled drop-in training session during an all-day “show and tell” on Tuesday, November 10th, in Oxendine 2202. Webpages and a PowerPoint presentation will be available to assist in accessing the technologies (it will be at www.uncp.edu/doit/vcl/). VCL Team members who made this possible, along with guidance and assistance from NCSU, are Daryl Burgwyn, Liz Cummings, Mike Pruitt, Rob Hughes, Tom Jackson, Yoshi Guy and Cindy Saylor. Software available for use via the VCL includes the following:
Security Training for UNCP: Melanie Jacobs, Tom Jackson and Cindy Saylor are working to create a security training module which will be mandatory for the campus community to attend. The security training will effectively inform our campus about how to keep both technologies and data secure, by explaining both good practices and inappropriate technology behaviors. The timeline for rollout is by mid-end November. This is necessitated by state audit guidelines and must be completed in anticipation of an Information Technology audit set for early fall of 2010.
LabStats: LabStats has been successfully moved to a permanent server through the teamwork of Tabitha Locklear and Rob Hughes. Tabitha and Daryl Burgwyn are in the process of pushing out (via LANDesk) and installing a new configuration file that will allow LabStats to discover all of the machines located in our labs across the campus. Maps (layouts) of the labs have been created by Daryl and Liz Cummings, with assistance from Carey Jacobs of Facilities Planning. Daryl will be working with Yoshi Guy in the near future on the creation of a webpage that will use LabStats to show the campus labs, the layout of each lab, the type of machines in each lab, and a list of applications installed in each lab. LabStats provides usage information on each lab computer and provides a way to monitor that individual computers are working properly.
BioTech Center: Mary Graham has worked extensively with Dr. Ben Bahr and Lab Assistant Jeannie Hwang to provide technology services for a wide range of technologies and equipment. Services provided to the William C. Friday Laboratories have included upgrading existing computers, connecting research and testing equipment to tablet PCs and standalone computers and providing network connectivity to desktop PCs dedicated. Many challenges with legacy equipment, server-based applications, and software version differences were encountered, but Mary has deployed and implemented any resource necessary to assist Dr. Bahr with a smooth transition from UCONN to UNCP.
SRMC: Mary has worked diligently to convert or replace systems that are still running Windows 2000 to Windows XP. One huge triumph was a conversion at SRMC to move the Scantron and Remark software from the Windows 2000 PC to a refurbished Windows XP PC. To install the software and device drivers on the XP PC was not enough to provide optimal performance for the end-user. By exporting the templates, data, and report files from 2000 OS and importing them on to XP OS, provided ultimate functionality for the users. The user has used the upgraded system for about two weeks without incident. There is only one PC left at an off-site location that remains to be either upgraded or replaced.
Television Station Update: UNCP-TV is back in operation after the power surge issue over fall break. Rob Hughes has been working with the Mass Communication Department and George Johnson to keep business continuity. Replacement power supplies were found for all damaged computers. The switcher/control board and related PC have been tested and found to be not functioning properly. At the moment, functions are being controlled manually, a less than optimum solution.
Thin Client / nComputing Pilot Project: Per the maintenance log kept and submitted by Janet Gentes, Administrative Assistant in the History Department, there is a marked improvement since daily automatic reboots of the server were started. The “problem rate” is down to 13.6% (3 days where issue occurred / 22 days observed) and,while this is better, more attention is still needed The Thin Client Team is awaiting a server from Dell to expand this pilot to test for stability and reliability for more clients in our labs.
Faculty Computer Refresh: Cindy Saylor is working with department chairs, deans, and individual faculty members to prepare for a faculty computer refresh if/when funding becomes available. Currently, 120 faculty members are eligible for a new computer.
Microsoft Office Suite 2007 update: Current number of installations per LANDesk – 646
Surplus/Inventory: Charles Kearney has worked diligently assisting in cleaning and organizing the DoIT warehouse areas containing many older and no longer useful technologies pending a surplus sale. Efforts include removing data from computers, destroying obsolete software, and assisting in re-purposing some useful technology. For example, used, but functional flat panel monitors were swapped for CRT monitors in a Dial classroom.
Installations and Transitions: Liz Cummings and her BraveTech staff have been working with faculty to install technologies that were not readily available during the faculty refresh last academic year or could not be purchased due to budget constraints. Staff are also seeking alternative means to provide our campus community with better technologies without the benefit of funds.
The team is active in identify computers for reuse by combining RAM for older computers to provide 1 GB or more and reimaging for use.
Webpage information: A student FAQ was created by Wes Frazier and Cindy Saylor for frequently asked questions by students and posted on the DoIT webpage.
DoIT Staff Development: Daryl Burgwyn, Mike Pruitt, Rob Hughes, Tabitha Locklear and Cindy Saylor attended the 3rd International Conference on the Virtual Computing Initiative at the IBM campus in Research Triangle Park. All attended approximately 20 different sessions to learn how other non-profit and for-profit institutions are using Cloud Computing and to glean information about their successes and challenges with the technology.
Technology Training: Melanie Jacobs continues to offer numerous training sessions for UNCP faculty and staff. During October the following training events were conducted.
Total: 4 workshops/16 participants | 4 one-on-one sessions
Networking and Operations
Data Centers: Our primary data center has been operating without downtime or failure of any support systems including HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning), UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), or generator power. Our secondary data center experienced HVAC trouble in early October but has operated without incident following maintenance and minor repairs by Facilities and Operations personnel. A recent campus-wide power outage on November 4th, demonstrated the preparedness of both data centers as the UPS, generator, and HVAC systems worked together to provide continual operations of all network, server, and communications equipment.
Telephony: A recent upgrade was performed on the campus VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony system. The system had experienced some minor malfunctions that were associated with minor bugs in the version of software. The most affected area was the University Switchboard where the ability to receive incoming calls to the switchboard was impaired for short periods of time. Since the upgrade telephony service has operated continuously and without issue.
Email: The University email system currently houses 1241 mailboxes including faculty/staff mailboxes and departmental email accounts. The mailboxes combine to account for approximately 650GB of storage on the campus enterprise storage system. A new function is being tested for the email backup system which will decrease the amount of time required to backup and restore individual mailboxes. A new feature has been enabled called “shared mailboxes” which provides a secure and efficient mechanism for accommodating departmental or group email accounts.
Voicemail/Unified Messaging: The new UM (Unified Messaging) pilot group was expanded in its final stages of testing prior to campus-wide distribution. The new system replaces the existing voicemail system and greatly enhances voicemail and email access. Once converted to the new system, a person’s voicemails will be retrievable via the standard dialup method but will also be delivered to the user’s email account. Missed call notifications will also delivered via email. The new voice-activated system will enable users to hear, reply to, or delete email messages as well as to hear calendar appointments and personal contacts.
Campus Network: As the campus network expands and ages, new technologies and equipment emerge with greater capabilities, security, and functionality. Network Services has been working with our networking vendors to prepare for a network refresh to replace equipment which will soon be unsupported by the equipment manufacturer and to upgrade the campus network bandwidth capabilities and functionality. One major initiative includes the upgrade or replacement of our existing NAC (Network Access Control) system called Clean Access while another major need is to upgrade our core bandwidth capabilities to support the increasing demands of network traffic which now include voice, video, Internet, and Intranet traffic. The ability to communicate via all of these methods is paramount in supporting the mission of the University.
Servers: Network Services continues to support the operation of 60+ physical servers and 37 virtual servers. This includes the installation of critical security patches and updates. Routine maintenance is a continual and extremely important process in maintaining the integrity of all network communication systems.
Classroom support: Staff finished the refresh of equipment for six classrooms in Oxendine Science building. A number of Oxendine classrooms are still in need of equipment refresh but over one half of the 33 classroom upgrades have been completed. This has been a partnership effort between the impacted Departments and the Media Center as little funding has been available. Work has been accomplished using existing departmental resources. Further classroom refresh efforts are needed in Dial building including equipment installation in room 153, a former language lab. Equipment is needed for two additional classrooms in Jones Building. The Media Center has scheduled a vendor to repair issues in Sampson classrooms during Christmas break.
Media Support: The Media Center facilitated media equipment setup and operation in support of fourteen workshops on campus including nine events in the UC Annex. Center staff videotaped 12 hours of classes for the Business School.
Repairs: Staff responded to 12 service requests related to a recent power issue on the campus.
Applications Development and Support
Payroll Project: UNCP went live with payroll for students and temporary workers on October 1st and will complete its third pay period on Saturday, November 7th. DoIT has been an integral member of the payroll project and has provided reporting, database and system administration, programming, and similar services. DoIT completed the implementation of Evisions Intellecheck for payroll check printing and for direct deposit file processing. DoIT has developed a model for remote access that has been recommended to other campuses by the payroll team. DoIT has also implemented a storage system for reports and data files.
College support: DoIT partnered with the School of Business to implement an application system for online courses. Non-distance education students can use this system to apply for vacant seats in online courses. The system allows the School to process applications with minimal work and maintains a history of processing. The system has accepted 110 applications in the first 10 days of operation.
Residential Life: DoIT is partnering with Housing and Residential Life, Business Services and the Bursar’s Office to implement the CBORD Housing Management System. This software will allow students to select housing options, change meal plans and make online housing deposits. HMS will be integrated with BraveWeb for convenient access for students. This project is in the initial acquisition stage.
Increased student services: DoIT partnered with Financial Aid and the Bookstore over the summer to modify the Banner/Bookstore interface to move student charge account information to the Bookstore system in near real time. This improved service to students by eliminating delays and manual processing of charges. DoIT has begun a project to extend this interface to include additional students. The project is in the initial planning stage.
Authentication upgrade: DoIT implemented a standard external application identification system for faculty, staff and students. The application is a Banner subsystem and allows DoIT to easily assign and track identification numbers for integration with systems hosted off-campus.
New software integrations: DoIT used the external application identification system to integrate BraveWeb with two hosted services for students. One is the online concierge service Snoozester and the other the BigPulse online survey. DoIT also used this system to produce files for the annual Advancement phonathon.
Registrar support: DoIT repaired an issue with the Degree Audit System (DARS) that incorrectly indicated that students who tested out of a speech class had to take the class to graduate. Work continues on other issues with DARS.
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