What a busy few weeks! Below are the rough notes from our meeting today, please feel free to comment or pass on. Happy Evaluation week, be safe and have a great holiday!
- Reviewed Schedules We reviewed staff outages and various personnel issues. Everything is quiet right now with a couple of new staff coming on board next week. C&C holiday potluck is tomorrow (Wed) at the longhouse. Also reviewed budget updates, Microsoft payment (20k more this year) and smaller expenditures we are evaluating for renewal strategies including Filemaker, Sassafras, and others.
- Student Staff at the TSC editing directory: Redirecting to *editors who don’t know/aren’t trained to do this is time-consuming and expensive. We could either code this (via a request form that would email editors with change requests) or centralize the work with student staff at the TSC. The recommendation from the C&C Leadership team is to allow TSC staff (including tech 2 level student staff) to update information at the request of a supervisor via a ticket. We should consider how this application could be integrated into AD or MIM once IDM is functional. This is also predicated on maintaining the update access as it exists today, and on creating and maintaining clear documentation that is made available to people who currently edit this app as a reference of how to maintain their workgroup information.
- Review/finalize Request workflow: and put into production, including link from my.e.e and help.e.e. The outcome from the meeting is that we will put help.evergreen.edu into my.evergreen.edu and send out a message to the campus regarding this change. This will be done without the new request form integrated. The complete integration of this workflow will take place in January which will also include the removal of the existing computer request form used currently by Academics.
- Printer support question from the Security Team From Security Team: I don’t know where to go with this as it seems that no department really ‘owns’ printer maintenance and security. Security vulnerabilities in these devices seems to be a growing issue. Is there any chance you could bring this up in the Management Meetings so ‘we’ (the security team) knows if we are on the hook for trying to resolve/patch these vulnerabilities or not?.
All printer support is centered and triaged from within the TSC. EME will be the responsible party for security patching for the college, Ken building his skill set in prioritizing patching the most vulnerable hardware via JetAdmin. Network Services still manages the Printer queues. Michael will ask Barbara and the Security Team to address the question: What are the JetAdmin management capabilities for controlling wifi (configuring and managing printers) and if it does not support the security needs to our satisfaction what are the other available options. C&C Leadership is looking for a recommendation on what system is best for securing desktop attached printers. To be clear, the security team is not going to be responsible for patching vulnerable printers, this work will be done by EME.
- Discuss request from Student Success Marketing Group for on-site IT support for Saturday, April 27, 2019 Advising and Registration Day. This would only be possible if we could trigger DUC account creations more frequently to allow for accounts to be automatically generated. Apply via CRM or Banner and we will run the DUC process one time (say at noon?) so their accounts are then active? They will then need to figure out what people’s accounts are and they would need to go through orientation steps before they would be able to register. There is a need for lots of personnel to accommodate this event as well as significant system support. Michael will provide some input to Susan and we look forward to continued dialog regarding this event. He will also check in with Keith and Barbara regarding running DUC more frequently from the monthly.
- New development environment for EA The development team has made the decision to move from a Php/Drupal development stack to a Python/Django stack. This will be a multi-year conversion effort but the decision was based on a two-month team exercise. The team will be building all future (and converting) all apps using the new technology stack.
I apologize to those who read these regularly, I have not had a chance to catch up with all the notes and meetings lately. Please feel free to comment with any questions and have a great wrap up to the fall quarter. Enjoy.
Scheduling/Vacations: Reviewed end of the year meetings and schedules. As Tony, Rip, Phil and Scott will be at the Gartner Identity Management Summit in LV, there is no meeting next week. We will meet the following week and because of vacations and other priorities, we will not be meeting until January.
Personnel/Hiring Update: Discussed new recruitment efforts that are wrapping up. The good news is that Andrew Su has been offered and accepted the position as the new TSC Manager! A veteran C&C and Support Center employee, Andrew brings significant skills and knowledge to the TSC. Congratulations Andrew! He will start on Dec 17th.
The new developer/analyst position is close to an offer, hopefully that position can be offered, accepted and the new employee can start before the end of the year. Fingers crossed. There is a huge backlog of work and the Enterprise Applications team is excited about getting another veteran coder working on all of our projects.
Life Safety Project: We reviewed in detail the Life Safety project and how we are managing staff resources around this project which is quickly evolving with regards management and vendor changes. This project is exacting considerable resources from both Network Services and EME teams, and trying to determine (and pay for) resources to support this vital work has been incredibly challenging.
Review Tech Request form: Reviewed the draft request form in detail and made substantial changes and updated the logic and wording. The goal is to provide a one-stop shop for the entire campus to request technologies, whether this be a computer or a cloud service or a Wireless TV. We hope to provide a streamlined process that is integrated with Kace and with Purchasing so that customers searching for tech resources will be able to get the consultation they need and allow C&C to provide direction on standards like accessibility, support and security. Rip will finish the updates then send out the information to Academic Leadership and then start shopping this to the other division leads.
Hey Everyone, here are the notes from the most recent C&C Leadership meeting on Tuesday. Have fun!
- Reviewed personnel issues and changes, new hires are now being advertised in Enterprise Applications for a new developer/analyst position and the Manager position within Technical Support Center. For more information on these job announcements, check out Evergreen’s Human Resources website
- Backing up Oracle DB – We are reviewing and moving forward with a design and security review for a purchase of an AWS instance to backup our Oracle DB. Currently the Oracle backup processes done in house are not meeting the institutional needs. This is encrypted both at rest and in transit, and we can require all data reside in the US. We also have choices of what geographical region if we need to specify that.
- Finishing up classroom A/V refreshes. This work has not impacted academics. EME techs are doing well covering all support needs. We have an issue around evening and weekend support and how Academics want’s to deal with this in light of staff cuts (and that this has been spotty in the past regardless)
- We are getting our PM fees reestablished from facilities (3% of minor works budget) which translates into more training opportunities for staff. We are discussing Educause and Gartner IAM training opportunities as well as security and leadership/management training. We are looking at getting our staff signed up for these events.
- IPMA Meeting next week. Dr. Brown will be presenting Transparent Leadership as part of the IPMA technology series out at Saint Martins. Looking forward to getting a bunch of IT management staff to attend!
- Reviewed C&C Goals and Objectives prior to the FAO AVP retreat this afternoon. We reviewed the prior documented goals and made a few minor changes.
- Review purchase and acquisition workflows – The team reviewed new proposed workflows for technology purchases across the college. This is being considered as a template for SAL and FAO to adopt, hopefully bringing other divisions on board.
To improve the visibility of the work in Computing and Communications, we also will report out monthly on large work products and efforts for the month. This is a small synopsis of much of the work that has been accomplished over the summer. Thanks to all the staff and collaborators for all the hard work. Enjoy!
OCIO Compliance – Completed and submitted the 2018 State of Washington Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) policy compliance certification. A new Security Team has been charged to have official responsibility and oversight for the security of college systems and network infrastructure. This is the implementation of a collaborative approach to work that has always been done, but not always coordinated or viewed from an enterprise perspective. The first efforts of the team will be to review and update the incident response plan and the security program. Preparations are being made to have a security program compliance audit conducted by an external third party. State OCIO policy requires that we have a security program in place and that it be audited every 3 years.
Our brand new Physical Computing Center (PCC) is now operational. A successful beta run this summer has been completed on the PCC, that now occupies the old classroom across from Media Loan. With Evergreen Foundation support, faculty collaboration and a high level of student engagement, we now have a very cool technology/maker space on campus. This facility boasts a wide array of technologies for students to explore including robotics, a networking sandbox, 3D printers and all kinds of interesting computer interfacing tools. We are excited with the possibilities and look forward to continued expansion and use as we go into the first full academic year with this new technology space.
Staff Reorganization and the Technical Support Center (TSC) – There has been significant changes over the past month with layoffs and union actions impacting the teams across C&C. New faces are now at the TSC and in Curricular Support. In light of Mark Holm’s departure, we are focused on keeping the TSC functioning at a high efficiency and getting this key vacant leadership position filled as quickly as possible. Coupled with the staffing changes in the TSC, Computer lab and office computer upgrades have slowed somewhat. We are working hard to buckle down and get equipment to users as quickly as possible. The focus now being faculty before the start of school. In addition we are upgrading a few computer labs across campus and are in the process of upgrading all student lab computer images in preparation for fall quarter.
Schedule Evergreen is now live! We have officially launched Schedule Evergreen to the community and are busy with the post roll out discovery fixes and improvements. The development team has rallied amazingly well after losing a key developer at a critical point in the project and with other high priority work that has been hitting the team prior to fall quarter. This is easily one of the most complex projects as well as one of the most student-centric projects to date.
Banner 9 rollout and adoption has been an important parallel focus. The Enterprise Applications and Network Services teams have been working together to update the databases and infrastructure to accommodate Banner 9 as the new ERP foundation for the college. Financial Aid and Admissions are both slated to move workflows in October and others to follow closely behind. We still have significant work to mitigate custom elements of Banner that will take primary focus this fall and the team is doubling down in making sure the environment is functional and stable during these transitions.
Just so everyone is also aware, Enterprise Applications Team will be hiring a new Developer/Analyst soon! We are in the process of hiring a vacant developer/analyst position to get the team back as close as possible to a sustainable level, keep your eyes on the HR website for the recruitment.
AV Classroom Support Changes are now in full operation. We are pleased to announce that long-time evergreen staffer Kathryn Ford has joined the EME team this past summer. Kathryn has many years experience providing technology support for AV classroom users and we are already seeing the benefits of closer coordination between her role and our work designing, installing and maintaining classrooms. This will also allow our AV classroom techs to provide backup for Kathryn during periods of peak demand.
There have also been considerable work dedicated the Campus IT Infrastructure project. Since January 2018 we have been preparing for a major renovation to the campus networking infrastructure as well as important safety and security systems. This project will provide a more robust and reliable network communications environment for the campus in order to support critical communications systems and to minimize the impact of occasional power outages. The construction and installation portions of this broad-reaching project will begin Winter quarter and will wrap up the following summer.
AV Lecture Classrooms have also been updated over the summer. We are currently wrapping up the project to update AV classroom systems in the Seminar 2 1105 and 1107 lecture rooms as well as Longhouse classrooms. These new systems feature awesome ‘laser’ video projectors, simplified “touch panel” control devices and a host of other improvements to make these rooms more reliable and easier to use, just in time for fall quarter!
As part of the newest capital project, the Critical Power, Safety & Security Project is now underway: We will be replacing all the network switches on Campus as part of this project. Our current switches are over 5 years old and don’t have the hardware redundancy required to support critical systems. The new switches will have redundancy and will be able to support higher bandwidth. We are working with Synchronous Technologies, a local reseller of Aruba/HP network equipment to design and quote the Aruba/HP equipment. We learned, from network performance data, around 70% of our wired network ports had no data traffic over the past 12 months. We have roughly 9300 switch ports and the Olympia and Tacoma campus. 6300 have had no data traffic in the past 12 months. We are planning to reduce the number of switches and switch ports to match the number of ports actually in use. This avoids around $2M in switch costs upfront and saves on power and cooling in the future.
There has also been considerable traction completed on our SAN Reconfiguration and Maintenance Renewal Project. We added additional storage and renewed maintenance on our primary SAN for two more years. The SAN is the disk storage system for all the data in the data center. This is the last time we will be able to renew maintenance on this SAN. It will go end-of-support in August 2020.
Review Organization workflows and staff changes
We discussed at length the long-term idea of bulk purchasing computers out of a central budget once a year to save money and standardize equipment purchases. To do this we will need to do a budget analysis and write up a proposal to put in front of VP’s for budget adjustments and clarity around what the college needs to allocate for future years. This is a long-term planning goal that would hopefully be both a value and service add to the college
To finalize this plan, MDM encryption setup will need finalization across the enterprise. We anticipate this being finalized in order to change the repair strategy for all macs and meet state requirements for shipping out unencrypted harddrives.
This year in which we are transitioning, we will drive to institute an annual hardware upgrade for each division if possible. We will track all warranty information in Kace, and if a machine is broken, we will ship out if under warranty but otherwise the customer will need to purchase a replacement. We will make a best effort to diagnose and do standard repairs on anything younger than 3 years old (but will need to develop the list of acceptable repairs).
Both Network Services and Enterprise and Academic Technology Groups are functional with regards to staff changes but will require clarity from leadership to promote new workflows with the staff changes. We will also need to proactively break down the few remaining silo’s and engage more broadly in building and promoting specific collaboration opportunities across teams.
Academic and Enterprise Technologies groups are both hiring vacant positions. The EA developer analyst position is close to recruitment and works is being done to expedite the search for a new Technology Support Center Manager as soon as possible.
Develop Goals for 2019
The team spent considerable time Updating goals for FY 2019 based on new campus strategic initiatives. We met with the new Vice President for Finance and Opperations and reviewed topics relating to strategic projects and shared what we are planning for the coming fiscal year. As part of this exercise we reviewed the use of the tool we are collectively using to track and manage projects (Redmine) and have decided on a reorganization and data tracking. To whit, we will flatten the structure to remove the workgroups as target versions and add new fields:
- Target Version = fiscal year
- Status = same as now
- Stakeholder engagement (scale)
- Technical complexity (scale)
- Risk (H/M/L)
- Level of Effort (number of hours)
- Teams (EA,NS,AT,EME)
- Deadline driven? (y/n)
Other Items of Interest
Training: Focus on populating training needs for next year. Management will update and connect with staff on the highest need areas and ensure our staff continue to get appropriately trained in core technologies
Reviewed specific project milestones and focused heavily on the Identity Management Project. We have a problem in getting enough capacity with project management to keep this project moving forward. The colleges new Life Safety Project has taken a hit from the project management role from IAM and will continue to tap that resource. We will connect with the vendor to see if we can extend our work. We hope to provide them the employee information now to start building a test environment and focus on student provisioning starting January 2019.
The majority of the time today was spent reviewing and revising last years goals and documenting strategic goals for the upcoming year. There is a whole lot of moving parts and critical work going on that are engaging the teams and our continued challenge is to focus on the highest priorities and keeping our projects moving. Next meeting will be primarily focused on developing clear objectives for the leadership retreat. One more month before faculty are on contract!
PCcard Handbook review
Visited by Brant from purchasing and reviewed current PCcard handbook. We decided on broad guidance language around admissible procurement strategies for technology purchases via pccard and how to deal with restricted IT purchases. The team will provide direction to the Purchasing office on language updates and submit to Tony and revisit how this is working in 3 months.
Review FY18 C&C Goals
Team reviewed year end goal document in order to report out C&C yearly accomplishments to the community. We also worked on developing new goals for the next year based on the enrollment recovery and revitalization goals set by the institution. We will continue to work on this strategy work at the leadership retreat.
Review retreat topics
Saved this topic till next week.
Reviewed standing issues with regards to personnel, budget, upcoming critical dates and project deadlines.
Beginning Tuesday, August 21, the college will switch to a new campus scheduling system, Schedule Evergreen. This system will make requesting and confirming campus spaces more transparent, provide students with clear and timely class schedules, and make it easier for you to promote events to the campus and the public.
What to Expect:
- Requesting Space: All requests to use any space on campus will be made through Schedule Evergreen, except for a few administrative conference rooms managed by specific areas.
- Publicizing and Viewing Campus Events Calendars: All requests for space will be accompanied with the option to publicize the event to either our campus community (i.e. students, faculty and staff ) calendar listed in my.evergreen.edu or to the public campus calendar listed on Evergreen’s webpage. Events will be publicized when space is assigned and confirmed.
- Resources for scheduling and promoting events information: A new webpage will go live when the new system launches with information about scheduling and promoting events on campus.
- Schedule Evergreen Overview Sessions: Beginning the week of August 20, we will offer informational sessions focused on non-curricular event scheduling. See below for the first dates and times. During this transition time, faculty can still use their usual method of requesting space for class by emailing Space Scheduling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overview Sessions Offered in Academic Computing Lab 2617: Wednesday, August 22, 3-4pm and Thursday, August 23, 1-2pm
As with any system transition, we expect there may be some hiccups along the way. We have amazing technical support and development teams that are prepared for this transition process. We appreciate your patience and support during these next few months. More information to follow!
There is so much going on across the college and within C&C it’s hard to track all the details. The Leadership Team meeting that was scheduled for an hour lasted 2 and a bit. We were joined by Brant from Purchasing to discuss some of the big changes that are hitting our customers. Below are the highlights. As always please feel free to contact us for questions or post them below.
We are working through the nuances of our IT purchase and acquisition process in light of retirements and reorganization. We are exploring how best to partner with the Purchasing office to provide standard pathways for most common purchases (and C&C maintains those standards) and that exceptions would then go to the leadership team to review and approve or deny. Purchasing suggests that Banner approval queues might be the appropriate place to catch non-standard requests (changing from an acquisition tool to an approval tool). We have established standards around computer workstations and have authority to manage these standards as supported by the Appropriate Use policy. It get’s fuzzier around printers, software services, etc. Banner could be set up for users to mark items as standard or non-standard and purchasing could catch those items that have been improperly marked. This could open the door to a deeper conversation and documenting the exceptions. Purchasing is waiting for the return of the Finance Director to work out the details on coding and configuring Banner to provide possible pathways. Like so many things at Evergreen currently this is going to continue being an iterative process and we will all need to continue to over communicate with customers, stakeholders and folks in the Purchasing office.
Purchasing is still collecting information on detailed printing expenditures for the college. Once this information has been collated, Purchasing and C&C will collaborate on the analysis and move forward with next steps.
Academics is talking about dropping extended warranties on Academic computer purchases. Will other departments do this too? At some point soon we need to make a decision about whether or not we can provide out-of-warranty repair in-house or surplus broken equipment at the cost to the Org that purchased the equipment. A business analysis on the number of extended warranty repairs will help guide this conversation and a decision.
Linux Server Architecture
We are revisiting the way we architect, automate and deploy our server infrastructure. Conversation brought to light the need to organize a strategy between Network Services and Enterprise Application to determine the intersections for collaboration. Rip and Michael to organize and report back.
CAS and SAML – SSO Direction
We need to continue to build the strategy regarding our SSO infrastructure (CAS 5, SAML) moving forward with the growth of external and in-house apps and IAM on the horizon. It was suggested we review the F5 product to inform a pathway towards a more robust single-sign on architecture and the ability to associate non-college credentials with users AD credentials.
As a way to better communicate with the campus, the IT Leadership Team is trying something new; posting our notes here regularly. Please let us know if this is useful!
- Discuss the open position in Enterprise Apps – Considering opening the vacant position in Enterprise Applications with a lead analyst/programmer position with an ERP focus and with strong infrastructural background to support the development team.
- Argos and Reporting needs – Reviewed the Argos presentation and the college articulated need for better access to institutional data. Tony is in continued conversation with campus leadership around a direction we will take moving forward.
- C&C communication proposal – Discussed providing feedback from our meeting to technews as a weekly digest of the discussions from the C&C Leadership Team. This is a way for us to communicate the discussions from the C&C Leadership Team more broadly.
- EME Parts Room status/strategy – EME is still in the process of coordinating the dismantling of this space and the inventory. This will require tracking the inventory changes and EME is still working on setting this up. There remains a question what the future of Service Ledger is and how this application is being used in conjunction with changes in recharge/inventory management.
- Networking proposal – Discussed life safety project and a network design based on current usage calculations done by the Network Services team. There is a surprising low level of traffic across much of the campus except for a few hotspots such as CAB, second floor library C wing. Also reviewed where (which IDF’s) 10 Gig connections would be most likely to installed since the cost for the 10 Gig transceivers is magnitudes more expensive than the lesser throughput transceivers.
If you have noticed the attractive construction wall at the entrance to the Computer Center and have been wondering what is going on, the Faculty and Staff Help Desk on the first floor will soon be moving into this new space and becoming the new Technology Support Center. Monday March 26th (break week), Mark Holm, Chris Granado and Andrew Su and their incredibly capable student techs will move upstairs to this new space. We will be offline for the day of March 26th while we make the move, but we should be fully up and operational by Tuesday March 27th.
To start with the hours, operations and support will be exactly the same as before. Over the ensuing months we will be exploring new synergies between technology support in the Computer Center and the faculty/staff help desk, aligning our approaches and discovering operational efficiencies. The vision is to provide a more straightforward and discoverable pathway for anyone on campus seeking technology support regardless of the issue.
As we move into this new configuration I have two favours to ask of you. The first is for patience as we figure out how best to deliver core support services in this new space. Things may take a little longer as we learn about and mitigate impacts from the move.
Secondly, and more importantly, please provide feedback on things you notice, experiences you have both positive and negative, or important issues you would like us to be aware of. At the end of the day we strive to provide the best possible technical support we can, and that is only possible if there is a strong feedback loop with the community we serve.
A special thanks to all the hard working staff in facilities – construction services and custodial services for all of their diligence and attention to detail in creating this exceptional space.