Category Archives: IT Projects

System maintenance project, new projects, project updates

Monthly Technology Report

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.

Schedule Evergreen Going Live August 21

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 spacescheduling@evergreen.edu. 

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!

 

New Technology Support Center

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.

Banner 9 Project Underway

The Project:

Evergreen is now moving forward with the migration from Banner 8 to Banner 9. This project has been in the works for many months now but it officially kicked off January 2018 in preparation for Oracle dropping support for the form technology that supports Internet Native Banner (INB), the forms interface for Banner 8. The deadline for this change is December 2018, a date not to far into the future.

What does this mean to Banner users on campus? Those who regularly use INB forms will find their work in an updated java-based interface now called Banner Admin Pages. The underlying infrastructure will still be for all practical purposes the same Oracle database. The way people interact with Banner though will shift considerably.

The Schedule:

Over the next 4-8 months Banner users will be asked to engage in various levels of testing once Computing and Communication staff move the two platforms into a single/parallel infrastructure, so both Banner 8 and Banner 9 can be used at the same time.

We will be asking our Banner users to test Banner 8 work processes using the updated infrastructure during the month of March. April will then see a shift towards dedicated testing of college workflows in the Banner 9 Admin Pages. Onces these workflows satisfactorily meet the business needs of the different administrative offices, then they can completely migrate their workflows to the new Admin Pages in preparation of the December 31 cutoff of the INB technology. Below is the basic timeline for the project.

 

The Project Teams:

Business areas of the college are represented by an area lead. This team member will be responsible for attending implementation team meetings, helping coordinate testing as well as building training strategies for the workflows for their and associated areas who leverage similar forms.

Implementation Team Lead

Alternate

Business Area

Lori Klatt Elaine Hayashi-Peterson Curriculum and Registration
Leona Walker Jo Bernier Admissions
Tracy Hall Sandra Mann Financial Aid
Beatrice Sapp Brandon Reed Student Accounts
Jennifer Levesque TBD Human Resources and Hiring
Ladonna Herigstad Amy Placette Payroll
Nancy Eastham TBD Finance and Budget
Kitty Jones Lori Klatt Advising
Jessica Thrift Yahui Chi Advancement

Project Management:

Rip Heminway is the Banner 9 Project Manager and will be organizing and facilitating meetings for both the implementation and technical teams. Tony Alfonso is the chair of the Steering Committee who will be making decisions as necessary to ensure that an institutional perspective is maintained throughout the implementation process. The steering committee is tasked with defining/untangling policy related issues, securing critical resources and defining broad project outcomes. 

Steering Committee Member

Department

Tony Alfonso (Chair) Computing and Communications
Laurel Uznanksi Human Resources
Dave Kohler Business Services
Erik Pederson Enrollment Services
Rip Heminway (PM) Computing and Communications

The management of the project and all documentation will be built in and shared via the Redmine Project Management platform that is maintained by Computing and Communications. If you would like to get access to this more detailed resource, please contact Rip Heminway at X6904.

If you have questions or comments about this plan, please leave them and they will be answered as quickly as possible.

Time and Leave Upgrade is Mobile Friendly

Beginning Monday, October 3 the Time and Leave system at Evergreen will have an updated look and some enhanced views for supervisors. Computing and Communications, in partnership with Human Resources and Student Employment, is very excited to report that the Adobe Flash dependency that prevented many of us from accessing our Leave Requests or Time Tracking on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is no longer an issue. Updated help articles, including videos, will be available via the Computing Wiki at http://wikis.evergreen.edu/computing/index.php/Time_and_Leave_Help. Enjoy!

Office365 Project Update

Some have asked, what’s the news with all that talk of migrating Evergreen email to cloud Microsoft Office365?  Here’s the deal. Computing and Communication (C2) staff worked very closely with Microsoft over the course of spring quarter and into early summer with the intent to go live with the new services before fall. Unfortunately, in the testing phase we discovered some flaws with some of the underlying technologies that we rely on to automate and manage these processes, The result is that we are re-evaluating a new timeline based on the need to upgrade these core legacy systems. Our focus has turned to re-architecting these systems which we refer to in the collective as Identity and Access Management (IAM). This will be the most pressing C2 project over the next few months and once this is completed we can turn back to Office365 and providing all those services to students, faculty and staff.

Orca – Server 2012 Migration

Summary

We will be transitioning the Orca academic file server to Windows 2012. There are a handful of reasons for doing this, including the fact that Orca is currently a 32bit Windows 2008 server and uses Windows dynamic disks for the programs share.  Additionally, once the data is on Server 2012 we can take advantage of data deduplication which should reduce the total disk space consumed by at least 10-20%. This space savings is important as Orca is our largest file server.

Scope

The transition is intended to be as seamless and unnoticeable to end users as possible. The new server will assume the same name and IP address. Much of the data that needs to be copied from the dynamic disk will be copied over beforehand in order to reduce the necessary downtime. At this time I expect the final cutover to require the server to be unavailable for up to 2 hours.  There was a prerequisite for this project of upgrading our ESXi infrastructure to version 5.5.

Project Manager: Josh Jordan

Team: Network Services

  • Josh Jordan

Groups Involved

  • Network Services
  • Academic Computing (to help schedule the cutover and provide notification to students)
  • Client Services (to help schedule the cutover and provide notification to staff/faculty)

 

Start: Feb 2014 (with prerequisite work done in Jan)

Completion: TBD

Plan:

Jan: Upgrade ESXi to version 5.5 in order to support large virtual disks

End of February: Build replacement server

March 10th-24th  – The programs share will be copied (at a slow rate so as not to interfere with normal access) to the new server.

Mar 24th – Apr 11th  – Verify that disk quotas, quota templates, the pfcc program, and the various clients supported at Evergreen can connect properly. Also, make sure that DUC can properly provision and delete home directories.

April-May –Schedule cutover with client services and academic computing. This will be dependent on when downtime is acceptable for the server.

Any updates will be added to the documentation here: \\hurricane\PCCommon\Computing and Communications\Orca_Server2012_Migration

Relocate offsite backups

Summary

We will be moving two of our ExaGrid appliances to the Tacoma campus for storing offsite backups. The ExaGrid replication targets currently reside over in SEM II while the primary ExaGrid backup targets are in the machine room. This required us to first determine how much bandwidth was required to keep replication caught up and then to get the WAN link in Tacoma upgraded to 100Mb.

Scope

The project will not change the backup process – only the destination for offsite backups from another building on campus to the Tacoma campus. This should not impact end users at all.

Project Manager: Josh Jordan

Team: Network Services

  • Josh Jordan
  • Dan Scherck

Groups Involved

  • Network Services

 

Start: March 1st, 2014 (estimated)

Completion: April 4th, 2014 (estimated)

Plan:

Mar 1st-16th – Dan will verify link speed between Olympia and Tacoma campuses and enable QoS rules in order to make sure ExaGrid replication traffic does not impact normal business traffic. He will also configure the necessary switch ports in the Tacoma network closet.

Mar 17th – If Dan’s testing and configuration has completed Josh will notify Albert Villemure at ExaGrid about the upcoming move and coordinate the IP address changes that are needed.

Mar 24th-28th – We will disable throttling on the SEM II link so replications can fully catch up. Then, we will notify the IT System Outage group that offsite backups will be unavailable during the move. Josh will then get keys and physically move the ExaGrid appliances to the Tacoma site and connect them to the network. Once connectivity has been verified Josh will do a test backup and monitor replication. ExaGrid will be notified when the work has been completed so they can monitor the replication as well.

Apr 2nd-4th – Josh will verify that backups are replicating at an acceptable rate to the Tacoma ExaGrid devices.

any updates will be added to the documentation here: \\hurricane\pccommon\Computing and Communications\ExaTac_Migration

Email Gateway/Spam Filter Replacement

Summary

The license on our current email gateway/spam filter is expiring soon and the hardware is approaching 5 years and support is ending. The Ironport appliance we currently use is a fantastic product with no equal and we have decided to replace the existing system with the latest version of the same product. Our current setup consists of 2 appliances but only one is licensed. The second serves as a spare in case of hardware failure. We only purchased one new appliance and we will keep the other two as spares. We keep the spare on and fully configured. Cutover is planned for 12pm, on Wed Feb 12th. This will result in a short period of less than 5 minutes where the off-campus mail flow is queued while we transition. No mail will be lost. Queueing is a normal and expected behavior for mail systems.

Scope

This project covers only the replacement of the hardware and configuration to exactly match the current configuration on the same software version. We are not making any changes to the configuration or functionality. The intent is zero impact to users and dependent systems.

Project Manager: Joe Pollock

Team: Network Services

  • Barbara Caswell
  • Joe Pollock

Groups Involved

  • Network Services
  • Client Services (could be impacted by help desk calls if there are problems)
  • Academic Computing (could be impacted by help desk calls if there are problems)
  • Administrative Computing (could be impacted by automated mail failures if there are problems)

Start: Feb 3rd, 2014

Completion: Feb 12, 2014

Project Plan on Hurricane\PCCommon

MySQL Upgrade

Project Summary:

This project is to upgrade Mysql databases (version 5.0) on paint to a new VM running Mysql 5.5.   Separating paint’s functions into separate virtual machines will allow us to separate cpu/network/memory/io resources and thereby be able to identify and isolate problems.  The VMware system has the possibility of having more I/O bandwidth and redundancy.

Mysql Scaling/Clustering:  A single master instance will be started at this time.   If there is a clear need for more servers AND we have buy in from other groups, I will make Mysql slave instances to offset the workload.

We start moving test databases in the week of January 23rd.  If a week of testing works ok, then we will move the production databases February 1 – 14th.

If a database/application doesn’t work after the migration, the original database and application will be  on paint until the problem can be resolved.  In order to complete the goal of getting off of the old hardware, paint will have to be made into a virtual machine.

 

Project Owner:

Jason Harris, Network Services

Groups Involved:

  • Network Services
  • Academic Computing
  • Admin Computing
  • Housing
  • Web Team
  • Others TBD

Estimated Completion Date:

February 21st, 2014

Resources:

Files, lists of databases, owners can be found in pccommon/mysql55upgrade