Category Archives: IT Management

Notes and posts from the C&C Management Team

C&C Leadership Meeting 10/2/2018

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.

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.

Notes from the Leadership Retreat August 28

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.

 

C&C Leadership Meeting 8/14/2018

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.

Standing Items
Reviewed standing issues with regards to personnel, budget, upcoming critical dates and project deadlines.

IT Leadership Meeting 8/1

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.

IT Acquisition
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.

Printing Analysis
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.

Extended Warranties
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.

IT Leadership Meeting 7/24

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.

Management team minutes 6-19-12

Present: Aaron, James, Jamie, Rip, Tony, Susan
Absent:Rob

Parking Services: Susie is meeting with Aaron soon to discuss technology issues in Parking Services. James & Jamie believe that this is related to a reporting tool she would like to implement called Flywriter. Background information was given on the scenario.

Retreat Planning: Aaron will look at last week’s notes and will create an initial agenda for us to review and give feedback.

Two-factor/IDM:  Aaron will contact UW to find out what they are using to see if it’s worthwhile to go visit with them to get more information on their products/systems. Management team still needs to discuss what method we want to go with as far as 2-factor authentication (token, mobile, etc).

Security Plan: The security plan is about 90% done. James is working on it.

Accreditation: The accreditation work Rip facilitated has been finished and passed on to Collin.  We will need to probably revisit this in a few months.

Media Services Server/Storage Request: This is potentially a very large system with considerable implications for impact/security on college IT infrastructure.  Important to get a clear plan from Media Services with cost, outcome, objectives, impact and risks. This should be discussed with Amy Betz and/or Michael Zimmerman. Aaron will get with Amy to add to competing Academic Project list.

ORS Phase 1 and Phase 2: Legislative request going forward and need an investment plan. Risk assessment on each individual project separately. Tony will put together the initial project plans for the OCIO and send out so the other managers can contribute. Goal is to have this complete by end of July.

OCIO IT Spend Tracking: There may be an update to the online portfolio process that will be a hosted service called Apptio. Stay tuned.

Hiring/Personnel:

  • Web Designer Position: Job to be posted this week.
  • Network Engineer: There are some applicants and the committee is moving forward.
  • Client Services ITS2: Lots of applicants.

Evaluations: Get them done and update job descriptions when needed.

Aruba Access Points: Purchased 192. Administrative Computing purchased 7 access points and wants plaques. 🙂

Space: Lots of moving around, dominoes and displacement. More people than space… We need to develop a comprehensive plan and something longer-term and maybe an open seating/cubical plan. Plan for a break room that is available and inclusive for all of C&C. Agenda item for our retreat? Consider other solution for the Training Room? Mobile cart with secure wireless available?

Management team minutes 6-8-12

Present: Aaron, Rob, James, Jamie, Rip, Susan, Tony

Reviewed departmental budgets.
The management team decided to make a year-end purchase of additional wireless access points which will be deployed during the summer. This will offset some of the wireless enhancement project expenses slated for next year.

Re-accreditation
The team discussed the re-accreditation response that Rip has been working on and identified individual areas for the directors to provide more detailed information specific to their areas.

Retreat Planning
Tasks for securing locations for the C&C management team retreat were assigned. Some possible topics and activities for the retreat were discussed.

Management team minutes 6-1-12

Present: Aaron, Rob, James, Jamie, Rip, Susan, Tony
Reviewed and Updated IT Business Resumption Plan.
This took the entire three hours.  Resultant to-do items include:
  • Contact Noel regarding RMS/Spacebook alternative strategies in case of outage event
  • Compile management team call list and submit call tree to police services
  • Ask for contact info on key business leaders outside of FAD to add to Aaron’s contact list
  • Each manager should have an emergency response folder with appropriate materials.  Jamie let it be known that she would compile these
  • Aaron will connect with colleagues at CWU and EWU to explore possible alternative locations for off-campus hosting sites in level 2/3 event.
  • Rob will update document when there is a contract to support PBX recovery services.
  • Aaron to finalize/print document

Budget review:
Sara will send out report for next week’s meeting to review end-of-year budgets.  Didn’t get to this today.

Management Team Notes 5-25-12

Present:  Jamie, Aaron, Rob, Tony, James, Rip
Absent: Susan

Budget Review – took a quick look at remaining balances.  Need to take a closer look at 341/equipment budget with Marshall.  Also need to update the Training/Equipment budget in Org 347.  Aaron will ask Sara about doing another C&C Budget report and if she can update the Org 347 spreadsheet (may need to wait for Marshall).

James will look at what it might cost to upgrade the switch for Skunkworks to an HP.  Might cost a little more but it will provide better network management.  Also Rob will look at what it might take to do fiber to Skunkworks. Continue reading