Information Technology Services activities
New and upgraded services: myCourses, Commencement widget, bMobi and Help Desk tools
Binghamton University is transitioning to a cloud-hosted environment for its learning management system, Blackboard, to improve its reliability and performance. Starting in the spring 2017 semester and beyond, Blackboard services will be accessed via myCourses, which will have the same look and feel as the locally hosted environment, with additional requested enhancements including:
• the automatic add/drop of students in courses,
• automatic course creation and
• the ability to automatically upload Blackboard grades to Banner.
Access to the new system opened to faculty Nov. 17, and ITS is providing a variety of support services to assist faculty with the transition including training sessions, online self-help resources and open office hours. Students will gain access to the new system in the spring 2017 semester.
Considerable effort was made by ITS staff to support the new enhancements within myCourses including learning about and deploying Ellucian’s Intelligence Learning Platform (ILP), developing and adjusting other Banner integrations, as well as other system set-ups.
Commencement portal widget
ITS completed work on a Commencement portal widget for the Commencement Office. This widget is seen by students on the myBinghamton portal page and, depending on a student’s progress toward a degree or the number or credits earned, automated messaging appears that prompts the submission of forms including: application for degree, petition to walk at Commencement and the Commencement participation form. A full back-end administrative toolset has been developed for the Commencement Office to collect the forms and analyze the data to prepare for its multiple ceremonies.
myBinghamton update and BMobi relaunch
Updates were made to the student view in the myBinghamton portal featuring a new interface optimized based on student feedback for simplified student use. When logged into myBinghamton, students now see four category headings: Main, Campus Life, Academic Services and News/Events. A focal point is a universal search feature that allows students to search events, the University directory and general information contained within all portal content. A new widget is the one for the final exam schedule. Oft-used widgets, including the live bus schedule, eSuds, Sodexo menu and IT system status, are still available under the Campus Life category. The streamlined view consolidates information in one gateway that otherwise would require multiple visits to various websites.
Hand in hand with updates to the myBinghamton portal were updates the BMobi app, which was relaunched to include additional features. The BMobi app is now fully integrated with the myBinghamton portal.
ITS completed the first phase of a two-phase launch of the new Information Technology Services Management (ITSM) tool for the University, called ServiceNow. The ITS Help Desk is now using ServiceNow as its ticketing system, which has replaced the previous non-supported system, and is responding to help calls and service requests using ServiceNow. In addition, ServiceNow is being used as the intake tool for IT project requests.
Other completed projects include:
• Added new introductory offerings in the Emerging Technology Studio including Photoshop, web development, 3-D modeling for 3-D printing and a CNC Milling Certification workshop
• Collaborated with the Library in support of the new Graduate Student Lounge
• Completed customer service training with the Library and the Center for Learning and Teaching
• Compled of JAMF Casper administrator training, provisioning of new servers for support, and configuration and set up of JAMF Casper to manage PODs and other iOS devices
• Created server storage for the Decker School of Nursing and Harpur College
• Created a secure file storage for vital police data
• Expanded and upgraded our backup storage environment in support of research initiatives
• Completed the pharmacy school admissions integration
• Established attributes in active directory to allow for card access integration testing
• Upgraded the Windows server environment to McAfee 10
• Improved the performance of nightly DegreeWorks extracts
• Tested Whatsup Gold monitoring to monitor services in addition to servers
• Improved the security of the data center through physical and access changes
• Sent out nine skids of electronic recycling
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), held during October, kicked off the busy quarter. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it is an annual campaign to raise awareness about cybersecurity. Binghamton University, via ITS, participated in this campaign by becoming a NCSAM Champion and pledging to promote a safer and more secure technology environment. Tips and tricks on how to keep yourself safe and promote awareness were shared daily on the ITS Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Other security efforts completed this quarter include vulnerability scanning and remediation efforts that have led to a 90 percent decrease in risk to systems in the data center since April of 2016 and the development of Security Awareness Training for faculty and staff with an anticipated roll-out in early 2017. The Security Operations group within ITS continues to work through recommendations from the Gartner Security Assessment and currently has 12 out of 34 initiatives underway as part of a four-year road map to mature the University’s security environment.
The Physical Security area within ITS has been working on various projects including the creation of a secure area for the University Police Department to review video evidence. The room, which has been named the “Club House,” was outfitted with new computers and a video wall where detectives can review the videos in a secure environment. New software, network upgrades and other changes were made to help support the operation of the campus video monitoring system.
With regard to physical security, ITS also collaborated with staff in the Engineering and Science Building to install an iris scan biometric reader for its data center. This is the first installation of a biometric reader for door access at the University and will be used as model for our division’s door access capabilities.
Other projects completed by team included:
• Made tje Physical Security Systems access available across all platforms, including mobile use, improving usability for the University Police and over 110 department access managers across the University
• Moved 93 intelligent system controllers onto a new communications server to decrease network traffic
• Launched a pilot project to test TRAKA, the automated key control issuance system
Technology Maintenance Day and network upgrades
A semi-annual Technology Maintenance Day was held Oct. 4, and ITS staff worked throughout the day to perform upgrades to make systems more redundant, reliable and secure. After the first year of these semi-annual maintenance days, ITS has successfully implemented critical changes with the impact of:
• Increased application and infrastructure uptimes
• Reduced maintenance time
• Increased equipment lifetime, including increased airflow and cooling
• Improved space management through flexible infrastructure placement
• Positioned data center systems for a more efficient move during a future redesign
The next Technology Maintenance Day will be held Tuesday, April 11. Communication will be shared in mid-January about maintenance to be completed and systems that will be unavailable on maintenance day.
In addition to network upgrades completed during Technology Maintenance Day, further upgrades were made to the network infrastructure to support network capacity demands for the rest of this academic year and into fall 2017. ITS moved building connections to the new core router, completed the configuration of new firewall hardware and expanded the capacity of the Technology Hub Data Center network. Additionally, ITS planned for upcoming data facilities audits and planned the spring and summer 2017 building network upgrades and projects. Lastly, capacity of the University’s research and education network was increased from 200mbps to 500mbps, more than doubling network throughput in support of faculty research.
Women in IT: More than Just Code
The evening of Oct. 8, ITS hosted its first Women in Technology: More Than Just Code event. The evening included a presentation and panel discussion highlighting the different areas within IT and various career opportunities; with a focus on the idea that a variety of educational backgrounds can lead to a successful career in IT. Roles as project manager, marketing and communications specialist, technology consultant, training specialist and human resource specialist were all discussed. Additionally, a variety of resources, recommended entry-level courses, as well as professional organizations to join to enter the technology field were provided to attendees. The evening was also used to encourage women to seek out opportunities within IT to help lessen the gender gap within the field. A panel of female IT leaders spoke:
• Susan Carmen, chief information officer, United Health Services
• Sharon Pitt, associate vice president and chief information officer, Binghamton University
• Jennifer Sparrow, senior director for teaching and learning technology, Penn State
• Lisa Trubitt, assistant CIO for policy and communications, University at Albany
The units of Enterprise Systems and Enterprise Applications within ITS have been combined to form Enterprise Systems and Applications (ESA), with Mike Hizny as its director. This combination affords the opportunity to create an agile group focused on communication and collaboration in the development and delivery of IT services and tools. The newly formed team has been integral in the move to managed hosting for the University’s LMS, and will also work in the coming year on identity and access management, business reporting and analytics, as well as a host of other responsibilities.
Blackboard Support for the University has moved from the Center for Training and Development to ITS. Tami Regulski has joined the ITS team, reporting to Technology Support Services. This change will allow ITS to be agile in addressing any issues that may arise with such an important teaching and learning tool for our students and faculty.