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Information Technology Services moves forward

By : Katie Ellis

Information Technology Services, formerly known as Computing Services, encompasses Educational Communications, Telecommunications and Computing.   
With technology serving as the backbone for much that happens on campus, and with the rapidly changing technology environment, the University last fall  enlisted CTG consultants to review the campus technology structure and to help position the campus for the future.

CTG recently completed its review and confirmed two important points, Vice President for Administration James Van Voorst said.

“We specifically asked the consultant to evaluate our current needs and provide guidance to take us to the next level,” he said. “They found that the University’s technology staff is technically competent, and we are well positioned to address the changing environment. Additionally, in terms of hardware and software, we’re generally where we should be.”

CTG noted that the overall ITS organization is sound, but recommended strategic organizational changes to provide services more effectively. Van Voorst said ITS has developed a time line for taking action based on the consultant’s recommendations.
“We will be proposing some new policies regarding how technology services are provided, and there will be some organizational realignment, system enhancements and improved communication processes between ITS and campus departments,” he said. “We think we can better our communication processes and our project management systems.”

One of the first issues being addressed is an upgrade to the campus e-mail system for greater reliability. With the support of the Academic Computing and Educational Technology (ACET) and the Administrative Information Systems Resource Committee (AISRC), an RFP for e-mail is nearing final approval.

The current campus e-mail system was built out of open source and public-domain software — essentially free, except for labor and hardware, said Mark Reed, associate vice president overseeing ITS. It was cost-effective, and while occasionally had problems, served the campus well for more than 10 years. Campus e-mail regularly handles more than 15,000 users and messages that now sometimes exceed a million per day.

Times have changed and e-mail is now something every organization uses heavily and relies on for critical communications. Therefore, our approach with the new system will be different, Reed said.

“The vendor supplies the whole package: hardware dedicated and optimized to the e-mail package, plus installation and the resolution of any software problems,” he said. “We expect better reliability, better redundancy and faster processing. It will also free our people to work on other projects.   

“The system we’re bringing in will have multiple features, including better spam control, more storage and better authentication capabilities for security purposes,” he added.
Will the campus see much of a difference? The transition for on-campus e-mail will be fairly seamless, Reed said. “Users won’t have to change their front-end clients like Eudora or Thunderbird. Where it will be most noticeable will be for those using Squirrel mail, which will be replaced. The new Web mail will be very fast and more efficient,” he said.

“Over the next months,” Van Voorst said, “ITS will work with ACET, AISRC as well as other campus departments to further the action plan.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08