Information Technology Services updates summer 2019

Information Technology Services (ITS) continues to be extremely busy and continually works to provide new or improved services for the campus. Additionally, it provided vital upgrades to campus technical infrastructure, and continued to develop applications and services in support of research technology needs. A myriad of projects are scheduled for summer 2019, to be completed prior to the students returning in mid-August.

New/changing services

The Enterprise Systems and Applications (ESA) group has been working to implement the Nursing On-Line program as quickly as possible. A large portion of the project will occur once the New York State Education Department approves the second of six submitted curricula; ESA has redirected staff efforts to accomplish as much prep work as possible due to the anticipated “approval to course launch” timeline. Recent efforts have been focused on the financial aid portion of this program and the coordination with Ellucian, which is critical to ensure that the newly developed online financial aid systems for nursing will seamlessly integrate with our existing financial aid systems. Recently, ESA has installed a Robo-Registar to simulate student registrations and to put a “test” live load on the process to ensure system configurations are structured to handle real student registration system demands.

The ESA group collaborated with other SUNY campuses and the SUNY system as a consultant and/or reference for SLATE configurations. Binghamton was one of the first SUNY schools to install and go live with SLATE. As such, with over four years of success with SLATE, SUNY considers Binghamton the subject-matter expert for all things SLATE. The ESA staff spends a percentage of their time assisting or supporting other SUNY schools as they install/customize SLATE.

Phase 1 of the new room/event scheduling system, Infosilm went live January 1, 2019, and Phase 2 of this complex system replacement is going well with efforts being concentrated on the installation of Timetabler. Timetabler will build the course scheduling calendar for all academic classes and is on track to go into production this summer. Once Phase 2 is completed, Infosilm will be fully functional as initially requested and will be maintained along with the other software systems Binghamton uses.

The Technology Support team has been supporting various departmental efforts as they prepare for summer activities. The support team customized and updated several hundred laptops for TRIO Upward Bound, the Fleishman Center, the Binghamton University Art Museum and Physical Facilities.

ITS has been working on several internal projects that will ultimately enhance user functionality while enabling ITS to implement improved security measures to better protect staff, faculty and student accounts. These projects and their associated phases have been a work in progress for over a year are approaching the implementation phase that will directly affect all University users for the better.

  • The Active Directory project improved the University’s enterprise level architecture and group management capabilities. One facet of this project was to establish two new domains that staff, faculty and students will be migrated to under the Domain Management Project.
  • The Domain Management Project consolidates the multiple user domains (i.e. BGM, PODS, etc.) into a singular and more manageable structure. Presently with the multiple domains, users are often unsure as to what domain they should use. This will eliminate user confusion as to what domain to utilize, eliminate domains that are less secure, simplify user access and improve system management.
  • The Identity Access Management project will enable more effective data administration and protection in accordance with its value and in conformance with federal, state, and institutional rules and regulations. This project builds on the results of the Active Directory and Domain Management projects.

ITS worked with Residential Life and Spectrum to enhance cable TV services provided to on-campus residents; the result of that effort is SpectrumU. Spectrum University Live TV Streaming (SpectrumU) is now available to all students living in residence halls on campus. Over 200 channels can be streamed both wirelessly and from wired devices straight from students’ residence hall rooms.

Despite multiple information campaigns to the campus, the Information Security Team continues to see University staff regularly fall prey to phishing attacks and has been looking into other methods of disseminating anti-phishing awareness information. During a typical month, the security team handles almost 100 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints and over 65 other security issues. The complexity of the complaints and issues quite often necessitates involving other IT support personnel and has at times required assistance from the campus attorneys.

Upgrades to technical infrastructure

Telecommunications and Networking have finalized plans for Phase II of the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) project for the campus. Phase II DAS installation, in the Library basement, is scheduled to start in fall 2019, with a projected completion in spring 2020. Installing each phase of the entire DAS project is a lengthy process and necessitates extensive negotiation with wireless providers and securing funding support.

The ITS Systems Team performed hundreds of system software patches or updates this quarter, installing over 200 patches or updates for Banner systems alone. Additionally, the team worked closely with the operations staff to continually replace aging servers and storage devices on a regular replacement cycle; typically we replace five or more devices a month. The majority of this work is done well before the business day begins. Our goal is to provide the University maximum system “up” time.

ITS staff completed 86 projects thus far this fiscal year and is actively working on 69 projects with 45 projects waiting for resources (available staff, equipment, vendor support, etc.) and 19 projects on hold. Demand for ITS support continues to grow as evidenced by the 171 project requests submitted for 2018-2019 compared to 111 project requests for all of the prior fiscal year. We also continue to plan for several large-scale projects beyond the normal influx of projects, that will keep the ITS staff quite busy for months to come.

ITS support to the University

The Help Desk staff received almost 2,400 requests for assistance ranging from a simple password re-set to servicing a laptop. Top requests for assistance were for passwords, Blackboard, University-owned computers, BMail, student printing and Banner. Additionally, Help Desk staff scanned and scored over 300 academic tests in the past three months. Student printing for the last three months topped over 2.5 million B&W pages and over 145,000 color pages printed.

Operations and Infrastructure staff continue to work on several key capital projects such as the renovation of Onondaga Hall, the Engineering Building, Hinman Dining Hall, the physics area of Science 2 and the basement of the pharmacy building. The work is critical to the success of future occupants yet is practically invisible to the occupants of the work space. All of this work is on schedule.

The Operations Team has planned several key projects this summer that will expand and enhance our existing indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi coverage and capability and upgrade network devices in the residence halls. Specifically, over 250 access points (APs) will be installed in new locations with another 250 existing APs being replaced with new, more powerful APs. The University Road Map effort of 2017 that provided outdoor Wi-Fi along the Lois B. DeFleur Walkway is being expanded by ITS to provide outdoor Wi-Fi all the way to the Harpur Quad monolith. Additionally, over 80 network devices in the residence halls will be replaced, providing our students ever increasing levels of connectivity.

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