Information Technology Services activities fall 2019

New/emerging/changing services

The Enterprise Systems and Applications (ESA) group continues to work hard preparing systems and applications in anticipation of the New York State Department of Education approving the second of six submitted curricula for the online nursing program. ESA has completed all the required pre-approval work and is poised to tackle the next phase for the online program.

The ESA collaborated with other SUNY campuses and SUNY Central 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-plus years of success with SLATE, SUNY and SICAS (Student Information and Campus Administrative Systems) consider Binghamton as the subject-matter expert for all things SLATE. Recently, two ESA staff members, Robin Sassani and Scott Geiger, were presented with a Partner Award at the 2019 SICAS Summit for their efforts promoting and assisting with SLATE across other SUNY schools.

The ESA recently completed the installation and customization of the Alma system for the University Libraries. Alma is a unified library services platform that manages all facets of library transactions in a single interface. Once again, Binghamton led the way and was the first SUNY school to implement Alma on such a large scale. In part due to Binghamton’s efforts and success, SUNY has endorsed Alma and is looking for Binghamton to assist other SUNY schools in their implementation of Alma.

Recently, Jeff Ramsay, assistant director of enterprise systems, took the initiative to look into a process that was failing on a regular basis. SICAS, who owned the process, had been unable to provide a reliable solution to our problem. Ramsay reviewed their code and found a flaw in the logic that caused large dataset downloads to fail. He modified the code, tested it and provided the solution to SICAS, which accepted the code and is now incorporating the fix into their code. This effort by Ramsay positively impacted Binghamton’s ability to move large data sets with no issues, saving hours of staff time, and will now also benefit other SUNY schools who had been dealing with the same issue.

Information Technology Services (ITS) implemented Google classroom for the Center for Learning and Teaching so it can test methods for classroom collaboration and fostering better communication to students. It also created new organizations within the Google Apps environment to allow the Decker School of Nursing faculty to integrate Google Maps features into their research projects and to allow the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to use the YouTube integrations for research, teaching and documentation. These efforts have enhanced campus collaborative learning environments.

Based on requests from Binghamton and other SUNY schools, SICAS modified how software updates/patches were distributed; the process went to a bundled approach. This method has reduced the volume of patches/updates from individual to grouping, resulting in more efficient use of time needed to test and apply the updates and patches. The impact to offices on campus thus far has been favorable as testing time is reduced.

Phase 2 of the new room/event scheduling system, Infosilm, is underway. System integration is progressing well and ITS was recently able to merge calendar data to the digital messaging system. This will enable digital signage to have real-time space utilization capability based on the space calendar.

ITS worked with Spectrum to improve the University Live TV Streaming (SpectrumU) service package implemented for students this past summer. Recent enhancements now enable students to access SpectrumU via a single sign on and customize their accounts and personal preferences. Logic was added to allow for non-student cable users (classrooms) on campus to be added via a portal application, thus enhancing the learning environment for students. These are slight changes that provide long-lasting impact as students now feel like SpectrumU is their personal cable account!

Despite multiple information campaigns to the campus, the Information Security team continues to see University students, staff and faculty regularly fall prey to phishing attacks. Phishing attacks continue to increase in complexity and frequency, necessitating continual messaging through all available forums.

During the last three months the security team handled almost 150 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints and over 530 other security issues. The complexity of the complaints and issues often necessitates involving other IT support personnel and has at times required assistance from the campus attorney.

The Information Security team is investigating and testing IT security training modules that would join the suite of annual mandatory training modules for the campus. The intent is to present these modules to all staff and faculty with the desired end state to be a reduction in staff/faculty falling prey to phishing attacks, spear attacks, Trojans, etc.

Recently, the Information Security team was given approval to add the [EXTERNAL EMAIL] to all mail received from external sources. Testing has been going on with this. The [EXTERNAL EMAIL] labeling will appear on emails that do not originate from on campus, a.k.a. addressing, which will help individuals identify if an email is coming from an outside source or from within the Binghamton community. The only impact to users is that on the Title line, [EXTERNAL EMAIL] will appear before the title. This added email labeling helps quickly identify problem resolution efforts based on whether a message is internal or external.

Upgrades to technical infrastructure

The Technology Support team replaced and updated over 100 computers located in computer PODs or the Info Commons this summer. New printers were installed in public spaces and PaperCut, the print management software, was updated prior to the start of the fall semester.

The ITS systems team installed over 80 patches or updates for Banner systems this past summer. Each Banner patch or update requires significant testing from all the offices affected, such as Admissions. The coordination and teamwork between ITS staff and all offices is crucial in maintaining critical systems such as Banner.

ITS staff has completed 37 projects thus far this fiscal year and is actively working on 59 projects, with 44 projects waiting for resources (staff available, equipment, vendor support, etc.) and 15 projects on hold. Demand for ITS support continues, with almost 300 project requests submitted in the past two fiscal years, of which 188 have been completed.

ITS support to the University

Help Desk staff received over 2,000 calls for assistance and opened over 4,000 incidents in Service Now. Assistance ranged from a simple password reset to servicing a laptop. Top requests for assistance were: Blackboard, personal network drive, University-owned computers, passwords, BMail, phishing scams and wireless. Additionally, Help Desk staff scanned and scored over 30 academic tests in the past three months. Student printing for summer was down significantly, with over 700,000 B&W pages printed and over 11,000 color pages printed.

Operations and Infrastructure staff continue to work on several key capital projects such as the renovation of Onondaga Hall, Engineering Building, Hinman Dining Hall, physics area of Science 2 and the pharmacy building basement. Smaller projects, yet just as critical, were rewiring 355 door readers in Endicott, installation of six Morse Watchman key boxes, support for renovation of the University Union Post Office remodel, Science 3 FRI lab work, LN-G332 lab remodel, selected installation and testing of Axis interior speakers for Alertus/RAVE broadcasts, and support during replacement of the paid parking lot and garage kiosks. All of this work is on schedule.

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