Information Technology Services activities, summer 2022
Information Technology Services (ITS) efforts over the past several months have concluded or are concluding with success on multiple fronts. A redesign of our decades-old Accounts Management system and implementation of an Identity Access Management system is nearing full implementation and all efforts thus far have been more successful than anticipated. The implementation of Google 2-step authentication, which complements the two-factor authentication process that began at the end of 2021, went “live” in May with no significant interruption of access for our users. The migration to a consolidated network domain that started earlier this year has concluded with, in essence, zero calls or issues from network users. These behind-the-curtain initiatives are a multi-pronged effort to modernize systems that supplement and increase network and computer account access security.
The spring semester ended our first full academic year using the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS). Feedback from faculty and students has been overwhelmingly positive. Retiring the Blackboard LMS was a huge step for the University as Blackboard had been in use and upgraded constantly for over 20 years. The Brightspace LMS meets the current and anticipated emergent needs of faculty and students.
Another significant support effort was the services ITS provided to support the University’s Launch Day in April for its comprehensive gifts campaign. This event needed specialized network and Wi-Fi access with a secure onboarding process. The success of Launch Day is an indication of ITS efforts to once again support an event behind the curtain.
For the first time in two years, the University is returning to fully in-person Orientation sessions for incoming students. ITS staff is excited to once again meet and greet summer transfer, international and new students during the multiple Orientation sessions held in June and July. By far, ITS has found that in-person conversations held during these sessions have resulted in a higher student satisfaction rate for our services.
Presently, ITS is focused on completing as many summer projects as possible; whether upgrading Wi-Fi in the residence halls or continuing our efforts to provide increased secure network access and/or data protections; ITS will be extremely busy.
Enterprise Systems and Applications Team
The Enterprise Systems and Applications (ESA) Team was heavily involved in the above efforts; additionally, other major projects and tasks completed this past quarter include:
- Created an additional CAS server to reduce ‘potential’ system overload and redistributed server workloads across all CAS hosts. This effort provides faster response times and increased performance of CAS lookups/authentications.
- Worked with the ITS Security team to block identified phishing attempts and secure any compromised Binghamton access accounts.
- Updated BU Windows IIS servers and the Bingdev environment with increased security measures.
- Worked with other ITS staff to complete the migration from the PODS domain to the new, more secure BU domain. Updated the quickpay app to utilize the BU domain for authentication.
- The next phase of moving data storage from our reliable but aging iSCSi environment (an internet protocol-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities) to a full virtual VMDK server has begun. It is another several-months-long project that is critical to maintaining services and data access to all of our constituents.
- Disaster Recovery pre-planning efforts continued with our VMWare failover site; the design and structure was completed in April and work on the next phase has begun.
- Worked with geography and the Information Security team to update/secure the geoserver.
- Completed the second phase of the nursing online.binghamton.edu project.
- As new and emergent vaccination requirements unfold, the ESA team continues to work closely with the Decker Student Health Services team to ensure all reporting and data capture needs are met. A recent accomplishment was implementing the vaccination verification interface with SUNY to accommodate new booster data collection and reporting requirements.
- Updated configurations and completed test score articulation with Slate (the platform for admissions and enrollment, student success and alumni/advancement).
- Banner 9 SSB implementation and upgrade continues; this allows insight and configuration of the system.
- Created an autostart (cost-effective) process and updated the EC2 with Linux patches for our AWS systems.
- Installed updates in Infosilem (to comply with the Oracle 19c model), Shibboleth, BANPROD, BANQA and BANDEV for student account systems.
- Installed and configured Public Computer Lab G01 with a new, improved and more secure access system.
- Updated the revenue web process and modified the delete process within the query to reduce weekly job execution time from nine hours to two hours.
- Upgraded the Choconut server to support increased space requirements for the Oracle databases.
Network Administration Operations and Infrastructure
The Network Administration Operations and Infrastructure (O&I) Team was heavily involved in the above efforts. Additionally, other major projects and tasks completed this past quarter were:
- Significant support provided for University Launch Day event: deployed a custom “branded” Wi-Fi network for Launch Day that provided a more immersive experience for attendees, created guest accounts for production staff to facilitate their support of the event, deployed specially configured network switches with additional Wi-Fi units in areas where attendees would congregate, and worked extensively with BSI Productions to address event streaming needs and completed appropriate testing of all technology prior to the event.
- Connected T-Mobile to our University Distributed Antenna System (DAS). This completes our connection of the three major cellular providers in the U.S. (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) to our “in-building” cellular network. Having all major cellular carriers connected to our DAS provides a more robust cellular signal into University spaces that previously had little to no cellular signal.
- Planned the high-density Wi-Fi deployment in the Events Center.
- Completed the design plans for networking, telecom, coor and CCTV for the Pharmacy R&D and new Welcome Center projects
- Application/Web Server Network Segment for the RFI servers was completed. This improves the secure access to these servers and involved the creation of a research network segment, firewall segment, etc.
- Completed the removal of BGM domain, completed the deployment of dynamic VLANs for Extrons and security cameras, data/phone cabling installations completed in Science 4 and Science 2 tower projects, and the data cabling in EB D1 lab is complete.
- Completed installation of additional fiber optic from the Events Center to the West Gym. This allows for future expansion of the network into the Events Center, as well as expanded opportunities for streaming of events, etc.
- All necessary (network supported) systems were successfully online for the first baseball game: completed necessary training on new equipment, integrated a different vendor’s score controller with both legacy and new systems, and a substantial number of card readers and CCTV installed.
The Information Security Team was involved in the above efforts; additionally, other major projects and tasks completed this past quarter included:
- Splunk TV configuration and upgrade that enables the University to broadcast security dashboards to smart TVs or phones.
- Splunk On call “after business day” alert capability was enabled, thus freeing staff to focus on other tasks and help mitigate staff fatigue due to monitoring systems 7x24x52.
- Utilized the success of Splunk On call, successfully integrated Carbon Black alerts into Splunk.
- Google 2-Step Verification was implemented May 24 with nominal impacts to over 30,000 regular system users. This supplements the campus-wide requirement for multi- factor authentication (MFA) initiated at the beginning of this year.
- Network scanning for suspicious and potentially malicious actors is done constantly. Any issues found are researched and mitigated.
- Medicat MFA proof of concept was configured and we implemented MFA on a single account for testing. Medicat DUO MFA exclusion for IPs within Decker School of Nursing treatment rooms.
Technology Support Services (TSS)
Technical Support Services, specifically the Help Desk, provided support for BU Domain migration, Google 2-Step, password issues, phishing scams and computer software and hardware help. The Help Desk’s top nine categories for assistance were:
- Phishing scam report (345 service tickets)
- University-owned computer (290 service tickets)
- 2FA CAS (160 service tickets),
- 2-Step Google (150 service tickets)
- Brightspace (125 service tickets)
- Bmail account (100 service tickets)
- Personal network drive (100 service tickets)
- ResCons (40 service tickets)
- Gradescope (20 service tickets)
The Technical Support Analysts Team received almost 700 requests for assistance and averaged approximately five days to resolve each request. Even though the resolution time crept up, TSS expects that to drop significantly as the newly hired technical support analysts (two in ITS and one in UPD) become fully trained. Public computer lab usage logins (38,000) increased by 42.1% from the fall semester (22,000). BingView (VDI) logons remained fairly constant at about 2,900 sessions. Printing in the public labs continues to decrease with just over 650,000 pages printed in the public labs, a significant reduction from last quarter ofapproximately 200,000 pages.
The Technical Support Team supported the above efforts. Additionally, other major projects and tasks completed this past quarter included:
- ITS added Turnitin’s Draft Coach product to Binghamton’s Google Doc Add-Ons for all to use. This plagiarism checking add-on allows anyone to run a report that will check a Google Doc for similarity against Turnitin’s vast database.
- Bubble Sheet Tests and Assignments have transitioned to Gradescope, which is now integrated into the Brightspace LMS.
- Major upgrade made to the bMobi App, which now utilizes an authenticated component and native integration with CAS 2FA.
- Pushed live a Binghamton Foundation payroll deduction e-form such that Binghamton University and Research Foundation staff can opt in to Binghamton Foundation payroll deductions automatically.
- Faculty sabbatical and Title F Leave forms were moved online through two new workflows/E-Forms within the myBinghamton portal.
And finally, these major projects have begun or are continuing:
- Distribution of 2022 bulk computer purchase/computer replacements.
- Help Desk project on documentation for identifying use cases and developing procedures.
- Substantial progress made with the Research Computing Pilot program.
- Significant progress on developing policies/procedures related to the new “BingIAM” system.
- ITS and TSS are actively working with the Center for Learning and Teaching and other groups as we replace ServiceNow with TeamDynamix, a Saas-based IT Service Management tool that also includes Project Portfolio Management and Integration Platform that is highly customizable and user-friendly with automated features. Planning has begun as we roll out TeamDynamix with designing the look of our new Self-Service portal as migration begins from ServiceNow.
Emerging Technology Studio (ETS)
ETS built a new 3D printer to keep up with the increasing 3D printing load. The team also hired three new students to work in the ETS studio in the Technology Hub.
The ITS Research Support team hired one new student for fall 2022, with the intent to assist with research support tasks.
ITS continues to successfully recruit new staff
- Scott Kavulich started April 14 - Technical Support Analyst for TSS
- Michael Keogh started April 28 - Technical Support Analyst for TSS
- Cory Norkaitis started May 12- Technical Support Analyst for TSS
- Steve Moore started May 26- LINUX Systems Administrator for ESA.
We are presently searching for additional personnel to fill positions on the Enterprise Systems and Applications Team and the Security Operations Team.
- Patrick Doyle and Kim Smey attended a four-day, intensive, hands-on training program on SCCM. SCCM is a quasi-automated Microsoft lifecycle management solution designed to track computers residing on a network, assist in application installation, and apply updates and security patches; all done via the network.
- Gary Dewey and Mike Behun attended Dell Technology’s “Kevin Mitnick Hacking Secrets.” Interesting side note: This event used Oculus (Meta) Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headsets.
- ITS congratulated Kim Smey for receiving the February 2022 Professional Staff Senate PROPS Award for making substantive contributions to the University as a whole. She has done great work as a technical support analyst, in particular since COVID impacted the campus.
- ITS congratulated Tami Regulski for receiving the June 2022 STAR Award for going “above and beyond” to ensure all courses were migrated online during COVID. She was recognized for her pivotal role in ensuring that the Brightspace LMS implementation was a success.