Information Technology Services, spring 2023
For the first time in several years, ITS participated in the on-campus student job fairs held in February. Over the course of two days, almost 200 students stopped to talk to ITS staff about IT careers and what employment opportunities ITS offered for students and upcoming graduates. Students were referred to ITS job postings in HireBing and the ITS professional listings on the HR website regarding actual application procedures and documents needed. Several prospective student employees and soon-to-be-graduating students were identified for possible employment opportunities.
Enterprise Systems and Applications Group
The Enterprise System and Applications (ESA) group worked with the Information Security group and the Technical Support group in anticipation of a gradual release of Banner 9 SSB functions. The Banner 9 upgrade has been underway for several months and necessitates extensive testing and customization of user access privileges and software code. The gradual release of Banner 9 functions enables ITS, in concert with critical offices such as admissions and student accounts, to capitalize on key features of the software in a more of a ”just-in-time” upgrade. Recent configuration changes enabled the faculty grading and student registration process to be customized to a department’s specifications.
Also; during this time frame, ESA continued its implementation of increasingly stringent access protocols for our domain name system (DNS) servers. This project is over 90% complete. Concurrently, the ESA team updated the Central Authentication Service (CAS) to clear out 22,000 unassigned MFA tokens.
Other ESA accomplishments included:
- The Banner Ellucian Solution Manager (ESM) was updated to allow additional links to be placed on a Student’s Profile page.
- The VMWare failover site hardware, and software design was completed.
- In response to a recent SUNY alert regarding a potential VMWare vulnerability, ITS installed patches to remediate this vendor-identified vulnerability.
- Google changed its storage model for Google Workspace for Education from unlimited storage to a pooled storage.
- An update of the Maximo (Work Order software for PF) system with improved maintenance management software and solutions.
Network Administration Operations and Infrastructure
During the last three months, the third-floor Library renovation project necessitated several power outages in portions of the library. In each instance, the ITS networking staff ensured that affected networking devices had an alternate power supply during the power shutdowns to maintain connectivity for all affected areas. Last month, there was an unscheduled power outage in the West Gym that impacted not only the West Gym but other buildings in the immediate area.
Projects that the Operations and Infrastructure team have been busy with are:
- Replacing network switches in CIW, Hillside Commons, Windham Hall, C4 and Science 1.
- Installing new firewall hardware (Student firewall project) with a project completion date in April.
- Phase 2 of the VPN AAA (Authorize, Allocate, Authenticate) project is progressing well. Access roles for vendors were created; each of these roles are customized by vendor needs.
- The VDI environment was modified to enable Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) capability. GPU capability is a specialized processor designed to accelerate graphics rendering to support ever-increasing graphical demands.
- Additional panic buttons were installed in selected areas of the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
- Operations and Infrastructure processed 12 bins of electronic waste in early January as part of the University’s Operation Cleanup.
- Ordered, received and installed additional storage capacity for outdoor camera CCTV footage systems. (Increased retention capability).
A major networking project is the life-cycle replacement of approximately 3,000 wireless access points (WAP). Currently, Network Administration has undertaken a project to assess WAPs from three different vendors by actually testing them on campus to determine the next generation WAPs we will procure and deploy. At the conclusion of this project, we will start a multi-year project to life-cycle replace them with the selected product.
Telecommunications announced to the campus to upgrade to the latest Mitel software for voice communications. This is another example of how ITS and Telecommunications continue to implement higher levels of security and protected communication protocols.
Information Security Group
Information Security, collaborating with ESA, enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) on Microsoft 365 access for students, faculty and staff. This was a major milestone as it enabled 2FA on all enterprise systems.
Information Security, the Networking Team and the ESA Team worked with the Fleishman Career Center to improve awareness of students about phishing emails falsely promising jobs. Information Security sent targeted intentional phishing emails to a small group of students. Any recipient who clicked on the links in the email was directed to an informational website explaining job phishing emails.
Additional projects presently underway or recently completed were:
- Information Security provided updated cybersecurity slides for the annual Binghamton University Internal Controls compliance training module.
- The team worked with the ITS Security Infrastructure and Support team to review and update the existing process of requesting access to security camera footage. The new process includes an updated request form with automated approval notifications for leadership in the requestor’s department and the steering committee for the video management.
- SUNY IT Procurement Audit of IT campus response was completed.
- Renewed the Endpoint Detection and Response configuration.
- Created virtual machines to host security scanning software to more effectively scan for and monitor University network risks.
Technology Support Services (TSS) Group
Early this year the Tech Support team identified an increased demand for students to print directly from their personal Apple devices. Once PaperCut had a software resolution, it was implemented and now students can print to public lab/POD printers directly from their personal Apple devices. This is a significant convenience for the students.
The technical support group has been one of the areas in ITS that faced staffing challenges. Through robust searches and adoption of a different hiring practice; the Technical Support group has been able to fill almost every vacancy with qualified staff. This practice will help TSS to continue to provide the high level of service that the campus has come to expect.
Our first point of contact from a user with an issue is the Help Desk. The chart to the left shows total calls received and calls resolved at the Help Desk, which is approximately 52% (or 2,000 calls) of all received calls. The Help Desk goal is to fully resolve a call within eight hours or less. Some top service requests consisted of new employee HR requests, 2FA/Google 2-step help, phishing response and remediation, student U-Drive requests, computer assistance and setup, and more.
Other areas within TSS continue to provide excellent support:
- The ResCons resolved a multitude of service calls and were able to handle 20 student computer hardware issues without having the students seek assistance from a vendor.
- The D2L Brightspace support provided by Tami Regulski is superb. She supported and resolved 225 help requests from the faculty.
- The current laptop loaner program continues to be very successful since inception in the spring of 2020. Students appreciate that there are loaner laptops to use when their device is being worked on. Forty-five ITS loaner laptops were signed out by students in the last three months.
- The Help Desk assisted a significant number of campus employees with logging into their annual compliance training. This marked increase in staff and faculty requests for assistance between Christmas and New Year’s is attributed to employees completing the training while off campus.
- The Technical Support Analyst team worked with the Help Desk staff to enable them to safely remote into a campus user’s computer. This secure process, done with the approval of the user, enables the staff to perform first-level triage and has increased the closure rate of trouble tickets at the Help Desk level.
- The POD support team installed LiveMaps in a public lab. This is a search software tool that enables students to search for software and its availability at the various campus locations, thus saving the student immeasurable time going from location to location to find the necessary software.
Innovation and Research Computing Support Group
The Research Computing and Support Team recently completed a pilot of a 300TB research storage service offering that will be made available to researchers at Binghamton University. The pilot was completed at the end of January with positive feedback from individual participants, and is set to go live as a production service offering in the coming months. This drastically expands the high-capacity storage options available to Binghamton University researchers. This new system will also serve as the data storage and access mechanism for the fMRI that will be made available around the same time. We are actively working with UHS hospitals as well as various researchers to makes sure that we are ready to support the fMRI from a data access perspective when it arrives.
The Innovation Team recently completed a number of projects including various updates to the Commencement signup systems (for students, faculty and staff) in support of May 2023 Commencement. Additionally, the Innovation Team completed work on a number of different Research Foundation HR Workflows that are slated to go live in early April. These two projects will provide additional streamlined self-service offerings for students, faculty, staff and RF employees, and reduce the substantial overhead associated with those processes currently. The Innovation Team is additionally in active collaboration with the Provost’s Office in regard to a complete rewrite of the Annual Faculty Reporting system that will open up in May. This new system will provide mechanisms for capturing a wide variety of additional data points, and provide significantly improved data integrity and reporting capabilities over the system it replaces. The Innovation team continues to grow and expand the capabilities of the new Identity and Access Management system (originally implemented in the spring of 2022), and has added support for the new TimeTap student scheduling system, as well as existing systems including myBinghamton and Zoom.
ITS staff promotions and new hires
ITS congratulates and welcomes new employees and promotions:
- Doug Russell, promoted to assistant director of Technical Support Services.
- Michael Viera, hired as a Help Desk analyst for the Technical Support ITS Help Desk team.
- Stephan Murray, transferred to the Technical Support Services team as a technical support analyst.
- John Nolan, hired as a technician for the Telecommunications team.
- Joe Turdo, hired as the business manager for the Division of Operations and ITS.
- Emily Sanderson, hired as a project manager for the Project Management team in ITS.
- Michael Putano, hired as a technician for the Security Infrastructure and Systems team in ITS.
- Genevieve Vallerga completed a workshop on ADA Employee Accommodations.
- Genevieve Vallerga and Rick Shumaker attended the workshop on Maximizing the Student Employee Experience.
- Technical Support Team’s Rick Shumaker and Help Desk staff attended an internal JAMF training (run by Technical Support’s Cheryl Tarbox).
- The Help Desk team, along with the Technical Support team, completed the internal Goverlan training given by Kim Smey..
- Kudos go to the ITS Help Desk’s Interim Assistant Director Genevieve Vallerga for receiving her certification for Leadership Essentials from Cornell University.
- Lauri Arnold was selected for the March 2023 PROPS Award for her overall dedicated service to the University and specifically for her support to student systems. Arnold takes the time to understand the business needs of a functional area and translates that into a seamless technological solution. She is always thinking in terms of what will benefit students and those who serve them.