Delivering Operational Excellence

UBIT works with colleagues all over campus to deliver desktop support, device management and creative solutions for contemporary work and research.

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Collaborating with distributed IT community

VPCIO staff partner with distributed IT colleagues to ensure UBIT is providing efficient and effective solutions for business needs and customer profiles. Leadership from administrative and academic units meet at least monthly to discuss and prioritize projects and ensure consistent and compliant service delivery across the university.

IT working groups composed of central and distributed IT staff connect diverse perspectives, business functions and working environments. The collaboration helps identify challenges and opportunities existing within a highly complex IT environment. IT working groups help UBIT design and implement formalized technical training programs and to set operational and technical standards.

UBIT also hosts a series of “tech reviews,” which are forums that allow all distributed and central IT staff to review the latest services or changes in more technical detail. These forums are a mix of brief town hall style talks that end in roundtable discussions.

The VPCIO’s area often serves as consultants to the distributed IT community. The consulting role is mutually beneficial as it promotes shared learning experiences and fosters more efficient business practices.

VPCIO staff also assist with classroom and laboratory computer imaging, virtual desktop and traditional computer lab management for School of Management, University Libraries and the Law School.

Student Life VPIT transition

During Summer 2017, Student Life IT Services were incorporated into the VPCIO’s area. UBIT now supports IT services for Student Life, the VP for Finance & Administration, University Communications and the Office of the President. The support model includes desktop support, application support, technical project support and IT procurement consultation.

UBIT has made great strides to support a seamless and effective service transition. Service support initiatives include:

  • Consolidating Executive Support for 4th-5th Floor and 1Capen
  • Refreshing Capen Hall Executive Conference Spaces
  • Applying new security standards
  • Introducing Box and Box Drive for file storage
  • Upgrades to Windows 10 and Office 2016
  • Standardizing departmental software and configuration
  • Implementing SCCM System to aid in software deployment and management
  • Establishing consulting services
  • Consolidating requests into the UBIT Help Center Online
  • Providing event support and equipment loan

Partnership for transition of Research Institute of Addictions

UBIT has worked with the Research Institute of Additions to transition to enterprise IT services, such as UBmail powered by Exchange, UBIT firewall, VPN and VLAN services, virtual machine hosting and database hosting as department IT support services, including workstation support. The goal is to create economies of scale for all parties and provide for future IT infrastructure and support needs.

Managing devices across the university

Device management offers faculty and staff a more efficient support environment and also allows for more robust device security.

To manage Windows devices across decanal units, UBIT has deployed SCCM. This service runs on Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager and has managed computers in UB’s public computing sites for over 10 years. SCCM offers UB the ability to:

  • Deploy operating system images to new hardware, or re-image existing machines
  • Create and deploy your own applications, or choose from a library of common software
  • Gather managed machines into collections based on name or login
  • Take inventory of hardware and software, and generate reports
  • Collaborate with other departments securely

UBIT will also offer advanced privilege software such as Make Me Admin to allow faculty and staff members with legitimate requirements to update academic or research-required software on university-owned computers, without the risk of running an administrative account at all times.

Customer discounts through vendor relations

The Device Standards Group, chaired by Martin Camacho, Assistant Dean for Technology with the College of Arts and Sciences, has successfully negotiated with Dell to offer the same systems available to the institution to students, faculty and staff for personal use.

The pricing model is the same, but they are required to pay sales tax. The Device Standards Group is currently working with other vendors to try to offer the same discount to campus constituents.

Modernizing IT services

Over the last few years, UBIT has focused on modernizing our infrastructure. All mainframe applications have since been retired.

In January 2018, the Wings web hosting service was retired after over 20 years. As a result of combined efforts with University Communications and administrative and academic units across campus, a total of 480 sites were reviewed, 300 of which were decommissioned. The remaining 180 sites were migrated into the UBCMS or WebApps.

WebApps is a container solution that uses RedHat Openshift. It uses a software code repository (UBVCS) for managing scripts and provides each organizational or developer unit autonomy. Unlike Wings, WebApps offers the ability to routinely upgrade the software and operating system. It is a flexible, scalable solution that can grow with university demands. WebApps allows developers to select from a variety of tools including PHP, Perl, Node. js, .NET, Java, Ruby, Python and MySQL.

In 2016, UBIT deployed a line of adapter rings to each centrally-scheduled classroom. These allow faculty members to connect nearly any device directly to the teaching station for instruction purposes. The teaching station is equipped with a VGA, HDMI and 1/8 inch audio cable.

Strategic staffing and procurement

Thanks to increased automation and strategic relocation of some services to the cloud, UBIT continues to strategically align staff to top priorities. Central and distributed UBIT staff are evaluating the feasibility of implementing Low-Code development  platforms. These platforms enable application software creation through graphical customer interfaces and configurations rather than through traditional computer programming. Low-Code platforms will enhance the productivity of application developers and the speed by which new innovative applications can be deployed. These platforms support enterprise and distributed application development and utilize both cloud and on-premise virtual deployment platforms. These tools will be utilized by UBIT’s application services team in order to:

  • Remediate at-risk applications
  • Facilitate integration between on-premise and cloud applications
  • Facilitate agile development for new applications

From the procurement side, UBIT has worked to consolidate similar contracts and conduct competitive awards. Whenever possible, similar products are consolidated to avoid duplication. A comprehensive trade-off analysis for cloud vs. on-premise is conducted.

Data governance and project prioritization

The University Data Governance and Project Prioritization and Reporting Initiative is a collaborative effort that brings together the VPCIO area and university partners. Its purpose is to align IT priorities with university objectives, promote project awareness and foster engagement and input on university data and project priorities.

The Data Governance & Prioritization Council was commissioned by the Provost in 2016 and an IT Portfolio Advisory Committee supports the counsel’s initiative review.

The Data Governance Council includes university leadership and provides strategic data and systems oversight. The council:

• Provides executive guidance on data definitions and processes

• Reviews university IT projects for status and alignment to university priorities

• Sets priority order for top IT system projects

• Resolves policy, resource, and alignment conflicts

• Reviews and provides guidance to the Provost with respect to initiatives or programs that require university investment