Technology Services: From the CIO

July, 2019 CIO Update »

I’m sometimes asked by people who work outside higher education what we do with all that “down time” in the summer.  Well, we certainly don’t stop working and in fact summer gets extremely busy as we complete projects and other work that’s harder to accomplish during the regular academic year.  Below are three examples of what our teams have recently accomplished this summer.

Next Generation Firewall Protection in Place

 As of July 1st, 2019 VCU is now connected to the Internet utilizing new firewall technology from Palo Alto Networks, which provides full application awareness regardless of how the applications are transmitted. This allows for the identification of malicious spyware, malware, botnets, and other nefarious activities. The firewall is a combination of high-end security analytical software, cloud-based machine learning, deep packet investigators and traditional network command and control filters. Palo Alto combines a subscription “Wild-Fire” analytical Cloud solution to push heuristicly machine learned malicious signatures for real-time deployment on the border firewall, thus eliminating issues prior to their transmission into the VCU environment. This combination of advanced machine learning tied with “dashboard” visibility allows the Technology Services Network and Security teams to monitor in real-time hundreds of thousands of data points while at the same time avoid overwhelming staff with “false positive” alerts. VCU is already benefiting from a much stronger and comprehensive security platform in the form of: URL blocking, threat prevention, application identification, full network packet captures, traffic identification to mitigate attacks, DNS reputation to avoid illegal and harmful sites, and the comprehensive in-depth real-time alerting and automated blocking of malicious software. The new firewalls are connected at 40 gigabits per second and will be moving to 100 gigabits per second in the near future. Phase 2 of this project, scheduled for later this fall, will see the internal firewalls replaced.

Optimized High Speed Campus Network Now Active

The campus core network, which interconnects all buildings and locations using VCU owned fiber optic cables, has been optimized and upgraded to 40 gigabits per second speeds with the intention of a further upgrade to 100 gigabits per second speeds in the coming year.  As part of the optimization to provide for higher speed connections, four legacy core routers have been removed from service, which has resulted in reduced cost and complexity. The functionality of these legacy campus routers has been moved to the four Cisco Nexus data center core routers and thereby leverages the 40 gigabit backbone “mesh” internetwork to provide for the integration of research, server, internet and campus traffic loads. This places VCU in the unique position of having low latency connections between data centers, campus and the internet while maintaining a high environmental quality at the state-of-the art renovated University Computer Center and live backup site located in Harris Hall’s 4th floor data center. Researchers, faculty, staff and students will see the benefits of the increased speeds and frictionless access when working with large downloads, live video streaming, data set transfers and high bandwidth campus events such as conferences, sporting events and other large gatherings.

VCU Hosts Inaugural ACCS Desktop Support Summit 

VCU hosted the Inaugural ACCS Desktop Support Summit on July 23rd with approximately 50 desktop managers and technicians representing nine public and private higher education institutions from Virginia including Bridgewater College, Christopher Newport University, Eastern Mennonite University, George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, and Washington & Lee University. Vendors and participants covered topics such as new operating systems from Apple, the Dell hardware roadmap, supporting macOS with Jamf Pro, Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration strategies, and meeting higher performance computing needs. 

Desktop Services was well represented with Daniel Reiner and Jordan Burnette presenting Jamf/macOS Support at VCU as well as Warren Mays and Frank Pitchford (pictured) presenting Proactive IT in the Reactive Desktop World. Ryan Davis co-hosted the event with his ACCS Desktop Support SIG co-chair Brian Klotz of Old Dominion University. Logistics and catering support was provided by Hope Adams of the IT Service Management Office. 

The Desktop SIG co-chairs intend for the event to rotate hosting throughout the state in the coming years seeking to expose desktop support technicians to new technologies, processes, and service delivery concepts. They are also looking to continue to build and grow interest in the SIG through a possible pre-conference day/session before the upcoming ACCS 2020 conference in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Thanks to all for the great work and best wishes for an excellent rest of summer!


June, 2019 CIO Update »

For this month's entry, I'd like to announce an exciting new enterprise agreement that's been a long time coming as well as highlight Technology Services' use of exciting new technology in the form of 3D printing. Announcing the Adobe ETLA VCU recently signed an ETLA (Enterprise Term Licensing Agreement) for Adobe Creative Cloud. This license prov . . .

May, 2019 CIO Update »

Happy Summer!  For this month's entry, I'm pleased to announce that Technology Services has implemented a service delivery model for VCU's new print program.  I also want to highlight upcoming changes to Google and Listserv services.  Please see below for more. OnePrint begins full service For those of you that are not familiar, OnePrint is a man . . .

April, 2019 CIO Update »

April has been a busy month for Technology Services.  As announced previously, we have begun implementing our new IT Service Management tool, Cherwell.  We are also in the final stages of preparing for the May 13 go-live of RealSource, VCU's new eProcurement system. For this month's entry, I'd like to feature two other changes in the services we offer . . .

March, 2019 CIO Update »

For this month's entry, I would like to feature the completion of renovations to the Technology Services space in the basement of Cabell Library, something we started working on in earnest in 2013.  I'd also like to continue the overview of TS departments with a look at Telecommunications Services as well as remind everyone of the Tech Fair next week. . . .

February, 2019 CIO Update »

This month, I would like to highlight an internally focused initiative within Technology Services as well as remind you of a career development opportunity. Service Reviews In alignment with Quest 2025 and the VCU Administration Strategic Priorities, we are striving to streamline TS operations, encourage individual staff growth, and to work toward . . .

January, 2019 CIO Update »

While it is certainly a little brisk in Richmond today, I am reminded of why leaving Chicago to come here made so much sense for me.  With Spring semester now in full swing, I'd like to highlight two exciting changes to VCU's technology portfolio. New IAM System is live It's my pleasure to report that VCU's new Identity and Access Management syst . . .

December, 2018 CIO Update »

As we prepare for the Spring semester, I wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season and happy new year.  I am particularly thankful for the Technology Services team members who are here working or are on call over the break supporting our colleagues in the Health Systems and research areas as well as making sure our infrastructure and servic . . .

November, 2018 CIO Update »

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! For this month's entry, I'd like to highlight three services we have been working on for quite some time that have moved from pilot phase to be fully in production. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Authentication Project is in production through a collaborative effort involving the UCC, Network Services, App . . .

October, 2018 CIO Update »

Due to an error on my part, I missed publishing this a couple weeks ago.  Please consider this my October blog, and please look out for my November entry after Thanksgiving.  Today's entry features our exciting new printing initiative, our work to improve accessibility, and our Student Technology Advisory Committee. Coming soon: Campus-wide print i . . .

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We are responsible for implementing and supporting the technology used around campus, such as the network, phones, enhanced classrooms, and Internet-based systems including myVCU, Blackboard, email, and more.

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