Happy New Year! I have entered 2015 with resolutions aplenty and the optimism of a new year, which is good because we will continue to move full steam ahead on a fair number of IT projects and initiatives (which I have focused on in previous blogs and other communications — with further updates coming). For this month’s CIO update, please find below some noteworthy items that are on my mind as we enter 2015.
Educause Top 10 IT Issues
Educause has issued its annual Top 10 IT Issues for 2015. The report notes, “What is new about 2015? Nothing has changed. And everything has changed. ” As I reflect on the work I do every day, that does resonate with me. I encourage you to visit the EDUCAUSE top 10 IT issues web page for some thought provoking reading. As I have reviewed this list, I have considered VCU’s position, direction, and efforts in relation to the specific issues. I find that pretty much all of the identified issues are ones that we can see impacting us and driving us both strategically and operationally at some level. There are both real challenges and real opportunities. I am very interested in people’s thoughts on this, and I encourage you to let me know what you think about some of these.
Project Update – University Fiber Upgrade
Last September I reported on a comprehensive fiber upgrade plan that was developed to support network speeds of 40Gbs (Gigabits per Second) that will be required in the near future, and eventually speeds as high as 100Gbs. The plan also addresses topology issues, such as providing pathway redundancy to help provide business continuity in the event of damage to the infrastructure and strengthening the fiber infrastructure serving the MCV campus.
Phase one of the fiber upgrade plan was completed in the first half of 2014 and is providing additional fiber via a redundant pathway between Harris Hall and Cabell Library. Once the Cabell Library addition construction is complete, this link will provide primary connections between Monroe Park Campus routers and the core backbone network, as well as secondary links for MCV routers.
Phase two includes upgrading the fiber from the University Computer Center at 900 E. Main Street to the router locations on the MCV Campus. In addition to providing the primary links between the MCV Campus routers and the core backbone network, the cables will be sized to eventually support the secondary links to the Monroe Park Campus routers, as well as new lateral connections to many MCV Campus buildings. Additionally, the fiber will enter 900 E. Main via a different physical route from the rest of the existing fiber, providing disaster recovery options for the critical resources at the UCC.
Implementation of phase two of the fiber upgrade plan started in September 2014 as planned, but the planned completion date of January 2015 will be delayed. The majority of the fiber has been placed without incident, including the very challenging portions that traversed patient care areas. However, a blockage has been encountered in existing conduit that will require excavation in Broad Street to resolve. The repair work is expected to take only a day or two to complete, but several weeks need to be added to the project to accommodate the permitting process with the City of Richmond, and to allow scheduling to minimize impact to daily traffic. The new completion date has been set to March 2015.
New online survey tool – QuestionPro
QuestionPro has been adopted and implemented as the new standard for creating and managing online surveys and has been made available free of charge by the Provost and Technology Services to all faculty, staff and students at VCU. It provides an easy to use point-and-click interface where users can create and distribute surveys, collect responses and analyze the results all in one place. More information is available here.
Security is everyone’s responsibility
We continue to see many high profile cyber-attacks in the news, and our Security team is certainly seeing an elevated threat level in terms of network attacks and phishing scams. To that end, I remind you to make sure and complete the annual security training as well as to review our tips on how to protect your identity and personal information. Those of us who provide and support information technology have a special responsibility to make sure we support secure computing and communicate the best on-line safety practices to those we support.
Best wishes for a great 2015!