The dog days of summer are upon us here at VCU. This is also the time of the year where I see so many new students coming through our building as part of their orientation, reminding me of who I serve and the importance of the work we do here. This reminds me that the new school year is almost upon us, and that we have plenty of work to do to prepare. For this month’s update, I would like to highlight two important initiatives within Technology Services and also provide a a brief status on the September bike race.
IT Service Management Update
To further enable VCU Technology Services to support the VCU community and Quest for Distinction, VCU TS is working to develop an Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) program. Our goal is to provide demonstrable value to the VCU community by ensuring that VCU TS processes closely align with our customers’ needs, utilizing the proven ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework. We have already conducted an ITIL Foundations certification class this past spring for 20 of our staff and will conduct a second Foundations certification class this fall. We will also be changing Thom Mattauch’s role to ITSM Program Manager. In this role he will be working with other VCU TS staff, particularly in Application Services, to bring other ITSM-based modules online for our LANDESK Service Desk system. The next modules scheduled to be implemented are the Change Management and Asset Management modules. Thom will also be working on developing a VCU TS Service Catalog in the near term.
As we move forward with this program, all areas of VCU Technology Services will play a role in implementing IT Service Management. I firmly believe implementing the right components of the ITIL framework will help us be more accountable to our customers and to each other, which will improve service delivery and service outcomes. I will share more details about training opportunities and the availability of tools as they become available.
Active Directory Consolidation Completed
Active Directory (AD) is a directory service that uses Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Domain Name System (DNS) for authentication and management of user access to VCU network resources and applications. In order to simplify VCU’s authentication and authorization services, a project was started in July, 2013 to consolidate the multiple AD domains that had been in use at VCU – primarily HAS, ADM and ACAD1 – to one new domain called RAMS. Over the past two years, the project team has:
- Migrated 5,556 faculty and staff accounts
- Migrated all student accounts (added to AD).
- Migrated 4,793 groups.
- Migrated 6,644 PC /desktop devices.
- Migrated 163 servers.
- Migrated 121 CIFS or native file shares between networked servers.
- Moved approximately 44 TB of data
Led by Mayura Patel, the majority of the migration work was coordinated by 3 team members from Authentication and Directory Services in the Application Services group plus 4 staff members from the University Computer Center (UCC) for server and share migration. A total of 22 other Technology Services staff members were involved at some point with setup, issue resolution and migration of AD services including staff from Web Services, Network Services, and the UCC. In addition, other TS staff involved included team members from Application Services, Security, Desktop Support and the helpIT Center. Our partners in the various distributed IT units were also instrumental in helping to complete this migration. Congratulations to all involved in this critical and now completed project!
Having a single AD domain will allow us to improve the process of provisioning and de-provisioning accounts, simplify workflow automation, increase delegated administration, automate password synchronizations, and provide self-service password reset and better access control to university systems. With the completion of this work, we have seen immediate improvements: One of the first benefits was a simplified authentication method to the wireless network. Prior to the consolidation and use of AD, numerous and complicated processes and protocols were needed for different devices to connect to VCU SafeNet.
More importantly, the new RAMS domain becomes the foundation for the next TS project in this area – development and implementation of integrated Identity and Access Management or IAM. IAM describes the management of individual identities including their authentication, authorization, roles and privileges within or across systems and across the university. Our goal is to implement processes and tools that improve security, increase productivity, and provide for a hassle free user experience while decreasing cost, downtime, and repetitive tasks. I will communicate more about this project in the coming months.
Bike Race Update
Preparation continues for the UCI Road World Cycling Championships in Richmond on September 19-27 I have asked each director in Technology Services to submit to me and my Chief of Staff an operational plan detailing who will be telecommuting, who will be physically here, and how services will be impacted. All TS staff should be working with their managers and directors on arrangements and expectations for the week. Key decisions we have made include: closing VCUCard services on the Monroe Park campus and using the VCUCard office in Sanger Hall B-018 as the location for carding during the week; disabling the VCU Guest Wireless network during the week; and enabling some helpIT agents to work remotely. We had also strongly recommended to the race organizers and the City that mobile cell towers be brought in to accommodate the large number of devices that will be in our area and to ensure emergency communications can occur if needed. I have recently been advised that bringing in COWs (Cellular on Wheels) is now in the plans for the race. A July 20 email to the VCU community from the VCU Police provided much more information on building access plans and further communications. Beginning in August, a special Bike Race TelegRAM will be sent every Monday with updated information, and the most current information can also be found at http://richmond2015.vcu.edu/. This should be a very exciting event for Richmond and VCU.
Best wishes for a great summer and new school year,