Blog from February, 2015

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Last Friday, Lenovo announced and published an advisory warning consumers that software known as SuperFish had been included on certain consumer-grade computers shipped by Lenovo between September 2014 and February 2015. SuperFish delivers advertising to users while web browsing and has also been found to present a security risk. In response to consumer feedback, Lenovo has discontinued the practice and provided a removal tool for users of affected Lenovo products. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has also published an advisory.

Lenovo computers purchased by UT for university use or computers recommended to students through the laptop program are NOT affected and none have included SuperFish. SuperFish was distributed with Lenovo’s consumer-grade line of notebook computers only and was not shipped with any of the enterprise-grade ThinkPad line of computers that Drew provides. If you have purchased a Lenovo laptop for yourself or your department has purchased Lenovo products outside of normal channels, we recommend that you consult Lenovo’s advisory to see if your computer is affected and follow the provided instructions for removing the SuperFish software.

For more information on the Lenovo SuperFish vulnerability, please see the following sites:

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Dear Colleagues,

It has been just over two months since we announced the University Technology reorganization and I stepped into the role of Interim CIO. In that time, we have launched four important revitalization initiatives to enhance technology service to the community. I'd like to take a few minutes of your time to review the significant progress so far and what's still to come. Many of these changes are informed by the results of the Employee Technology Survey conducted this fall. We intend to issue a student oriented survey this spring, and both of these surveys will serve a vital role in our planning process going forward. I'd like to thank Gamin Bartle for leading the effort to administer this survey and Mike Richichi for writing the report, which you may read here.

As you read through the summaries of the work accomplished, they may strike you as different than a typical technology announcement. We are not pitching new tools that you can use with a lot of new features. That is deliberate. The four revitalization initiatives are focusing on the fundamental services that UT provides, reevaluating How and Why we deliver these services and not just What services we offer. The underlying motivation of each of these four initiatives is to either improve customer service or to eliminate unneeded complexity and reduce costs, freeing up resources for more important pursuits. Ensuring that the basic services are performing as effectively and efficiently as possible will put us in a better position to meet the evolving needs of Drew going forward. 

So what is it that we have been doing for the past two months?

  • User Services Revitalization - Starting January 26, we made the most significant change to our customer service model since the beginning of the computer initiative. Calls to the University Technology Service Center during business hours are now answered by members of the UT professional staff. Student assistants will continue to answer Service Center calls during evening and lunch hours and also serve as overflow operators for periods of unexpected high call volumes. By putting experienced staff on the front-line, we are able to resolve more incidents during the initial call. Full-time staff are also able to provide continuity and take a more active role in ensuring that an incident which requires additional research or engaging other areas of UT is resolved quickly and efficiently. If you haven't used the Service Center recently, I encourage you to do so. The number is 973-408-4357 (or HELP from your Drew phone). Read more about the User Services Revitalization here.
       
  • Computing Experience Revitalization -  UT's Operations team has been working to improve the most basic service any IT department provides, the computer on your desk. An important first milestone in this project has been to change the way your network drives work. By moving off of the Novell file servers to standard Windows servers, we are going to reduce software licensing costs and reduce complexity, but more importantly this change is a prerequisite for what will be coming later in the spring. We will be announcing new desktop management software for PCs which will automate keeping your computer healthy and up to date with patches and the current versions of Drew supported software. In addition, as more people rely upon the CloudPC service to access Windows-only Drew software from Macs and other devices, we have decided to invest in CloudPC and will be announcing a change to the more industry standard Citrix platform for CloudPC later this spring. Read more about the Computing Experience Revitalization here
      
  • Infrastructure Revitalization - UT is making a significant investment to bolster wireless network coverage in the student residence halls to meet current demand. This past week, based upon an engineer's site survey conducted in the Fall, we installed new wireless access points throughout the Tolley and Brown residence halls. This represents the highest density wireless deployment we have on-campus, with a dedicated access point installed per every two bedrooms. This deployment will serve as a model for other buildings on campus. Based upon a follow-up site survey, we will plan for wireless improvements in all student residence halls, with the bulk of the work to commence this Summer. 
      
    The campus telephone system will also be revamped. Drew's current phone system was installed in the late 1980s, is costly to operate, and lacks some basic expected calling features like Caller ID for off-campus calls. This January, work began in the installation of a new telephone system. The basic equipment is on-site and being configured. The first roll out of new phones will be to the 22 Madison building, which is not currently on Drew's phone system. Read more about the Infrastructure Revitalization here.
       
  • Administrative Systems Revitalization -  The Enterprise Applications team has been meeting with the major users of Banner to set priorities for changes and new functionality in the coming months. An initial priority for this Revitalization project has been to focus on the Finance area, in particular budget manager reporting. Working with the Finance team, new processes have been developed for managing and reporting on restricted funds which will be rolled out in the coming months. 

    In addition, UT has been able to acquire an easier to use web-based reporting tool which will supplement the existing Argos reports. Training for IBM Cognos for UT staff and a group of functional users was delivered in December and we are currently in the process of setting up a production installation of Cognos. Expect more information on Cognos in the coming months. Read more about the Administrative Systems Revitalization here

I would like to acknowledge the dedicated and talented UT staff who have responded to the call for change with professionalism and skill. Thanks to their efforts, significant progress has been made in a very short time period and there is much more to come. I would also like to thank Mike Groener and President Baenninger for their support of these initiatives. I am eager to hear your feedback on this or any other technology related concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at elarsson@drew.edu with your feedback.

Thanks!

-- Axel Larsson

 

Project Description

To improve the efficiency and customer service of Enterprise Application we have begun to meet with functional user departments to assess their ongoing needs and utilization of banner and related software systems.  These will include determining new banner work flows, use of banner document management and implementing new reporting tools with Cognos. 

An initial priority has been to meet with finance to develop accurate restricted funds reports for the budget managers.

Milestone

  • We have already met with a couple departments and meetings with additional departments have been scheduled, and in some cases rescheduled due to weather related school closings.
  • After detailed analysis several meetings have been held with Finance and advancement services and an action plan has been developed to provide more accurate restricted fund reports within the first quarter of this year.

Coming Next

  • We are working with University Technology Operations to develop a roll-out plan for the production Cognos reporting server
  • Enterprise Applications will be reaching out to more functional user departments to schedule review meetings
  • New space on uknow.drew.edu for tracking your functional software business process documentation.
  • Available training on using uknow.drew.edu

 

Enterprise Applications Team

Bill Schulz

Director of

Enterprise Applications

Scott Wood

Application Developer

and Consultant

Neil Clarke

Application Developer

and Consultant

Vincent Gimmelli

Application Developer

and Consultant

Peter Albar

Staff Technology

Consultant

 Project Description

Work on the Infrastructure Revitalization has already begun and includes an evaluation of and improvement of WiFi coverage in the student residence halls and replacement of the aging campus telephone system.

Milestone

  •  WiFi Improvements in Student Residence Halls, week of February 2 - 6 (weather permitting) 

A great deal of planning and preparation has been done on the improvement of WiFi coverage in the student residence halls. This process has included collecting data from student reports of WiFi issues, extensive WiFi signal testing, and bringing in outside consultants to review and refine placement of new WiFi Access Points (APs). The first residence halls that will see these improvements are Tolley and Brown.

On TuesdayWednesday and Thursday of this week, technicians will be installing additional APs throughout Tolley and Brown, focusing on dorm rooms to ensure good WiFi coverage for everyone. This is being done in coordination with Residence Life so that students will have advanced notice of when installers will need access to each room.

Coming Soon

This work is the foundation for further WiFi improvements in other residence halls on campus. University Technology will use student feedback and results from further signal strength testing as we plan and design the next installations.

 

WiFi  Improvement Team

Wayne Hunter
Director of Technology Infrastructure
Project Manager

Ethan Marsh

ITO Services Coordinator

Jason Slipoy

ITO Services Supervisor

John Holcomb

ITO Services Technician 

David Vega

Senior Telecom Technician

Shawn Spaventa

Coordinator
Instructional Media Support

Mike Richichi

Chief Technology Strategist

 

Oliver Tong

Manager of Classroom
and Media Technology

 

Chris Stave

Network Administrator

 

Steve Paddack

Audio/Visual Systems
Specialist