This monthly newsletter is sent to the Michigan IT community to provide updates, answer questions, and spark conversation about the projects that the university is undertaking as part of NextGen Michigan, a university-wide effort to improve IT services and invest in technologies that support U-M's current and future needs. Please direct questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we bid farewell to some extraordinary leaders and prepare to welcome new ones, I am mindful of the changes we regularly experience here at the University of Michigan and in higher education in general. From priming administrators and altering curricula, to welcoming incoming students and renovating campus buildings, academia is always evolving and changing.
Change is, in part, what inspired the Michigan IT vision: to collaboratively provide unparalleled IT services that constantly adapt to best meet evolving campus needs. Strategic adaptation will be our modus operandi in the coming months, as we rely on our collective expertise and professional bonds to navigate the transformations ahead.
In light of this, I hope you will join me in welcoming Terry Houser to his new role as director of the MiWorkspace project. Terry is committed to working closely with schools, colleges, and units to understand their unique needs, incorporate feedback for continuous improvement, and ensure MiWorkspace is sound, stable, and tuned to the need of our academic and research units. Under the guidance of our current pilot units -- including parts of LSA, the University Library, and the School of Education -- ITS already has made changes both large and small to better meet the needs of our academic and research partners going forward.
I am confident that the changes we have made and those that lie ahead will bring opportunities to enhance the IT environment at U-M. I welcome these opportunities and hope you will too.
I am interested in hearing from you—what changes you are looking for, what changes you are making, and what benefits you believe we'll gain from these efforts to adapt to our ever-changing U-M world. Send me a message at email@example.com or connect with me via Google+.
From time to time, the NextGen/CIO newsletter features your NextGen stories, highlighting ways that schools, colleges, and units are using new technologies for faster innovation, team-based learning, and collaboration. How are you using NextGen technologies?
Laura Patterson invites you to join in the discussion. Share your NextGen story.
The School of Dentistry Office of Admissions used Google Apps Script, Google Drive, Google Sites, and Google Mail to successfully redesign their admissions interview process.
For several years, the Office of Admissions at the School of Dentistry sought an efficient way for applicants to schedule their interview. The office relied on email and phone calls to schedule 30 candidates and 30 interviewers per day: a total of 300 candidates and 300 interviewers for the 10-day admission interview cycle. Each candidate met individually with 10 different interviewers over a two-hour session (think speed-dating). Feedback was captured on paper forms and then manually entered into a spreadsheet. The challenge: Schedule and capture feedback from 3,000 interviews over a 10-day period.
Here's how they did it:
Since 2012, more than 50 different units and departments at U-M have subscribed to MiServer and MiDatabase, U-M's on-premise, or private, cloud services (see sidebar.) The result has been the reduction of more than 650 servers, allowing the NextGen Cloud Computing project to achieve one of its primary goals: to reduce the number of physical servers in schools, colleges, and units.
Jeff Wright, IT Director in the Housing Information Technology Office and subscriber to the MiServer and MiDatabase services, says, "We no longer run our own virtual environment (saving on both hardware and licensing) and have been able to take physical server hardware out of our replacement cycle as [those servers] move to the virtual environment. We've also been able to decommission our server room in West Quad in advance of a building-wide renovation beginning this spring."
Reducing physical servers not only eliminates the need to purchase and maintain hardware, allowing more staff and resources for mission-critical work, it also aims to reduce costs. The overall server reduction has resulted in combined hardware, staff, power, and facility savings of approximately $600,000, which meets the project's original savings goals.
With the introduction of the M Cloud offering of Amazon Web Services in March, there are now more options for schools, colleges, and units to reduce their physical infrastructure and choose a private or public cloud service that is right for them.
While the University Housing office is not currently using public cloud services, Jeff says he's "willing to look at any that might meet our needs." For now, he finds value in U-M's private cloud offerings, adding, "MiServer and MiDatabase [have] been great and rock solid for us since the beginning."
The MiWorkspace service currently supports 11,271 MiWorkspace customers (both faculty/staff and temporary and/or student employees) on 6,200 devices (including both Windows and Macintosh platforms, as well as shared machines) in 48 units/departments across 123 unique locations in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Lansing, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Washington D.C., England, and China.
See which campus units have transitioned to MiWorkspace, or are in the process of transitioning, on the MiWorkspace project site.
Lunch & Learn sessions are hosted monthly on relevant MiWorkspace and other technical topics. These are open to ITS Service Desk, Neighborhood IT, MiWorkspace Engineering Teams, the ITS Depot, and unit IT staff from across campus. Invitations are sent monthly to internal ITS staff and unit IT leaders to share with their teams.
The next Lunch & Learn event is scheduled for June:
Folks who are interested in the series can join one of two MCommunity groups:
Increasingly, we expect to be able to work anytime, anywhere, using any type of device—including our own personal devices. The university recognizes that it may, at times, be necessary for members of the university community to work with sensitive institutional data on their personally owned devices and has approved Security of Personally Owned Devices that Access or Maintain Sensitive Institutional Data (SPG 601.33).
SPG 601.33 recognizes that this use presents a risk of data loss or unauthorized access that could harm the university and members of the university community. The policy defines the shared obligations, responsibilities, and expectations of those who are permitted to work with sensitive institutional data on their personal devices.
In May, ITS Information and Infrastructure Assurance (IIA) asked IT Security Unit Liaisons (SULs) to begin working with unit leadership to implement SPG 601.33 in their units.
Units have the discretionary authority to adopt and enforce additional requirements for staff who are permitted to work with sensitive university data on their personally owned devices. SULs are working with unit leadership to determine additional unit restrictions, if any, and to communicate those decisions within units.
Details about the policy, as well as implementation resources, are at University Data and Personally Owned Devices.
The first major milestone of the SiteMaker Transition Project happens on June 30. On that date, the ability to create new sites in SiteMaker will no longer be available. View the project roadmap page for more information.
U-M's Collaboration Forum is a public discussion group where you may ask questions, exchange information, and showcase interesting uses of collaboration tools including M+Google, M+Box, and CTools.
The next forum meeting takes place 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, July 30. NOTE: This meeting will only be streamed via Adobe Connect. There is no physical meeting space reserved. Agenda topics TBD. (View previous meetings.)
IT Governance was formed to represent the many needs of the U. read what they're discussing and follow-up with your representative if you have questions, comments, or new ideas.
Learn more about the various committees on the CIO website
Do you have a suggestion for other IT-related campus publications that we should include here? Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The success of the next generation of Michigan IT relies on the efforts of scores of people from across campus. This feature profiles those who are making NextGen real. If you are interested in being profiled or want to suggest someone to be profiled, please email email@example.com.
Terry Houser is the program owner and director of the MiWorkspace project in the NextGen Michigan Program, as well as program director of infrastructure projects in Information and Technology Services (ITS).
What is your role in the NextGen effort?
I'm currently the program owner and director of the MiWorkspace project. I also have responsibility as program director for ITS Infrastructure Build projects including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the IT Asset Management efforts, all of which will align to and touch the NextGen MiWorkspace project in some way. I also have responsibility for the NextGen Cloud effort that recently brought public cloud services to campus in the form of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
What do you think are the opportunities or wins for campus coming out of the NextGen effort?
University leadership has afforded us a great opportunity to carefully examine the IT work happening within the schools and colleges today. That opportunity enables us to work collaboratively across campus to develop new IT solutions that reduce cost and enables the schools and colleges to focus on the work that advances the teaching and learning mission of the university. I'm personally very excited to be a part of that, because what we're building is truly transformational for our campus.
What do you think are the challenges for the NextGen effort on campus?
In my view, one of the biggest challenges NextGen faces is the change the program introduces in terms of shifting work and changing the way campus looks at IT. The IT work that schools and colleges are doing is very complex and intertwined with their efforts to focus on faculty and their requirements. Looking at this work carefully and determining what's most appropriate to stay in the units (mission specific) and what should migrate elsewhere is proving to be quite challenging. We're working closely with leadership in the schools and colleges though, and I'm quite confident we're headed down the right path.
What brought you to the NextGen program?
I have spent my entire 20 year career in IT at the university. In that time, I've had the opportunity to lead many large, complex IT projects related to a variety of enterprise-wide systems, including M-Pathways (PeopleSoft), CTools, M-Community and many others. When Bill Wrobleski left the university last fall and CIO Laura Patterson asked me to take on leadership of infrastructure build projects—including Project Horizon, NextGen Cloud and BYOD—I leapt at the chance. Most recently, when Laura asked me to take on MiWorkspace I again accepted the offer to lead the effort.
What is your educational background?
I went to Eastern Michigan University and graduated with B.B.A. in Business Computer Systems, which is a mix between traditional business administration and computer science.
What is the most recent book/movie you read/saw?
I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't seen a movie in a theater in many years—at least 5-6 years! I love to rent movies and watch at home though. I recently re-watched A River Runs Through It which is one of my favorite films. I'm in the middle of reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would you order?
He had a pretty significant impact on me as a kid growing up in Ann Arbor. Aside from being a great football coach, I didn't realize the impact that he had on the thousands of young men that went through the football program here until I got a little older. He really developed them from boys into young men, who had at least some of skills necessary to become good citizens. He really cared about his people. He no doubt was hard on them, but its clear he cared about each and every one of his football players.
I was able to meet him on a number of occasions and despite having the persona of being hard-nosed football coach, he came across as being very personable. I'd probably eat a big porterhouse steak with Bo.
Not just from an IT perspective. He was a pioneer—a visionary. He also brought the notion of failing fast. We're a university full of innovative thinkers and brilliant minds and we can apply his lessons to our work. Innovate, fail (sometimes), learn and try again. I'd probably go to Zingerman's Roadhouse and order the Mac-n-Cheese sampler. Why? I don't know, but I know I like it.
We're always interested in your feedback, comments, concerns and questions. Please share your thoughts with the Program Office using the Contact Us section of the NextGen Michigan website.