Round One

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Round One

  1. 1. Compact Plan 2003-06 Information Technology Division Round One Presented to Dr. James L. Oblinger Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor August 18, 2003 Samuel Averitt Vice Provost, Information Technology
  2. 2. Table of Contents I. Introduction II. Initiatives A. Initiatives supporting university goals including diversity, partnerships and operational efficiencies Initiative supporting diversity: A1. Accessible Information Technology Services and Research Facility Initiatives supporting partnerships and operational efficiencies: A2. University Technology Support Partnerships A3. University Coordinated Computing Help Desk A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative A4. Academic & Administrative Windows Computing Environments A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative A5. Centralized, Coordinated Campus Software and Hardware Purchases A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative A6. Enhanced Cyber Security A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative A7. Ongoing Disaster Recovery Preparedness Planning and Implementation A8. New Centralized Funding Model for Cost Recovery of the Data Network A9. Conversion to new enterprise file storage management system A10. IT Investment Management Project: Bridging the Accountability Gap B. Initiatives contributing to the university’s planning for “Student Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment” B1. Integrated Collaborative Technology and Assessment Project B2. Information Technology Fluency Initiative: Tutorial Center/ITD Collaboration Pilot B3. Wireless Data Connectivity Build-out and Wireless Service Delivery B4. Mobile Computing Systems, Applications and Support B5. Advanced Remote Access Services: Virtual Computing Lab Pilot Project B6. Central Support Service for Multimedia Classrooms - Pilot Project B7. NC State Research and High Performance Computing Initiative III. Resource Summary Spreadsheet
  3. 3. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DIVISION Office of the Provost Compact Plan 2003-06 August, 2003 I. Introduction The goal of ITD’s 2003-2006 Compact Plan is simple: to provide the underlying IT innovation, adaptability, execution and assessment necessary for NC State to become “the nation’s leading land-grant institution.” All else is detail. Taken collectively, the items in this compact plan chart an aggressive push into the immersive technology environment of the 21st century (see, for example, initiatives A9, B4 and B5). They push the frontiers of technology capability, application and practice (see initiatives A1, B1, B6, B7). They challenge the prevailing IT culture, its organizational structures, its processes and behaviors, and its sense of entitlement (see intiatives A2, A3, A4). They propose that we use the research expertise on campus to improve our IT investment management practices and develop methods of evaluating the university’s return on IT investments that are appropriate to the values of higher education (initiative A10). It is time—time for disciplined IT spending, time to determine what return on investment (ROI) means relative to IT at NC State, time for a coordinated and synergistic investment strategy, and time we were able to justify our IT investments with a stronger argument than “we are different.” NC State is justifiably proud of its IT accomplishments. We are headed in the right direction—we have a strong vision, a highly motivated and skilled staff, world-class researchers and a demonstrated ability to execute projects. Campus participation in IT strategic planning and decision-making has been significantly expanded. ITD has been fundamentally restructured to promote and advance critical IT thinking and core mission linkage. Adoption of non- hierarchical thinking has resulted in functional integration across diverse organizational boundaries with considerable improvements in effectiveness and efficiency. The reliability, robustness, resiliency, and functional richness of production services has been substantially improved. The establishment of a campus high performance computing (HPC) capability has proceeded from scratch and is progressing well. Numerous ITD initiatives are building toward an immersive technology environment that provides a seamless information and computational universe. It would seem as though we are well positioned for success, and compared to our peers we probably are. But this is not good enough if we are to realize the goals we have set for ourselves. The barrier that puts our success at risk is the lack of a cohesive and well-managed investment strategy. On the one hand, if we do not begin to make progress toward remedying this deficiency, it will severely limit what we can achieve. On the other, if we do it now and do it well, we stand to gain enormous competitive and strategic advantage. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 2 August, 2003
  4. 4. II. Initiatives A. Initiatives supporting university goals including diversity, partnerships and operational efficiencies Initiative supporting Diversity: A1. Accessible Information Technology Services and Research Facility Description and objectives: NC State has a demonstrated need for a central service that will facilitate the creation of accessible and alternate formats for all learning materials. The university is committed to meeting the intent of the laws that require equal educational opportunity for otherwise-qualified students with disabilities. The steady growth in the use of multimedia in classrooms and online teaching is going to continue or increase in coming years. A recent survey by the Learning Technology Service (LTS/DELTA) of online courses showed that only one in 95 online distance education courses was fully compliant with national accessibility guidelines (http://portaldev.ncsu.edu/intranet/file_info.cfm?id=299). Furthermore, experience at Disability Services for Students (DSS) shows that the university's current ad hoc/emergency response approach to making online materials accessible to students with disabilities costs more to create materials which may be less value than if more proactive, coherent and efficient practices were in place. ITD proposes to partner with DSS, the College of Education, DELTA, and possibly other units on campus to establish a facility to improve the efficiency and quality of the production of accessible multimedia and other learning materials for the university. This facility will act as a focal-point for (a) facilitation of creation of accessible and alternate format materials (such as captioning and text description of multimedia and electronic or Braille formats), (b) support and education on accessible formats and web accessibility issues (support mechanism for the up-coming Web Accessibility Regulation and mobile computing initiatives), and (c) research into accessibility issues of campus, national, and international importance. More specifically, the initiative has the following objectives: • Further advance the university’s goals of creating a diverse and inclusive technology environment, improving operational efficiencies and enriching the campus technology learning environment • Advance LITRE QEP goals by increasing learning style options for students, both on campus and online • Provide necessary support for faculty—Web and course developers for implementation of the university’s upcoming Administrative Regulations on Web Accessibility and meeting the legal requirements for providing access to course materials for students with disabilities • Develop a business plan and a cost-effective funding and service model for alternative formats that will encourage and support faculty and others’ participation in the creation of accessible online and other learning materials • Develop and improve production processes, engage groups, faculty and graduate students working in relevant fields and evaluate and develop emerging practices and technologies • Advance research, development and opportunities for external funding in the growing field of accessible/ universal design for technology and learning. Since launching its Assistive and Information Technology Initiative in 2000, NC State has made considerable strides in improving the accessibility and usability of its information technology environment. (See, for example, the Assistive Technology Web pages at http://www.ncsu.edu/it/dss/ ). The workshops and discussions sponsored by DSS, ITD, LTS and TLTR have significantly increased faculty awareness of their responsibilities regarding ADA and the benefits of accessible/universal design. As a necessary next step in accessibility compliance efforts, NC State's Administrative Regulation on Web Accessibility has been developed, with input from faculty and approval from the Office of Legal Affairs. Creation of accessible and alternative formats for learning material needs to address two issues different issues: 1) the retrofitting of existing material and 2) the creation and design of new learning materials. Most problematic is the required conversion of multimedia and other materials for students with hearing and vision impairments. While the awareness level for the need for accessibility has greatly increased, faculty currently lack the expertise, resources ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 3 August, 2003
  5. 5. and staff to support accessible learning and web-based materials for courses they develop. No unit is charged with or funded to provide this service. Up to now, to meet the immediate need of a student with a disability, DSS and the Assistive Technology (AT) team has used either ETF or special funds requested from the Provost to retrofit materials on an ad hoc basis. As more and more web tools, multimedia, online course and other web technologies are integrated into the learning environment, support and resources for the accessible materials becomes essential. With the demands on the AT staff’s time to meet the academic needs of individual students with a disability grows, they cannot adequately support the faculty, course and program developers to ensure that the materials created are accessible. A cost- effective business plan and operationally efficient procedures are required. The National Center for Accessible Media (http://ncam.wgbh.org/) estimates that the average cost of captioning services ranges from $400 to $1,000 per 1 hour of video; however, the estimate by LTS for in-house captioning is $126/hour of video. Implementation • Establish a taskforce: Made up of members of the codicil partners and representatives from other pertinent campus units, this team will identify long and short-term goals and help develop the business plan. • Conduct a needs assessment to define the mission and scope of the facility and develop business plan. The need for such a facility has been identified; the taskforce will flesh out details of a business plan which will: 1. Further identify the scope of services and deliverables 2. Establish policies and procedures for the facility and identify responsibilities 3. Identify resources (equipment, staff, contracts) 4. Formulate education/promotion plans; identify potential partnerships and synergies with other groups and initiatives on campus 5. Establish budgets 6. Set time line for implementation phase 7. Establish an advisory committee, including research faculty with credentials in the field • Implement the project: Open facility and begin offering services Outcomes assessment: The major desired outcome is a facility that serves the goals of the campus community by providing the following: • Creation of accessible and alternate format materials • Support/education on Web accessibility to facilitate implementation of Administrative Regulation • More robustly developed university materials, with better access to university programs and services by students with disabilities • Increased student satisfaction and reduced burden on faculty and program developers • Better means of maintaining compliance with legal requirements • A focal point for external funding for research and development in accessible technologies and universal design for learning issues This will be assessed by the following means: • Measuring the number of courses and units with accessible materials • Tracking support calls and production projects using Remedy • Measuring production time and costs on projects and materials • Measuring faculty/developer/student satisfaction (via surveys or other tools) • Published findings; grants and other external funds. Resources: ITD recommends that the service facility be funded primarily from NC State funds since a charge-back model would be a disincentive for departments and faculty to include accessibility features as a normal part of online and other learning materials development. The requested $200,000 would fund one full-time person and part-time staff/student workers to assist in the production of alternative/accessible materials. Initially equipment will be supplied by ITD and DSS, using ETF Funds. Non-academic projects will be billed to the unit for a cost recovery. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 4 August, 2003
  6. 6. Initiatives supporting partnerships and operational efficiencies: A2. University Technology Support Partnerships (UTSP) Description and objectives: NC State University is a large, diverse institution with a large, diverse and complex computing environment. Supporting this environment requires not only collaboration among central computing groups such as ITD, RMIS and DELTA, but also collaboration with computing staffs at the college, department and unit level. Now more than ever, colleges are feeling the pressure for increased computing services and support at the departmental level and are struggling to meet demands. With its University Technology Support Partnerships (UTSP) initiatives, ITD proposes to improve the university’s and colleges’ return on IT investments by offering a new suite of services and resources that more efficiently and effectively provide additional technology support to colleges, departments and other units. Expanding and enhancing already existing collaborative relationships, the UTSP initiatives are based on a service model similar to the outreach and extension concept so familiar to land grant institutions. This model has shown itself to be a highly effective means of sharing knowledge and resources in a way that is empowering to those who participate and to the community as a whole. Like an extension program, the UTSP initiative and related initiatives in the ITD Compact Plan (see also initiatives A1, A3, A4, A5, and A6) create a more coordinated infrastructure for computing support and technology services at NC State. The primary objective of these initiatives is to enhance the effectiveness of IT support staff and services by building an infrastructure that facilitates communication and collaboration among all technology support groups at NC State. Services, programs and objectives of UTSP • Coordinated computing Help Desk (see initiative A3): The ITD Help Desk will expand its services and function as a default Help Desk for the entire university community. Through collaboration with other IT support groups, improved staff training and new standards for escalation of problems to various support units, the new NC State Help Desk will provide a centralized point of contact for all NC State computer users, regardless of the nature of their technology needs. • Support Partnerships program: A formal program of partnerships with departments to expand mechanisms for proactive support and better representation of departmental needs back to ITD. Enhancing the effectiveness of computing staff in departments will improve the quality of support for end users. (See also initiative A3.) • Training/communication program: A formalized method of providing training, documentation and communication to computing support staff that targets both technical concepts and improves the institutional awareness of IT support staff. A component of this training will be to develop a certification system for staff who complete the training and demonstrate mastery of key concepts. • Annual planning workshops: Conducted for computing staff in all major support units (RMIS, ITD, colleges) to provide an opportunity for training, creating interdepartmental relationships that improve communication throughout the year. • Technical support consulting service for colleges: A service to provide a more holistic approach for assessing support needs and planning for those needs. Will also facilitate sharing support staff by smaller units, under the auspices of ITD’s highly successful Distributed Support Program. • Server, storage and other systems services for departments: To provide high-quality, robust "back-end" services for departments that have needs for specialized applications. (See also A8 and B9.) • Standardized desktop hardware and software services: To develop and facilitate configurations that will improve the efficiency of local workstation support campus-wide. (See also initiatives A4 and A5.) • Contract Services group: To provide shorter-term on-site support for campus units. These support positions will be funded primarily by cost recovery, but will require an ongoing funding source to cover a position while it is not contracted. (See also initiative B8.) Implementation: The UTSP initiative will be developed in a series of levels that allow ITD to 1) provide some immediate relief for campus units in need of additional computing support, 2) build a more cohesive support infrastructure for NC State and 3) develop the business plan for some new back-end services for departments. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 5 August, 2003
  7. 7. Level I—Develop a support infrastructure through centralization of help desk services, increased outreach, education and documentation 1. Develop centralized default Help Desk services (see A3) to provide a single point of contact and entry point for IT support staff and clients. 2. Implement enhanced programs and documentation for NC State technical support staff. a. Assess documentation and training needs of technical support staff in campus units. b. Develop a repository of web-based resources for technical staff by collecting and organizing existing documentation resources, as well as developing additional resources. c. Plan and implement a training retreat (on campus) for technical support staff. d. Develop new outreach/training opportunities so that ITD staff can enhance the reach and scope of their services and support efforts. 3. Develop Support Partnerships in a pilot program with a moderate-to-large NC State college; extend to other units as resources allow. This program will provide a greater level of contact between ITD and college support staff, both in planning and educational activities, and will also establish more streamlined processes for gaining assistance through the Help Desk and upper tier support staff. 4. Develop standards for skill certification and methods of assessment of technical support staff. Additional staff for training/outreach activities at this level is necessary for the creation of a new support infrastructure that will enable ITD to provide the support campus units need for more effective IT expenditures and use. Furthermore, these activities will increase the communication and connectedness among colleges, IT support groups, and departments. This level is key to developing a foundation that allows ITD to better position itself to respond quickly to campus needs, to support other critical ITD initiatives (such as A6, Cyber Security), and to build out the services needed in later levels of UTSP. Level II— Develop departmental systems services and computing support services 1. Determine campus needs for back-end services and develop plan for provisioning. This is an ITD-wide effort, requiring planning by ComTech, Systems, and Computing Services. Prospective areas of services include database services, mass storage and backup services, and departmental server provisioning. 2. Develop business plan for short-term support contract services. 3. Consult with campus departments to assess their needs for computing support and assist them in developing support positions, or provide support via the Distributed Support program. 4. Continue to improve the support infrastructure in ITD by funding staff development and managing staff resources to maximize effectiveness in providing services and support in areas of need. The activities in Level II draw heavily on the infrastructure developed in Level I. Many of the activities in Level II can be developed as cost-recovery services to ensure ongoing funding; however, initial resources for project planning and development of a business plan will be needed. Outcomes and assessment: The overall outcome of the UTSP initiative will be a new infrastructure that ties together the various IT groups at NC State. The enhanced communication resulting from this partnership will allow the campus to streamline its IT operations and use its resources as effectively as possible. More specific outcomes include an increase in customer satisfaction levels, a reduction in the time needed to solve computing problems, and improved computing support for faculty, staff and students at the departmental level. The Remedy call tracking system provides a number of useful measures, such as the time required to resolve calls and the number of changes in ownership of Remedy calls. Remedy also provides a mechanism for collecting satisfaction survey data from end users and support staff ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 6 August, 2003
  8. 8. A3. University Coordinated Computing Help Desk A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative Description and objectives: A study of NC State’s help desk services conducted in spring 2003 highlighted a number of concerns about the current help desk environment. At present, there are over ten “Help desks” at NC State, each serving a subset of clients that use the services of various organizations. There is not one help desk that acts as a default point of contact for NC State clients; end-users must diagnose their problems to determine which of the many help desks they should contact. Working in cooperation with other technical support units on campus, ITD is working to expand its Help Desk service and software infrastructure to become a default point of client contact and coordinate the university’s problem tracking and other computing help desk activities. This initiative, a key component of the University Technology Support Partnerships Initiative (see A2), will provide an improved customer service experience for NC State faculty, staff and students as they seek computing technical support in their endeavors throughout the university. The initiative will relieve the customer of the burden of trying to figure out whom, within the university's highly distributed and specialized technical support system, to contact for support regarding a particular issue. Further, this initiative will address many of the deficiencies cited in the auditor's report of 2002 regarding customer confusion over whom to contact and training-related issues. Objectives: The new NC State Help Desk has a number of service goals: • To be an effective default point of contact and entry point into the technology support infrastructure at NC State for all NC State-affiliated clients • Improve effectiveness within other IT support units through improved coordination and training, as outlined in the University Technology Support Partnerships (UTSP) initiative (Initiative A2). • Define escalation procedures and standards among all IT groups and functional units to ensure an efficient and accountable flow of client questions through various support groups. • Increase awareness of campus-wide technology issues, standards and procedures to increase the quality of support provided by all IT groups at NC State (ITD, RMIS, DELTA, Colleges and departments) (see also initiativeA2). Implementation: The ITD Help Desk will expand its staff and services to function as a default point of contact for NC State clients. Additionally, this expanded service, the NC State Help Desk, will lead a collaborative effort to organize and coordinate technology support efforts of other participating support providers engaged in help desk and customer service activities. These efforts will result in more accurate routing of customer requests, and a more timely and predictable response. • ITD will make organizational and staffing changes to position the ITD Help Desk for its new role. The Help Desk will report directly to Vice Provost Sam Averitt through a new director’s position that is funded jointly by ITD and RMIS. o Additional staff resources (Help Desk manager, Remedy development, and permanent and temporary help desk staff) are being contributed by ITD (approximately 6 FTE). o RMIS is contributing 3 FTE in permanent staffing resources. • A Steering Committee comprising members from university-level IT groups (ITD, RMIS, DELTA, Libraries) as well as college and functional unit representatives will be formed to provide initial and ongoing guidance on the services of the NC State Help Desk. • In cooperation with the other participating support providers, ITD will refine the processes for "handing off" (escalating) a problem from one support organization to another in a seamless, timely and transparent fashion to ensure efficient resolution of problems. • Extensive training and documentation will be required to adequately prepare the NC State Help Desk to operate effectively. This training is described in more detail in Initiative A2 (UTSP) and will utilize resources requested in that compact. This training and documentation resource will also be made available ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 7 August, 2003
  9. 9. to support staff in other IT units at NC State, thus improving the effectiveness of support in other IT groups. • The initiative will utilize the existing campus problem tracking system (Remedy) and the associated solutions database. The tracking system enables support staff to facilitate transfer of customer requests to the appropriate support agency, regardless of where or how the request enters the system. • Address professionalism and client interaction skills: ITD will work with the other participating support providers to develop and implement strategies to improve the integration of tier II and tier III support staff into the problem resolution process. • Assess the support efforts at peer institutions on other campuses; including staffing levels, level of support provided, number of points of contact, use of student support, assessment strategies, solutions databases, etc. • ITD will lead in establishing a campus-wide association of customer support professionals to provide opportunities for support staff to exchange ideas and best practices. Additional staff resources will be required for this effort to succeed and are requested as part of the UTSP compact plan (Initiative A2). A key to the success of a Coordinated Help Desk will be to make extensive use of the Remedy problem tracking system. • Analyze customer queries to determine the types of questions that customers are asking and develop solutions to address these issues. • Analyze the temporal profile of when customers are searching the solutions database and when customers are calling the help desk, to learn more about customer usage habits and gain a better understanding of when support resources are needed most. • Undertake a systematic review of the current "keywords" in the existing solutions database for relevance and appropriateness. • Undertake a systematic review of each solution to ensure that keyword choices are appropriate for each solution. • Develop procedures and standards for the periodic review of all solutions for continued accuracy and relevance, and implement those procedures to ensure that all solutions remain accurate and relevant. • Develop mechanisms to enable customers to identify errors and omissions in existing solutions. Outcomes and assessment: The Coordinated Help Desk will impact computing support at NC State in two fundamental areas: 1. End users will have a default Help Desk to contact, without the need for them to diagnose their problems to determine the appropriate support group. The NC State Help Desk will take ownership of client computing problems and will ensure efficient escalation to other support groups if the problem cannot be resolved by Help Desk staff. 2. This new Help Desk service will provide members of all IT support groups at NC State access to a variety of support resources (tools, web pages, etc.) to increase their effectiveness and reduce response time. Additionally, UTSP support providers and selected customers will be provided direct access to tier II support staff as appropriate, to reduce response time and redundant help desk interactions. (See A 2, University Technology Support Partnerships initiative) The most important outcome of this initiative will be a significant reduction in the confusion and uncertainty that customers are currently experiencing as they seek assistance with their technology-related support requests. Additionally, ITD expects an improvement in the quality of the interactions between support staff and their customers, and also a reduction in the time required to resolve a particular issue. Some of these outcomes are subjective and may be difficult to measure. However, the Remedy system, a cornerstone of this initiative, provides the ability to measure call volumes, problem resolution times and to obtain client feedback through client satisfaction surveys. By encouraging the use of these surveys by more support organizations and including questions designed to gauge customer confusion regarding their “point of contact,” ITD will be in a position to assess the effectiveness of efforts in this area. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 8 August, 2003
  10. 10. A4. Academic & Administrative Windows Computing Environments: Leveraging Similarities A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative Description and objectives: Administrative staff and academic staff, faculty and students currently work in different computing desktop environments. Resource Management and Information Systems (ACS, NCS, EIS,) support administrative computing and the approximately 4000 users of the administrative desktop computing environment. They provide a defined suite of software and access to data necessary for, and in some cases restricted to, administrative staff. By contrast, the approximately 30,000 other computer users working in the academic computing environment (faculty, staff and students) have a much broader range of options available. The desktop computing environments academic staff and faculty use varies according to the programmatic needs and resources of their college or department. ITD supports the Unity Windows desktop environment, which provides the approximately 200 software packages available in Unity labs and in the many college computing labs that have chosen to deploy the ITD-supported Windows desktop environment. While a “one size fits all” desktop model would not serve the divergent needs of computer users on our campus, the current model also has significant problems. This is particularly true when incompatibilities between the centrally- provided academic and administrative computing environments interfere with communication between academic and administrative staff. The goal of the Academic & Administrative Windows Computing Environments project is to improve operational efficiencies by addressing in the best way possible incompatibilities between the centrally- provided academic and administrative computing environments. These incompatibilities, which range from incompatible software versions to file types and groupware, lead to wasted labor hours—not to mention tremendous frustration—as staff members attempt to exchange or access information with others who are using different environments. For example, making a grant submission or other financial transaction on time can be critical. If action is delayed because staff are attempting to work around incompatibilities, significant amounts of money may be lost. The incompatibilities exist because there are differences between the administrative and academic environments. There are real differences between the populations these environments are designed to serve. A “one size fits all” model does a disservice to all it purports to serve. However, while these environments are different, they are still similar. With similarity there is hope for compatibility. Resolving incompatibilities requires fundamental project management: specific identification of the incompatibilities, identification of possible solutions, selection of solutions, implementation, and assessment of the outcomes—and repeat. If this project is to succeed, it is also essential for there to be a serious commitment of support and participation by both the administrative side of computing (RMIS: NCS, ACS, EIS) and academic computing (ITD, colleges). A project manager must be identified or hired to manage this process. Funding must be available for solutions identified by those involved with the project. There are substantial obstacles; including licensing costs, different organizational needs, and resulting technical differences. Testing, corrections, and verification in multiple environments will take additional efforts, and resolution of technical differences will require not only time but consensus. Surmounting these obstacles will require commitment to the project by the people who work in each of the groups involved, with the greatest difficulty in the first year of the project. The result will be improved productivity and satisfaction for faculty, academic staff and administrative staff. Implementation: A necessary first step in this initiative is to more precisely identify what issues are of the highest priority to those involved and what measures can be realistically used as metrics for progress. This project will be led by a project manager, with the recommendation that this position report jointly to the Vice Provost for Information Technology and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Resource Management & Information Systems. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 9 August, 2003
  11. 11. Phase 1 (six months) • A needs assessment study, resulting in a white paper with specific recommendations for Phase 2. A working committee of representatives from both academic and administrative units will be formed to study data and to assist in drafting the white paper. The project manager will be responsible to the working committee for facilitating the collection of relevant data through surveys and interviews of affected staff, examining how these issues are handled in peer institutions, and collecting other information as requested. At the end of the needs assessment study, the project manager will be responsible for drafting and revising a white paper which includes specific recommendations for actions during Phase 2. Phase 2 (twelve months): Recommendations of the working committee (Phase 1) will begin to be implemented. The project manager will bring together technical staff members from the involved to units determine how best to technically implement the recommendations of the committee. If there are conflicts between technical feasibility and the recommendations of the committee, the project manager will coordinate communications to seek alternative solutions. The project manager may be required to mediate differences between technical groups, as issues of implementation style, scalability and reasonable modifications emerge. Phase 3 (six months) Assessing the results of the first two phases and planning the final phases of the project. The remaining feasible recommendations from Phase 2 will be implemented during this six-month period. In addition, the project manager will coordinate an outcome assessment to determine the effects of the implemented changes on the clients and the technical staff charged with making the changes. The assessment should include re-interviews with staff included in the initial interview process, follow-up surveys, and other appropriate outcome measures. A follow-up paper will be drafted summarizing the outcomes. The project manager will then be responsible for continuing the process by forming a second working committee to examine the outcome assessment, perform a follow-up needs assessment, and guide the committee through the development of a final white paper and implementation plan for the next 18 months. Outcomes assessment: In addition to the initial white paper/report, the short-term, identified achievable goals of this project include: - Delivery of Peoplesoft applications to academic clients within the centrally-delivered academic desktop environment, a joint effort between ACS and ITD - Identification of issues with login scripting that cause incompatibilities between the centrally-delivered academic and administrative environments - Cooperative testing of the next version Novell ZENworks between ACS and ITD. As mentioned above, assessment is built into this project, with recurring interviews of staff and the development of a final report and ongoing implementation plan. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 10 August, 2003
  12. 12. A5. Centralized, Coordinated Campus Software and Hardware Purchases A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative Description and objectives: At NC State, as elsewhere, the purchase of software and hardware is a vital, time consuming and expensive part of maintaining the university’s technology environment. NC State has an abundance of excellent software for education and research, and an ongoing need to upgrade and replace workstations, printers and other hardware. Currently, these resources are acquired by various campus units and colleges, often without coordination, collaboration or adequate communication. While negotiations and terms and conditions for licensing software is vendor specific, there are efficiencies and savings to be gained by collaborating on software licensing and hardware purchases. These include sharing costs, leveraging volume, simplifying processes, avoiding duplicated efforts, and developing a campus-wide resource for access to product information. For example, ITD and colleges have in the past saved up to 20%–25% through coordinated hardware volume purchases. While there is general agreement that campus-wide coordination of software and hardware purchases would benefit everyone, there have been no formalized mechanisms for this on our campus. As a result, in collaboration with colleges, other campus support units and the University IT Committee, ITD has undertaken the initiative to manage and facilitate campus-wide processes for more efficient and cost effective mechanisms for the purchase of software and hardware. Advancing the university’s goal of improved operational efficiencies, this initiative has the following objectives: • Increase the value of the university’s return on its IT investments by reducing total cost of ownership of key, centrally supported software and collaborative hardware procurement. • Formalize many of the processes for selecting, funding, partnering, purchasing, implementing, renewing and retiring software and hardware. Expand best practices and processes and thus expand demonstrated savings to colleges. • Reduce duplicated effort in colleges. • Create accessible online resources for faculty, staff, and students for comprehensive information on available software, processes for installation of new upgrades for their teaching and research environments, discounted hardware purchases and other areas identified for potential savings of money and effort. Implementation: This initiative has progressed past the early stages of implementation. In part through a sub-committee of the University IT Committee (UITC), composed of representatives from colleges and support units, collaborative processes and best practices around software and hardware procurement have been discussed, prioritized and formalized for the campus. Time lines for the process of creating new images for the Unity and college computing labs have been adopted by UIT and are online at http://www.ncsu.edu/it/essentials/software/timeline.html Communication with the college and support units for resource and information sharing, software acquisition, renewal, distribution, upgrades, accessibility and retirement, and other areas offering great opportunity for efficiencies and saving have been identified. Information is being gathered and recommendations will be presented to the colleges through the UITC. ITD software support managers are also participating in LITRE, which has led to the recommendation that software data be migrated into a more sophisticated web-accessible information system with a database back-end. The recommendation is moving through LITRE, and the necessary funding for programming and data management staff has been requested through the LITRE initiative. As we move toward a more centralized, collaborative and coordinated approach to software and hardware purchasing on campus, opportunities for further collaboration and efficiencies are occurring. Successful implementation will depend heavily upon ITD’s expanded University Technology Support Partnerships initiative (A2) and the Coordinated Campus Computing Help Desk initiative (A3). The following activities have been implemented or are in progress: • Program initiated: ITD led creation of a campus-represented Software Subcommittee under the University IT Committee that has established priorities and approves processes for coordinated software purchases, upgrade releases, distribution models for information sharing and support. ITD is also collaborating with campus several times a year on microcomputer purchases—including Unity Computing Labs equipment, Apple Macs, Dells, etc. The UIT Software Subcommittee has been established, and work is in progress. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 11 August, 2003
  13. 13. • Identified high demand, widely used software and hardware applications and systems that currently (or potentially) have broad campus deployment and where efficiency and cost savings through coordination are significant. (Ongoing progress.) • Established processes for increased departmental collaboration in purchasing and reduced duplicated licensing. • Established processes for information dissemination about availability and use of software applications. This includes development of a centrally maintained database of online resources to facilitate department/college access to critical information for planning and procurement, such as discount pricing, purchasing details, vendor/reseller information of record, campus usage and supporting documentation; it also includes online access to key information for the campus community, support staff and an ITD- supported online resource page. • Created Software Web site listing campus resources: http://www.ncsu.edu/it/essentials/software/ • Established processes for coordinated campus-wide purchases and distribution of desktop computers. ITD coordinates with campus bi-annual purchases of computer hardware in conjunction with campus lab upgrades. (In progress.) • Share information at the University General Administration level for enhanced communications and savings beyond NC State to the entire university system. (In progress.) ITD is currently working with the UIT subcommittee and LITRE to improve mechanisms for collaboration and operational efficiencies. Based on the success of processes for coordination of acquisitions of hardware and critical software used campus-wide, additional efficiencies will be identified, new channels of collaboration explored and centralization of software applications currently maintained by colleges and departments will continue to be documented. Outcomes assessment: Outcomes: • Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) for key, centrally supported software and hardware packages. Assessed by costs saved by centralized coordination purchases. • Reviewed, enhanced and documented processes and procedures and communication channels for major campus-wide software decisions and campus implementation, particularly in student computer labs. Assessed by review of http://www.ncsu.edu/it/essentials/software/timeline.html • New models/practices and efficiencies for hardware/software procurement. • A central campus resource for accessing existing licensed software packages will enhance collaboration, cost savings/sharing and efficiency in procurement. Assessed by review of improvements to http://www.ncsu.edu/it/essentials/software/ • Enhanced planning/coordination/communication with the departments/colleges to eliminate duplication of effort, to achieve competitive pricing, and share support resources has been initiated by the UIT Software Committee. Assessment: • Analysis of customer satisfaction surveys through the Helpdesk Remedy System. • Periodic review and improved processes and collaborative efforts with departments and support units. (On- going process.) Resources: The LITRE recommendation that software licensing and other information, now online in HTML format, be moved to a Web-accessible database has been submitted to LITRE for possible funding. The UIT Software Committee will be reviewing options to centralize software procurement for NC State’s 8000 faculty and staff, but this proposal would be expensive. Efficiencies will be evaluated. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 12 August, 2003
  14. 14. A6. Enhanced Cyber Security A University Technology Support Partnerships initiative Description and objectives: Cyber Security comprises 1) hacking and unauthorized access to networks and computers, 2) computer viruses and other malicious software, 3) violations of intellectual property and copyright laws, 4) liability for negligence if hacked systems are used for illegal purposes such as denial of service attacks, identity theft, or threats to national security, and 5) potential legal complications if protected private data is obtained from compromised hosts. NC State cannot afford to have lax security in any of these areas. The consequences of weak cyber security extend beyond the potential costly loss of data and the reduced productivity of staff, researchers, faculty and students. Learning in a technology-rich environment also depends upon secure access to resources. Furthermore, security problems can impact the university’s ability to obtain federal grants and comply with new national IT security requirements. The university’s good record in cyber security and compliance with new security requirements cannot be sustained without additional dedicated resources being allocated. ITD has only one staff person solely dedicated to computer and network security. He and already overburdened system administrators across campus face an alarming increase in cyber security problems and requirements. These include an increase in the number of attacks and violations, the number and types of potentially vulnerable devices on our network, the complexity of IT systems, the cost of disruptions, and the number of staff, faculty, researchers, and students seriously affected by those disruptions. In collaboration with other IT system administrators across campus and the Office of Legal Affairs, ITD proposes to implement a more efficient, effective and comprehensive cyber security program at NC State. The primary objectives of this program are to improve computer and network security for NC State and to comply with new national security mandates. To achieve both objectives a more proactive and in-depth security effort must be implemented. Recognizing that cyber security has to be a community effort, the program will involve expanding education and outreach activities (see initiative A2) in addition to enhancing computer and network security capabilities in colleges and departments. Implementation: Implementation of a comprehensive proactive cyber security program for NC State will require the addition of five qualified staff members to focus on campus and network security issues. Currently ITD has one full-time security expert in charge of network monitoring and coordinating responses to hacker, virus and other attacks. This staff member is also responsible for helping develop campus policy related to IT security. As part of these duties, ITD’s security coordinator was asked this spring to serve as the university’s HIPAA Security Officer—with its associated duties, but no additional resources. (By comparison, Chapel Hill has a five-person computer and network security team). A single position simply cannot adequately cover all the attendant responsibilities and duties for the university’s cyber security. As a result, the university now has a necessarily reactive model: other ITD staff and technical staff across campus are called to work on security issues, mostly on an emergency basis. These emergency duties now take up 50% of one Systems Programmer II’s time for anti-virus infrastructure support; 15-35% of a Systems Programmer III’s time for monitoring the network, operating system vulnerabilities and patches; and up to 80% of a Computing Consultant III’s time for copyright violations. This pattern erodes other services, and it is repeated and amplified in colleges and departments, where system administrators do not have the time to keep up with new security problems and at the same time perform their regular duties. The duties of the new cyber security staff would fall into two categories: 1) transferred duties – being done now on a reactive basis by other ITD staff and 2) new proactive activities and duties in security research, implementation, and compliance. Transferred/existing duties: • Anti-virus infrastructure support • Log/alert monitoring • Windows vulnerability and patch monitoring • Handling notice of copyright and DMCA violations ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 13 August, 2003
  15. 15. New proactive activities: • Improve Windows vulnerability and patch tracking, including better notifications to campus system administrators. • Develop better methods to detect un-patched computers as well as better methods of mass-installing patches—with the initial focus on Windows computers. • In conjunction with ComTech, offer firewall services to clients on campus. This is a new service that is necessary based on the heightened awareness and need for security of data and equipment on campus. Includes providing management for the Cisco Firewall Services Modules and helping the clients develop their access controls and network design. • Provide campus system administrators with management consultation and tools and analysis assistance to help them diagnose intrusion attempts and safely recover if the attempt was successful. • Evaluate and implement intrusion detection systems (IDS) to monitor the campus link to the public Internet, as well as key locations on campus, for irregular activity. This will allow increased capability to detect attacks against campus computers and attacks originating from campus computers. Currently ITD is using network traffic pattern and volume analysis to monitor for attacks, but these methods miss a lot of the suspect activity. • Increase education and information resources for campus system administrators and general users on computer and network security issues (working with UTSP program; see initiative A2). • Evaluation and installation of vulnerability assessment tools. Outcomes assessment: Assessment of this project will be based on the following intended outcomes: • Creation of an ITD security team whose job duties focus on computer and network security for NC State. (This will include transferring some duties from existing ITD staff to help consolidate the critical cyber security work within one dedicated group). • A proactive campus-wide model for cyber security (rather than the predominantly reactive model ITD has been forced to adopt due to under-staffing). • Improved network and computer security capabilities. • Improved robustness and efficiency of campus security systems. • Enhanced network monitoring in collaboration with ComTech. • Advancement in cyber security research and development (defense/monitoring areas and computer maintenance issues such as efficient patching). • Increased support for cyber security efforts of colleges and departments. • Increased education opportunities for students, faculty, and staff on security issues. • Increased awareness of students and others on the ethics and responsibilities of computer use. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 14 August, 2003
  16. 16. A7. Ongoing Disaster Recovery Preparedness Planning and Implementation Description and objectives: NC State has made significant strides in its disaster recovery planning (DRP) process for computing systems and data since the inception of the project in 2000 (see http://www.fis.ncsu.edu/drproject/). Among the notable achievements have been completion of business continuity plans for combined academic and administrative computing organizations, establishment of the interim secondary DRP site on Centennial Campus, wiring upgrade and installation of a new 160,000 volt-amp uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system for the university's data network backbone, and installation of a high capacity backup generator required for a major improvement of auxiliary power in the Hillsborough Building. Additional investments in network backbone redundancy has further improved overall network reliability and performance, and other disaster recovery investments have expanded network security monitoring capabilities. Disaster recovery is an ongoing process and an area of ongoing investment that is required for the university to meet its obligations to the state and other stakeholders. The mandated objective of these efforts is to mitigate the risk of major disruptions to critical university business and IT processes. The university’s disaster recovery planning has entered a new phase as colleges are working on creating their formal Business Continuity Plans and the university progresses on a new comprehensive (non-IT) university business continuity and disaster recovery plan. ITD’s obligations and requirements for continued disaster recovery preparedness are now in three major categories: • Advancing disaster recovery efforts across campus, especially for IT systems in colleges • Continuing efforts to appropriately provision existing primary and secondary sites • Planning provisioning for the new secondary site that is to open in 2004. Implementation: ITD is currently contributing to the university’s disaster recovery planning on several fronts: • University-wide, the vice provost for IT is an active member of the university’s (non IT) business continuity and disaster recovery planning committee. • In colleges, ITD staff are working with administrators to facilitate integrated IT business continuity planning throughout the university and to assure that resources are obtained and used in a manner that provides the university the best possible return on its mandated DRP investments. Funding for the new Enterprise Storage Management System would greatly enhance the efficiency and affordability of back-up storage for critical business and research data for colleges (see initiative A9). • In existing primary (Hillsborough Building) and interim secondary (Centennial Main Distribution Facility) sites, further upgrades and new monitoring capacities are needed. These include o Renovating a portion of the computer machine room in Hillsborough Building to make room for additional departmental disaster recovery servers o Purchasing an additional UPS and temperature control fans for the two main building breakers o Purchasing a dedicated server for environmental monitoring of primary and secondary sites. (Required to monitor power, AC, and security at unmanned sites remotely; will need to log same environmental data for troubleshooting problems.) • For the new permanent Support Services Center secondary site to open in 2004, significant provisioning still needs to be provided, including fiber-optic networking to the building. Planning for the use and resource allocation between the two sites needs to be formalized. Outcomes and assessment: At a minimum, the outcomes of these disaster recovery planning and preparedness efforts will be systems and procedures that meet the standards mandated by state auditors. Assessment and testing schedules are also mandated. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 15 August, 2003
  17. 17. In addition, wise investments in mandated DRP efforts will provide the university with significant improvements to its IT infrastructure. These can be assessed by measuring improved security capabilities and the robustness and reliability of systems. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 16 August, 2003
  18. 18. A8. New Centralized Funding Model for Cost Recovery of the Data Network Although the data network infrastructure is now nearly as important as electricity for the administrative and academic functioning of the university, NC State does not have a sustainable or equitable model for funding data network services. Communication Technologies (ComTech) proposes to develop and implement a new funding model for the NC State data network. The objectives of this initiative are to implement a “no cost” business change that would provide • excellent baseline networking services to colleges and departments • an efficient and equitable manner of obtaining funds for baseline services • mechanisms for cost recovery for network enhancements and new services • accountability for the use of the data network funds • assessment of services based on university goals and customer satisfaction. In the past several years, costs and demands for networking services have increased significantly. Our bandwidth assessment charges for commodity Internet access has increased $130,000 over the last 2 years. We have spent over $150,000 on wireless data access for classrooms, academic buildings and common areas to meet the increasing demands of wireless instruction and a mobile student population. We anticipate the demands for wireless and other data services to increase dramatically over the next few years as new methods for teaching with technology are developed and the number of students purchasing wireless devices increases. We will need several hundred thousand dollars each year to meet these demands. At the same time, funding for data networking has decreased. There has been a decrease in appropriated funding ($80,000 this year and $60,000 last year), and for three years there has been no increase in fees. The current model of charging each department by the number of network ports they have is obsolete and wasteful. Due to the dynamic nature of data networking in a high performance open environment, there is no reliable way to control or count the number of devices connected to the network. Current technology makes it very easy for users to bypass or subvert any method put in place. Developing methods to count network devices in a meaningful way would consume a significant amount of staff time and equipment. Furthermore, there is no real return value to the university in trying to count or police network devices. ComTech could better serve the university by using those resources to deliver services. In short, the current model for funding the data network infrastructure is neither sustainable nor sensible for NC State. ComTech proposes several new strategies that will scale to meet future needs without increasing the business costs: • baseline network services would be funded centrally instead of charging colleges and departments monthly for networking services based on the estimated number of active network ports they have, • enhanced network services above the baseline would be charged back to colleges, departments or users on a one time and/or monthly basis • certain one-time major build-out expenses may be funded centrally as determined appropriate. The ComTech initiative will also explore alternative formulaic approaches for cost recovery/funding of the data network that changes how costs are paid. ComTech will create and publish a baseline standard for campus network service with the goal of acceptance and implementation. The baseline standards will be assessed by review of the University IT Committee and upon approval implemented. Baseline data network service would currently be defined as a 10/100 Mb copper-wired network connection to the campus network. The baseline service will be subject to change as technology advances. Enhanced services are any network services that exceed the baseline service. Some of these services include, but are not limited to, the following: ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 17 August, 2003
  19. 19.  Wireless LAN service  Connection speeds above 10/100 Mb  Fiber cable connection to the desktop  Firewall services. Implementation, outcomes and assessment: To create a new funding model for data network services so that the funding is done centrally, based or charged back on an on an equitable model; ComTech will perform an assessment of the possible billing elements for the new funding model. Possible elements are charging by head count or by percentage of the total university budget. The funding model will be based on the baseline standard service that all data users have for access to the campus network. Users wanting enhanced service will be required to pay an additional fee to cover the overhead expenses of the higher service. The new funding model will be implemented by fiscal year 2004-2005. The yearly budget will change yearly, based on campus initiatives and technology requirements. To provide accountability for the use of the data funds and assessment of services, ComTech will annually review network costs and service and solicit recommendations on any funding increase and provide an assessment of the past year’s performance. The University IT Committee will become the body that annually reviews the network costs and services and reports its assessment and recommendations to the provost and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business. ComTech’s requests for rate increases will be submitted to the University IT Committee for review and then forwarded, along with the University IT Committee recommendation, to the provost and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business for consideration. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 18 August, 2003
  20. 20. A9. Conversion to new enterprise file storage management system Description and objectives: In a networked computing environment, the availability of distributed file storage space for data, e-mail and other services is a key determinant of the value of the systems for its users. With the exponential growth in use of these systems and the growing size of multimedia and other files, students, faculty and staff need more file space than ever. Although once a leader among peer institutions in the amount of file “quota” allocated with academic computing accounts, NC State has fallen behind in this measure. Feedback from students, researchers and college IT support units cite increased file space allocations as a top need and the lack of these resources as an impediment to innovation in the use of NC State’s technology environment for learning, teaching and research. File storage expansion has also been identified as an IT infrastructure need by the infrastructure workgroup of LITRE. With the closure of the North Carolina Supercomputing Center (NCSC), there is an immediate need for large amounts of data storage to support the IBM p690 now on campus and other high performance computing (HPC) equipment being put into production to serve campus researchers. In response to user demand, ITD has increased file quota allocations. ITD now supports a total of over 1.8 terabytes of distributed file space. However, over the past 18 months the outmoded file storage systems have begun to reach the upper limit of affordable scalability for both file space and e-mail space. The current storage model is to add a server and RAID unit whenever users are added or space-per-user is increased. The cost/byte is high compared to new storage technology options, and existing systems are becoming more vulnerable since ITD does not have enough ETF funds to increase file storage capacity and replace the server/RAID units as they age. This inevitably increases the potential for hardware failure and lost data. In brief, ITD can only continue to expand file storage space with the old storage technology model in the short term, and with this approach the university’s return on investment is poor. ITD’s High Performance Computing program went into production services on July 15. Although NC State inherited the IBM P/690 from NCSC to provide high performance computing, we did not inherit the storage infrastructure to support the large data sets. On June 30, NCSC staff members put to tape almost 10.5 terabytes of research data that NC State researchers had generated. For these researchers to continue their work in a workable computing environment, this 10.5 terabytes needs to be online. Implementation of an Enterprise Storage Management System is necessary to enable real-time access to researchers’ data. Instead of continuing to maintain the current outmoded systems, ITD needs to convert the academic file storage systems by implementing Enterprise Storage Management System technology as soon as funding is available. This technology eliminates the need for having expensive, individual RAID units because all the servers access a pool of disk drives. This model is more cost-effective as well as more flexible since disk drives technology continues to improve while disk drive costs continue to decrease. Even without the need to support research computing, now would be the prudent time for NC State to convert to the more efficient, cost-effective, and technologically advanced options available in new file storage technology. Since NC State is now supporting HPC, implementing an Enterprise Storage Management System is required for the university to have an integrated computing environment for research and education. Conversion to an Enterprise Storage Management System model has the following objectives: • Meet the growing needs for more file storage space for students, faculty and researchers. • Offer account holders more flexibility in use of their file space allocation (for example, account holders will be able to designate how much of their file space they use for e-mail, how much for data and personal files, etc. Note: this is a capability not yet being offered by our peer institutions). • Modernize and expand capabilities of the technology infrastructure for LITRE activities. • Provide immediate online access to 10.5 terabytes of HPC datasets to former NCSC research users. • Prepare the campus for Grid computing and other emerging advanced technologies and research. A research institution of NC State’s caliber can no longer dole out tens of megabytes of storage to scientists and believe they are meeting their needs. Future work, particularly in genomics and bioinformatics, demand that NC State be positioned to supply gigabytes, or even terabytes, on demand and at a reasonable cost. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 19 August, 2003
  21. 21. In addition to the demands for more file quota from student Unity account holders, ITD has strong support for the Enterprise Storage Management System conversion from technologists, researchers with high file storage needs, academic disaster recovery IT planners, and colleges, especially the College of Engineering, as well as HPC researchers Implementation: By using already allocated ETF funds and delaying other upgrades, ITD can provide a proportion of the one-time start-up costs of conversion to the Enterprise Storage Management System. The conversion cannot be done gradually, however, and additional funds will be needed for implementation. When the needed funding is obtained, implementation can be completed within six months. Outcomes assessment: If implemented, the Enterprise Storage Management System will have the following measurable outcomes: • Significant increase in file storage capacity for the academic computing environment, with the ability to scale capacity much higher; measured in total terabytes. • Increase in the amount of total file space allocated to individual accounts holders, with the added ability to choose how much of this allocation is assigned to e-mail or personal file directories; measured in megabytes. Note: ITD currently offers each user 50 megabytes of file space, 10 megabytes of IMAP mail space, and 25 megabytes of Netware space. The new system will be initially provisioned to provide an average of 300 megabytes per account. • New “virtualized” storage resource for colleges and units (although centrally provided by ITD, file system can be managed as though local); measured in megabytes. • New back-up options for colleges and researchers, which is important for disaster recovery planning; measured in megabytes. • Research and development in use of new file system for LITRE and Grid activities; measured by new activities and services offered. • Uninterrupted access for researchers to their High Performance Computing projects, as well as potential and affordable increases to file space. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 20 August, 2003
  22. 22. A10. IT Investment Management project: Bridging the Accountability Gap Description and objectives: Of all the things NC State can do to improve IT performance and accountability, understanding the value proposition and how to apply it to calculate IT return on investment (ROI) presents both our greatest opportunity and our most daunting challenge. NC State is not alone in this predicament. The immaturity of the IT industry is affecting all organizations, and the problem of determining IT value and ROI has not been satisfactorily solved for any business sector. This harsh and damning assertion is supported by numerous IT studies. The Standish Group recently found that the national success rate for implementation of major IT systems has doubled since 1994; it now stands at 34%. This abysmal failure rate is intolerable in today’s environment where dollars are scarce, technology is integral to accomplishing mission and business objectives, and stakeholders are increasingly demanding of IT accountability. NC State has almost certainly done much better that this national average, but there is not much data to back up this assertion, and therein lays the root of the problem. Perceived value will not matter if real value cannot be measured and articulated. Fortunately a tremendous amount of national effort has been focused on this issue, and the proposed initiative can benefit and leverage a significant body of thinking and work that has taken place over the last year. Unfortunately much remains. The challenge is doable, but daunting. Drawing on work done at the federal level by the General Accounting Office (GAO), three progressive stages of IT investment management are required: 1) develop a complete investment portfolio, 2) improve the investment process, and 3) leverage IT investment for strategic outcomes. The university’s Commission on the Future of NC State established ambitious goals and strategic outcomes in 2000, and LITRE is currently in the process of identifying strategic outcomes. But achieving goals and outcomes depends on our ability to manage our IT investment. The challenge facing us is part commitment, part execution, and part research and development. While significant pieces of the conceptual framework for IT investment management have been identified, the application of these concepts is very much a work in progress. Application is confounded by the contemporary recognition and acknowledgement that real processes and procedures must be adapted in response to different missions, assumptions and constraints. Alignment with institutional goals and programmatic uniqueness are both integral parts of the contemporary IT management equation. The window of opportunity is now. The success of LITRE and the success of institution goals will be significantly influenced by on how well we respond to the challenge for better IT investment management. No ready model or template exists for us to emulate. We must choose to lead or wait, and the cost of waiting will likely be unacceptably high. The proposal is to define, structure and execute an initiative to move NC State through the three stages defined by the GAO. Implementation: The following initial actions are proposed: 1. Marquee and promote the issue of IT investment management and build campus commitment to the concept and the process. This will involve putting together a compelling and persuasive case statement and engaging the EOM, TLTR, Dean’s Council, and others in a constructive dialogue. 2. Involve campus faculty and researchers who could lend special expertise and insight to this effort. Write a proposal and solicit external funding to conduct a major study and follow-on development of a framework/ model for IT investment management and assessment. 3. Concurrently, form a campus taskforce to articulate the differentiating missions, assumptions and constraints that must be accommodated. The taskforce should identify the portfolio of campus IT investments. The taskforce should work out implementation details specific to NC State and help facilitate implementation of new procedures and practices. The taskforce must exercise diligence to ensure that parochial interests are subordinated to strategic institutional interests. The taskforce must be an advocate ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 21 August, 2003
  23. 23. for meaningful change. Outcomes assessment: The desired outcome is improved accountability for IT investments and improved data for evaluating decisions. Assessment of success of initiative will be based on 1. Increased knowledge and understanding of NC State’s investment portfolio. 2. Development of a methodology for assessing, assigning value and calculating ROI. 3. Improved linkage between IT investments and strategic outcomes. Additional Resources: • Funding for faculty release time to conduct study and develop a framework of best IT investment management practices for NC State. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 22 August, 2003
  24. 24. B. Initiatives contributing to the university’s planning for “Student Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment” B1. Integrated Collaborative Technology and Assessment Project Description and objectives: The Learning in a Technology Rich Environment (LITRE) Quality Enhancement Plan is expected to provide not only highly current high quality learning content and methodologies but also an advanced easy-to-use technology framework which blends the environments and workflows within which the teachers, learners and other researchers operate. Many academic department and support units, including ITD, are proposing new technology initiatives in support of the goals of LITRE. While the importance of outcomes assessment is being integrated into LITRE planning, there is currently no coherent effort or mechanism to integrate technology efforts beyond their own focal point. The objective of this project is to provide an umbrella effort that would explore and lead inter-project technology integration, management and assessment efforts that would eventually result in a suite of centrally supported university-level technology services and resources for support of student learning in a technology-rich environment. Education workflows, and especially those that may be termed "distance education," become particularly intense and difficult to manage when faculty wish to integrate them with laboratory exercises and research results from rapidly changing fields such as multimedia, biomedical engineering and genetics, advanced networking, and high- performance computing. Students’ effective and creative interaction with such materials, especially in an online environment, invariably requires access to state-of-the-art resources that are often very expensive and in short supply. Conflicting issues that arise include how to minimize the cost and impact of the geographical dispersion of researchers, course authors, course instructors, students, and instructional and laboratory facilities while at the same time maximizing knowledge transfer, student success, and retention rates. A key part of the solution to this apparent conflict is to provide the means for socially-sensitive and responsive collaboration combined with modern workflow, networking and computing technology. Collaborative technologies in the form of whiteboards, interactive video teleconferencing or teaching, and real-time simulations have been around for a long time. Where these seem to fall short is the social interaction that students often need to learn most effectively—for example, being in the classroom together, or working in study teams. There is some evidence that the probability of success for many as 30% of students may considerably benefit if a social component is integrated into the "standard" IT environment and everyday workflows. There is also a suite of "agile" computer interaction and development methods (that are team or pair-work oriented). Proponents of these methods claim they lead to better project results and better learning for certain categories of students. All agile methodologies (a recent example in Computer Science is Extreme Programming) are highly collaborative and social in nature. There is evidence, for example, that some minority groups, and in general a fair fraction of women and men may be helped by this approach especially when it is actively supported by IT. Because these approaches often provide additional and alternative learning options for students with different learning styles, they can help the knowledge transfer, student success, and retention rates of many students, including those with disabilities. Another key part of the solution is to incorporate these technologies into the campus learning infrastructure and assess their performance and impact on learning in a cost-effective way. In addition to ITD’s initiatives to provide advanced technologies to support LITRE (the virtual computing lab and mobile computing services initiatives are two examples) we anticipate that colleges will also be developing collaborative technologies to advance active- learning and inquiry-based learning paradigms. Coordination of campus efforts and centralized support and assessment are needed to make the best use of campus expertise, avoid wasteful duplications of efforts, and ensure an advanced, interoperable, easy-to-use technology-rich environment for NC State. Implementation: • Establish a process for campus-wide identification, assessment, and integration of information technologies in support of LITRE. Periodically (at least once a year, perhaps once very 6 months) conduct end-user surveys for each of the projects in the category to validate project development direction and efforts with ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 23 August, 2003
  25. 25. respect to end-user needs and expectations (and potential satisfaction) Identify and prototype technology integration issues in areas such as networking (e.g., remote laboratory security kits - firewall, station fortification recipes, laboratory self-monitoring services for intrusion and similar), computer security, remote access, etc, for a broad range of customer disciplines. Investigate, suggest and facilities cross- project interactions and results integration. Possibly other related activities. • Establish a set of practical facilities (test-bed) for assessment and integration of campus LITRE technologies. Formalize the test-bed chain of development and assessment platforms and procedures in the form of student teaching labs, individual research labs, university technology transfer labs (e.g., Centaur Lab) for a number of lab facilities in the university that can make use of IT (e.g., bioinformatics, chemistry, social sciences, etc.). Define IT related operational profiles of the facilities that may become IT intensive, or have specific IT needs so that this can be later translated into infrastructure planning (e.g., networking quality of service, remote access software, remote access to computers, remote access to other lab equipment, etc.). Develop some IT integration kits for labs and facilities going online in a more intense fashion, coordinate and collaborate with IT departments in colleges; also suggest possible directions. Possibly other related activities. • Assist in practical technology transfer of LITRE technologies found to be appropriate and cost-effective. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 24 August, 2003
  26. 26. B2. Information Technology Fluency Initiative: Tutorial Center / ITD Collaboration Pilot Proposal Description and objectives: From the time they first come to campus, most NC State students need a significant level of computing skills, an understanding of the campus academic computing environment, and knowledge of the principles of being a prudent network citizen to do well in their college careers. For reasons of regional or economic background, not all students come to campus with the IT fluency they need. This has been an ongoing concern for ITD (see http://www.ncsu.edu/ itfluency/). As the unit that develops and implements the campus-wide student computing environment, ITD provides help desk services and online tutorials and documentation to help students learn to use the technology resources available to them. In 1999 ITD proposed a Basic Information Technology Fluency Initiative, and although the initiative was not funded, ITD has since that time enhanced New Student Orientation efforts with the production of NC State Computing Essentials CDs, the very popular Computing@NC State tabloid newspaper and more training opportunities for incoming students. However, ITD does not have the staff to provide hands-on student IT training or skills assessment throughout the academic year, as is customary on peer campuses (e.g., the ATN Computer Training Center at UNC-CH). ITD staff are now working closely with the LITRE team to support their IT Fluency efforts. In conjunction with LITRE planning, ITD is collaborating with the Division of Undergraduate Affairs and the UGATutorial Services on a LITRE proposal to conduct a computer consulting/tutorial services pilot project. The project will provide “just-in- time” tutorial assistance for students who have questions about basic software functions; for instance, how to cut and paste in a word processing program; how to expand cells in a spreadsheet program; or how to apply a design to a multimedia presentation. Assistance will also be available for the use of communications tools such as e-mail or listservs in the networked environment. UGA will work with its partners across campus (undergraduate coordinators, Student Affairs, and student leaders) to publicize and promote this tutorial service. The primary objectives are to • provide “just-in-time” tutorial assistance for students who have questions about basic software functions • improve students’ access to basic computer and application support • provide a mechanism for assessing students’ needs for additional technological support. Funding for this pilot project is currently being requested through the LITRE budget. However, the findings of this project may indicate that an expansion of student IT Fluency efforts is needed to enhance student learning and retention. Implementation: Phase 1: • Tutors and supplemental instructors will participate in a training course currently offered to the IT help desk staff. Throughout the fall semester, in the context of their routine subject-specific tutoring, tutors will use an electronic tracking system to track questions or advice about technology programs sought by their students. • Two tutors will be designated special computing consultants to provide just-in-time support for students having difficulty with software functions. One tutor will work in one of the Unity labs (most likely Tucker Hall) while the other will work at the drop-in tutorial center in Witherspoon. To ensure that their time is used wisely, the tutors are also subject-matter experts who can provide standard tutorial support when not working with students with computer questions. These tutors will also track the number, nature, and depth of the questions they are asked. The data will help with assessing whether the service is needed, whether it should be expanded, and whether the tutors have received appropriate training to provide meaningful service. • In December/January, project leaders will review the number and kinds of questions asked and the amount of time all tutors spent working with students on technology-related questions and problems. The data will ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 25 August, 2003
  27. 27. be used determine whether a more permanent arrangement needs to be made for tutorial support. At that time, the pilot program may be expanded, ended, or modified as needed for Phase 2. (It is possible, for instance, that ITD will want to assign a tutor to sit at the IT help desk to provide software instruction (i.e., how to make the program do x) while the help desk staff provides more standard trouble-shooting. Phase 2: • ITD proposes to adjust the scope and/or quantity of this service as indicated by the tracking results. Additionally, continuing and expanded support will be guided by input from campus resources such as faculty surveys, input from the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, and input from LITRE. Outcomes assessment: The outcomes of this IT Fluency Initiative pilot project are intended to advance the university’s goal of creating a diverse and inclusive learning environment as well as the LITRE goal of enhancing student learning through the use of technology. This initiative is expected to enhance inclusiveness and contribute to student learning by removing barriers that impede or prevent learning and performance. Students who are unable to perform basic software or communications functions may spend valuable study time struggling with the applications and become frustrated, reducing the amount of learning that occurs in the subject or discipline and increasing failure or drop-out rates for certain students. On the other hand, a working knowledge of the basic IT tools provides a necessary competence for learning in the university’s technology rich environment. For example, students who are incapable of negotiating WebAssign, WolfWare, spreadsheets, online databases, web sites, e-mail, word processing, or multimedia programs are closed off from sources of learning and unable to meet course requirements that are prevalent in the campus technology-rich environment. The intent of Phase 1 of this project is to assess whether students need additional help in order to manage basic computer functions, and if so, what kind of and how much help. The matter of whether they need help, may be masked by whether they will come to tutors for that kind of help (i.e., they may seek out roommates, classmates, and others for help rather than coming to a specific site on campus). If they do come to tutors, however, we will have begun to document the existence and amount of need for this specialized form of tutorial support. Phase 1 may also provide indicators of the need on campus for further expansion of IT support for students. Because we do not know how many students need these services or whether they will avail themselves of the tutorial service, the pilot project will (1) offer basic support and (2) track the kinds of questions students ask who are already involved in tutorial support services. (See http://www.ncsu.edu/tutorial_center/ ) The assessment will be based on the tracking results. Phase 2 of this project will depend upon the results of Phase 1, plus input based on the LITRE faculty survey, from FCTL and LITRE. This data will help determine the appropriateness of expanding the scope of student IT tutoring. Resources: The primary expense for the pilot project will be for tutor salaries and laptops (purchased so no computer station is required for the service). ITD will provide the training for the computer content, while Tutorial Services will provide the training for tutoring. ITD has a tracking mechanism (Remedy) for all tutors to chart questions. If questions become more sophisticated, ITD may need to hire more, or more specialized tutors for technological support. The tracking of questions and needs will help determine any future costs. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 26 August, 2003
  28. 28. B3. Wireless Data Connectivity Build-out and Wireless Service Delivery Description and objectives: Teaching in a technology-rich environment will have a heavy mobility component. The wireless infrastructure needs to be in place early before initiatives that depend on the wireless backbone can proceed. Mobile computing devices such as PDAs (Personal Data Assistants) will provide a richer learning experience on campus. These pedagogies will depend on a robust wireless data infrastructure. (See B5.) Recent advances in wireless LAN technology have created the opportunity to supplement and expand current wired infrastructure to provide additional network connectivity that will meet the needs of a more mobile campus population. The wireless data connectivity build-out initiative involves providing nomadic computing access across campus. This endeavor is designed to provide the students, faculty, and staff a new level of convenience and access to the campus data network. The goal of this initiative is to provide the university community the ability to be mobile and “wander the campus” while still being connected to the resources available through the NC State data network. ComTech will continue the deployment and operation of wireless LAN capability to campus, to extend coverage to additional areas according to the schedule established by the user advisory group. This initiative has the following primary objectives: • Assure “students first” access to wireless computing at NC State • Explore a variety of wireless services and wireless service delivery options for faculty, staff, and students. Implementation, outcomes and assessment: “Students first” access to wireless computing: This initiative will be focused on students first. Access for faculty, staff, (and perhaps visitors) will be relegated a lower priority. The general principles that will be used to determine which buildings and courtyards will be provisioned first include the following: • Buildings used by students for study purposes (classroom buildings, student centers, libraries, etc.) • Outdoor courtyards used by students • Other academic/research buildings • Administrative and support buildings (with little student use) • Buildings with major renovations planned in near term. The full plan has an implementation schedule of five years. This schedule may be improved with the addition of more money initially and an FTE for design and installation. Completion of the first assessable outcome will be the complete the installation of wireless access points in the buildings and areas scheduled for 2003-2004 (deadline June 30, 2004). Ongoing assessment of progress will be done by reviewing the schedule with the user advisory group at least once a year to ensure that the schedule is, at minimum, meeting the campus needs. Explore a variety of wireless services and wireless service delivery options for faculty, staff, and students. The primary goals of the wireless services portion of the initiative are to: • Provide faculty/staff/and students leading-edge wireless technology at preferred rates. • Develop appropriate strategies that enable integration of new wireless services with existing telephone, messaging, and web access capabilities. Assessment of options and recommendations will be developed by an advisory group that will research the following issues: • Integration of wireless voice services with existing university systems. • Messaging alternatives • Service alternatives • Wireless coverage. ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 27 August, 2003
  29. 29. The advisory group will create a report that outlines some of the vendors and offerings in this field. They will assess the technological issues and pedagogical implications and create a recommendation of how to proceed in the next year (deadline June 30, 2004). ITD Compact Plan, Round 1 28 August, 2003

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