Working with IT: Become a Partner, not a Client


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Concurrent session presented with Meg Brown-Sica and Niraj Chaudhary at the Colorado Academic Library Consortium (CALC) Summit 2010

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Working with IT: Become a Partner, not a Client

  1. 1. Working with IT: Become a Partner, Not a Client Meg Brown-Sica, Niraj Chaudhary & Nina McHale University of Colorado Denver CALC Summit 2010
  2. 2. #calc2010 #workingwithit
  3. 3. Our Agenda • Background – Auraria Library and Auraria Campus – Systems at Auraria – Relationship with UCD campus IT • Projects – Web server migration/virtualization (Nina) – Network server virtualization (Niraj) – Thin Client (Niraj) – Technology Strategic Planning (Meg) • Tips for becoming a partner
  4. 4. Background • Auraria Library and Auraria Campus • Systems Department at Auraria • Relationship with University of Colorado Denver Information Technology Services (UCD ITS)
  5. 5. Auraria Library and the Auraria Campus • Auraria Library serves: – University of Colorado Denver (includes both Auraria Campus and Anschutz Medical Campus) – Metropolitan State College of Denver (MSCD) – Community College of Denver (CCD) • All Library faculty and staff are University of Colorado Denver employees
  6. 6. Systems at Auraria • Systems librarian positions and department date to the early 1990s • Initial reporting for the department was directly to Library Administration • In the late 1990s, Technical Services became a full-blown division • Systems reporting line then went through Assistant Dean for Technical Services
  7. 7. Systems at Auraria, cont’d • In 2008, the Library undertook a major reorganization of staff • Like many other academic libraries, the top-level divisions have now been split into three: – Public Services – Technical Services – Systems/IT Services • An Assistant Director heads each
  8. 8. Systems at Auraria, cont’d • No staff turnover for fifteen years • Main IT technician and network administrator retired – Positions filled (more or less) internally • Hiring Freeze • New University Librarian/Library Director • New UCD ITS Director
  9. 9. Systems at Auraria, cont’d AD for Technology Strategy and Learning Spaces (Meg) IT Manager (Niraj) Helpdesk Manager IT Student IT Student IT Student Web Librarian (Nina)
  10. 10. Relationship with UCD Campus IT • Auraria Library Systems staff provides: – Desktop support to librarians and staff – In-house web development for the Library • UCD Campus ITS provides: – Network accounts and email – Campus wireless networks – Storage space and shared drive access
  11. 11. The Projects • Web server virtualization (Nina) • Server virtualization (Niraj) • Thin client (Niraj) • Strategic planning (Meg)
  12. 12. Outline for Each Project • Basic concepts • Project background & goals • Process • Outcomes • Lessons learned • Future plans
  13. 13. Web Server Virtualization: Basic Concepts • “Server virtualization is the masking of server resources, including the number and identity of individual physical servers, processors, and operating systems, from server users. The server administrator uses a software application to divide one physical server into multiple isolated virtual environments. The virtual environments are sometimes called virtual private servers, but they are also known as guests, instances, containers or emulations.” –
  14. 14. Web Server Virtualization: Basic Concepts, cont’d Catalog Electronic Reserves Web Site Virtualized Server
  15. 15. Web Server Virtualization: Basic Concepts, cont’d • Analogies: virtualization is like: – A school bus – A car pool – A group house for college students • In short: a more efficient use of computing and staff resources
  16. 16. Web Server Virtualization: Basic Concepts, cont’d • Benefits: – UCD ITS performs server maintenance and backups, giving Library Systems staff more time to focus on web development – UCD ITS houses server in suitable environment; the Library does not have an appropriate climate-controlled environment for servers
  17. 17. Web Server Virtualization: Project Background & Goals • Library web site had been developed on a UCD server that hosted all UCD web sites (main university site, departmental sites, etc.) as well as faculty and staff email and other applications • Library URL was – Cumbersome and not intuitive – was alias – Better, but still not tri-institutional
  18. 18. Web Server Virtualization: Project Background & Goals, cont’d • New (and only the second) Web Librarian arrived in February 2006 • Only five members of the library staff had publishing rights to the web server • This created an editorial bottleneck for content developers • When asked why, response from UCD ITS was that it was a “security issue”
  19. 19. Web Server Virtualization: Project Background & Goals, cont’d • When asked for clarification, the UCD ITS server support person explained that there was “too much personal information” on the web server • Web Librarian explained that patron data is stored in-house on the Library’s Innovative Interfaces’ ILS • From then on, the Web Librarian was free to assign web server accounts as desired, but UCD ITS had to do the work
  20. 20. Web Server Virtualization: Project Background & Goals, cont’d • “Carbon” server ran Tru64 UNIX with Apache for the web server • The campus web group had begun migrating web content to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) • Since 2002, Library had developed dynamic applications using PHP and MySQL
  21. 21. Web Server Virtualization: Project Background & Goals, cont’d • As the Carbon server aged, UCD ITS began planning its retirement • Performance issues arose for the Library site as fewer departments used it for their web sites • The Library did not “fit” into MOSS: – Branding issues: Metro and CCD students are often not sure that we are really their library – Running PHP/MySQL on an IIS server is possible, but it introduces complexity
  22. 22. Web Server Virtualization: Process • In February 2007, Library Systems staff (Web and Distance Support Librarians and Network Administrator) met with UCD ITS to discuss the Library’s web needs • Desired a LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) environment in which to continue developing • Required an environment free from any branding restrictions, including URL • Began using as main URL
  23. 23. Web Server Virtualization: Process, cont’d • UCD ITS designated a new employee to be a support contact and create the virtual environment and assist the Web Librarian during the migration and beyond • PHP and MySQL applications needed to be upgraded prior to the migration to the new environment
  24. 24. Web Server Virtualization: Outcomes • In April 2008, the Library’s main web site went live on new virtualized server • Excellent performance: 2 outages in 2 years • Web Librarian has complete control over account creation and file management • Virtual hosts have been established, i.e., more URLS: – –
  25. 25. Web Server Virtualization: Outcomes, cont’d • UCD ITS support contact trained Web Librarian in Linux to create and manage accounts and permissions on web files • UCD ITS support contact continued to provide support in installing applications and upgrading server software • Installed open source software, including MediaWiki for our intranet and Bugzilla for IT ticket creating and workflow tracking and Drupal for next iteration of the web site
  26. 26. Web Server Virtualization: Lessons Learned • Ad hoc arrangements between individuals, no matter how well-intentioned, can create dangerous points of failure • Development has occurred so rapidly that one librarian can’t manage it all • More skills—especially programming and server management—are needed in- house
  27. 27. Web Server Virtualization: Future Plans • IT Manager will take over more server maintenance needs – The Library can be even more autonomous – Web Librarian can focus on development instead of maintenance – UCD ITS support contact has changed focus • Systems staff developing more skills in-house • Possibility of migrating to another supported non-MOSS environment • The Library has hired a programmer on a four-month contract
  28. 28. Server Virtualization: Background & Goals • In 2008, six physical servers in the Library hosted various library applications (printing, electronic reserves, hosted specific software etc.) • The hardware warranty on four of the servers had expired in 2004 • The Library lacked a proper environment (i.e., a datacenter) in which to host servers (climate control, etc.)
  29. 29. Server Virtualization: Project Background & Goals • UCD ITS had the virtual environment infrastructure (VMware) • UCD ITS had a better physical environment to host servers and 24 hour support in case of critical outages • Library Systems staff worked with ITS to determine applications compatibility with the virtual environment
  30. 30. Server Virtualization: Process • Timeline: June 8, 2009 – August 31, 2009 • IT Services hosted 4 virtual servers • Library Systems migrated all the applications from physical servers to the new virtual servers
  31. 31. Server Virtualization: Outcomes • System administrative functions like security, patching, and backups on the servers are performed by UCD ITS • This allows Library Systems staff to focus on other support issues • The Library saves electricity, space, and staff time
  32. 32. Thin Client: Basic Concepts
  33. 33. Thin Client: Basic Concepts, cont’d • Thin clients are smaller, cheaper, and easy to manage • Based on the studies, thin-client devices are more energy-efficient than desktop computers, with some models using 85% less power than their PC rivals in real world environments.
  34. 34. Thin Client: Project Background & Goals • 90 aging desktop computers in public area for students, staff, faculty, and public patrons • Estimated hardware cost was $70,000 to replace those computers • Systems started looking for a cheaper, greener option
  35. 35. Thin Client: Process • Virtual desktops can be delivered to any device (desktop, laptops, Mac, thin clients, and even mobile devices such as the iPhone); only requires is Citrix plug-ins • We decided to evaluate Citrix’s XenDesktop to deliver virtual desktops • Hired a Citrix Consultant • They set up a pilot with 10 Virtual machine • We decided to implement XenDesktop
  36. 36. Thin Client: Process, cont’d • Remote Computing Initiative (RCI) project launched by UCD ITS – Response to campus planning for H1N1 – Enabled UCD faculty and staff to work from home more effectively • UCD ITS delivered virtual desktops through a web browser • The Library was delivering virtual desktops through thin clients
  37. 37. Thin Client: Process, cont’d • UCD ITS decided to expand their Citrix Infrastructure, and they needed a beta tester • Library systems began collaborating with them • This helped UCD ITS determine hardware needs • UCD ITS will offer XenDesktop to other departments
  38. 38. Thin Client: Outcomes • Associated Costs: – XenDesktop Licensing = $15,000 – Hardware (servers) = $15,000 – Thin Clients = $35,000 • ROI analysis (from Citrix consultants): – Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings of $265,080 over 5 years (compared to replacing desktop PCs)
  39. 39. Thin Client: Future Plans • Library has purchased 90 thin clients • Library Systems staff will be working with UCD ITS to deploy them • Library Systems staff are looking to replace other desktops in the library with thin clients (i.e., Computer Commons) • Increase number of computers in public area because of improved use of resources (electricity, money, etc.)
  40. 40. Technology Strategy Planning: Basic Concepts • Technology issues change too fast to be adequately handled in multi-year strategic plan • Helps identify the best use of skills, time and money • Look for the most impact for library users • Prioritize technology projects
  41. 41. Technology Strategy Planning: Project Background & Goals • Ensure inclusion of UCD ITS so that they are partners, not gatekeepers • Develop personal relationships with UCD ITS
  42. 42. Technology Strategy Planning: Process • Library wide survey of potential projects • Evaluation of skills, time, money and personnel needed • Evaluation of what portions of projects are outsourced and which should be completed in house • Analysis how projects could be coordinated with UCD ITS • Impact of each project is evaluated, specifically the impact on students
  43. 43. Technology Strategy Planning: Process, cont’d • Library Technology Strategy Committee- UCD ITS member/liaison • Informal weekly technology meetings • Specific task forces-UCD ITS member on Mobile Device task force • Library is represented on the Thin Client Group at UCD ITS • Library is represented on the ITS policy committee, and ITS search committees
  44. 44. Technology Strategy Planning: Outcomes • UCD ITS is at the table when we are doing our strategic planning • The library and UCD ITS both know about upcoming projects • The library and UCD ITS can coordinate purchases and training • Everyone in the library is on the same page regarding technology • Library systems staff develop and acquire the skills needed to support projects
  45. 45. Technology Strategy Planning: Outcomes, cont’d • Greatly improved support for projects from UCD ITS and across the Library • High-impact projects are actually completed • Coordinated training, purchasing and testing with UCD ITS on thin client, server virtualization, mobile technology, etc. • Greater trust and more personal relationships
  46. 46. Technology Strategy Planning: Lessons Learned • Concentrate on fewer, higher impact projects • Base decisions on evidence • Document, document, document • Project management is a work in progress • Try things to see how they work • Don’t get discouraged • Meet with people face-to-face
  47. 47. Technology Strategy Planning: Lessons Learned, cont’d • A re-evaluation: what things that we do are best done in-house or by people with a knowledge of libraries? Yes No Library Applications Network Administration Desktop Maintenance Training/Enterprise Applications Web development Server Virtualization
  48. 48. Technology Strategy Planning: Future Plans • Reach out to MSCD and CCD technology groups, especially on authentication • Work more closely with UCD Health Sciences Library systems staff • Re-evaluate technology needs after web migration to Drupal and program review • Continue to investigate training options (, etc.)
  49. 49. Tips for Becoming a Partner • Be an advocate: library IT is different – Campus IT may not understand your needs, especially when it comes to ILSs and library- specific applications • Communicate your library’s needs clearly – When you get no for an answer, ask why – Ask campus IT provide alternatives
  50. 50. Tips for Becoming a Partner, cont’d • Build trust – Don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face communication – Show that you are willing to take on new duties and learn new things – Offer to be a test environment • Formalize agreements with MOUs
  51. 51. Questions? Comments? • Margaret Brown-Sica – Assistant Director for Technology Strategy and Learning Spaces – • Niraj Chaudhary – IT Manager – • Nina McHale – Web Librarian –
  52. 52.