IT Projects

Here is a list of the top projects that CIS is working on at the moment, culled from a total of fifty nine projects.

Project Portfolio Management

Description: Project Portfolio Management involves balancing, prioritizing and tracking the progress of a collection of projects. Depending on how you define “project”, CIS can have 50+ projects going at any given time. Over the past couple of years we have been evolving a more comprehensive and coherent approach to both individual project management and project portfolio management. With this project portfolio management initiative we aim to settle on a set of practices and tools to streamline this process.

Goals: Identify and deploy project management tools that we can use to track projects. List CIS projects on new CIS website, with links to brief quarterly updates.

Status: 4/9/2014: We continue to use the spreadsheet to track projects and as the source of updates for the CIS website. We continue our investigation of RoadMap.

2/26/2014: We have been using a Google spreadsheet to track our projects. It records such things as desired outcomes and forecasts of quarterly milestones. By using and revising the spreadheet we are getting better idea of what we would like to see in software for project portfolio management. The CIS Management Team reviews the spreadsheet regularly and we have identified our top projects for the year. We have also recently been taking an initial look at Roadmap.  You are looking at the list of projects on the new CIS web page!

Develop Institutional Cloud Computing Strategy

Description: As HMC departments increasingly purchase Software as a Service options, it is important for the College to develop an institutional cloud computing strategy. The College needs to manage the risks associated with contracting for cloud computing services, and ensure that data is carefully managed across cloud applications.

Goals: Finalize SaaS questions and release on Formstack (instead of .docx format)
Cabinet and Computing Committee discussions of Cloud Computing take place.
Strategy recommendations accepted by Cabinet & disseminated
Make sure that we go back and collect the SaaS information for CIS contracts that already exist

Status: 4/9/2014: Some questions have been added to the SaaS list. Otherwise, no update.

2/26/2014: We have had a set of SaaS questions since 2009. Whenever a department is contracting for cloud services, and CIS knows about it, we ask the vendor to complete the questions. We would like to ensure that this is the practice for all cloud vendors. We are converting the questions into a Formstack form (encrypted answers). In Spring 2014 we hope to put out a strategy statement that can be approved by Cabinet. The BOT Audit Committee has recommended that we review audit documents from the vendor companies at least every two years.

Develop and Implement a Comprehensive ITIF Network Plan

Description:The Harvey Mudd Campus network, and indeed the network beyond campus (which is managed by CINE), have evolved over time, rather than being designed. With the creation of an IT infrastructure fund (ITIF) in January 2013, we have an opportunity to design a network that will support the College’s needs in the next five to ten years. Working with appropriate vendor(s), we are developing a comprehensive plan for the HMC campus network (wired and wireless), and have begun implementation of the plan. Our emphasis will be on high speed network connectivity, appropriate wireless density, redundancy and diversity for network survivability.

Goals: Complete and implement ITIF project plan for 2013-14 to include major decision regarding Parsons network design. Complete ITIF project plan for 2014-15.

Status: 4/9/2014: Detailed planning for the Parsons rewiring and the new dorm are underway. We have identified a potential location for the second CINE core switch. We have purchased equipment for Parsons and are working with the building occupants regarding network down time during the summer and future network needs.

2/26/2014: We have a complete list of ITIF projects for 2013-14 and have begun sketching out projects for 2014-15. Network upgrades have taken place in Olin and Keck, as well as five dorms and the President’s house. A major upgrade is planned for Summer 2014 in Parsons, including rewiring of the building.

Continue IAM@HMC Initiative

Description: The Identity and Access Management (IAM@HMC) measure will create the following:

  • self-service password management
  • automated provisioning and deprovisioning of accounts, based on role
  • evidence of compliance with policies and regulations (audit trail)
  • web Single Sign On (SSO) between applications
  • Membership in InCommon

Goals: We would like to complete phase III and IV of the Fischer project, which will bring more applications into the single sign on environment and provide automated account provisioning and deprovisioning. We would like to join InCommon and begin federated login to services outside of HMC. We would like to replace wildcard security certificates with individual certificates

Status: 4/9/2014: Implementation of Phase III automated account provisioning/deprovisioning continues. Continue Portal SSO testing.

2/26/2014:Phase III of the Fischer project is currently being tested. Automated account creation has been demonstrated, but due to problems with the test environment, launch of the project has been delayed, probably until summer 2014. The new Admission software, Slate, has been included in the Single Sign On (SSO) environment. HMC recently became the 600th member of InCommon.

Implement Improved Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans

Description: Design and build improved data backup processes. Using those processes as a foundation, design and build a disaster recovery plan that will ensure a quick return to normal business functions after a disaster.

Goals: CIS staff would like to review hybrid cloud computing options for backup processes and make a recommendation for implementation. We would like to document current backup processes and design of new backup processes. We plan to upgrade VMware infrastructure to 5.5; install vCOPs to monitor resource utilization; analyze our VMware environment for hybrid solution readiness. We will research hybrid backup solutions and cloud Infrastructure as a Service solutions.

Status: 4/9/2014: Upgrading SAN and compute resources in preparation for VMware 5.5. Began building development virtual machines in Microsoft Azure for testing various applications. Transitioning existing backups to StorSimple.

2/26/2014: In January 2014 we obtained a StorSimple appliance which will perform automated segmentation of our data into hot (frequently used) and cold (less frequently used) and back it up to Microsoft Azure Cloud Storage. We have upgraded VMware and installed vCOPS to gain insight into which virtual servers need resources.

Implement policies and procedures that will increase IT security

Description: Maintaining IT security is an ongoing process, rather than a specific project deliverable. We need to constantly update and improve our approach to information security.

Goals: Each quarter, we would like to take at least two significant steps that increase security and lower risk for the College, without significantly compromising ease of use. We would like to see increased awareness in the HMC community of the HMC Password Policy. We would also like to develop IT security policies and keep the BOT Audit Committee apprised of progress. As a stretch goal, we would like to begin developing data stewardship guidelines for use by all who manage data for the College.

Status: 4/9/2014: Policy on Safeguarding Confidential and Sensitive Information is under review by College Counsel. Statement on Incidental Personal Use is under review by College Counsel. Intercollegiate Network and System Administration (NSA) group is upgrading security protocols (OSPF). OpenSSL “heartbleed” vulnerability is being addressed.


Q4 2013 (Oct-Dec)

  • HSA Portlet increased security of Educational Records related to HSA advising.
  • Request to faculty to synchronize passwords using Identity and Access Management Portal

Q1 2014 (Jan-Mar)

  • Launched educational initiative with Data Privacy Month, including information about password policy and ways to create better passwords.
  • Plan to finalize Policy on Safeguarding Confidential and Sensitive Information

Every month we use the TrustWave service to scan CIS managed servers for vulnerabilities.


Improve Email systems that are controlled by CIS

Description: Although we have moved to Google Apps and Office365, HMC retains responsibility for mailing list management and mail flow. Harvey Mudd relies extensively on mailing lists for internal communication. The current list management software is obsolete. We need to develop and implement plans for replacement. We also need to clarify/improve the mail flow through mail central and IronPort systems.

Goals: We would like to document current mailing list practices and conduct needs assessment regarding lists and groups.
Review options and make a formal recommendation, including the possibility of discontinuing CIS involvement in group and list creation and management. Implement approved recommendation. Configure and to send outbound through IronPort Research IronPort’s ability to make determination for mail flow to GAE or O365 bypassing mail central. Research replacement for majordomo (e.g., Google Groups)”

Status: 4/9/2014: Renewed group discussions to determine email list alternatives. Building L-Soft listserv development environment in Microsoft Azure for testing dynamic LDAP queries and majordomo migrations.

2/26/2014: We have installed IronPort and, despite some initial glitches, it is performing well and is easier to maintain than Postini. We are researching how it could function as a replacement for mail central, routing mail appropriately to its destination. We have begun moving lists that are not automatically generated to Google Groups on, as well as creating new lists in Google Groups.

Develop CIS Service Catalog

Description: A service catalog lists all the services provided by CIS, with information about how to request service and details of what one can expect. We need to create and publish a CIS Service Catalog

Goals: CIS groups will provide a draft of service catalog during Q4 2013.  Service Catalog will be released on website by Q2 2014.

Status: 4/9/2014: A first draft of the CIS Service Catalog was released on the new CIS web site on January 18, 2014. We continue to add service catalog items to the list and have begun creating separate pages that will list the services by category as well as by specific audiences. For example, a faculty services page will include information on educational technology resources such as high performance computing. The student specific page will contain information of use to current students as well as incoming students.

2/26/2014: The first draft of the Servce Catalog was released with the new website on January 18, 2014.

Increase portal reliability and usability

Description: Continuing the project we started last year, we are accelerating our efforts to improve the reliability and usability of the JICS Portal.

Goals: We hope, after PAG advice, to release a schedule of work on the Portal Improvements. We will implement Single Sign On for the Portal so that people can log on with their HMC Credentials.

Status: 4/9/2014: Made improvements to the Summer Research application process – off-campus applicants can use the portal to submit their information. Presented the Portal 5C Academic Advisory system at a Bite of Learning session. We are currently working on modifying it for HMC. The Student Statement presentment is on production for beta testing and a soft rollout with selected parents. The update to JICS 8 is scheduled for Summer 2014. PAG met and voted on top projects. PAG will meet again this quarter to discuss the voting results and advise on the priority of the projects.

2/26/2014: In the Fall of 2013 the Portal system memory was doubled and more CPU resources were added, which noticeably improved the Portal speed. A new HSA advising system, including online advisor approval of proposed courses, was implemented in time for pre-reg advising. Current projects include presenting student statements via the Portal, and upgrading to a new version of JICS.

PAG work stalled somewhat during the Fall, although Chair Mark Ashley, Susan Selhorst and Gerald Reyes made progress on assessing the Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) of each project. This is in preparation for ranking by the PAG, which is scheduled to begin in February 2014.

Enhance technical skills and develop knowledge repository

Description: This initiative will encompass goals in two areas:
1: The Campus Operations and First Line Support
2: Technical Skill Set Base Knowledge
As part of the initiative, for each service we deliver, we need to make crystal clear (internally in CIS):
1. Mutual understanding of tier one responsibilities.
2. Mutual understanding of which services are core and we need to know most about.
3 Mutual understanding of Ticket Owner & Assignees roles.

Goals: We would like to create a template for capturing service tiers by service. And begin by documenting service tiers for three services. We would like to increase the level of first contact resolution for service requests and problem reports. To do that we need to define first contact resolution for each services. We can then define metrics for first contact resolution.

Status: 03/15/2014: Six services were identified for tiering and developing processes for first contact resolution, FCR.
1. Sakai [ETMS, USG]
2. AV support for events [ETMS, USG]
3. Identity and Access Management — account creation. [SNG, USG]
4. Wireless troubleshooting. [SNG,USG]
5. OnBase [DSES,USG]
6. Impromptu [DSES, USG]

02/26/2014: Tiers are most clearly defined for Sakai services, which already had a Service Level Agreement in place. We are now considering a new effort to define tiers for audiovisual support. We have also done quite a bit of work to define tiers for web support (which we sometimes pass to OCA communications as tier two support). We have not yet defined first contact resolution for a service.

Improve use of Google Apps and Office365

Description:We would like to build on investment in Google Apps and Office365 by sharing knowledge about and leveraging the functionality of these systems.

Goals: Ensure that all HMC faculty and students have accounts. Work with Engineering Department to understand paper based office procedures and make recommendations regarding use of Google Apps. Begin series of informal workshops about taking advantage of the functionality of Google Apps and Office365.  Complete implementation of Google Apps based services that were created by students during Summer 2013.

Status: 2/26/2014: All but two faculty have accounts. CIS staff is meeting regularly with representatives from the Engineering Department to understand their office procedures. We have not yet held informal workshops on using Google Apps.

Reorganize Audio Visual Operations

Description: We are reorganizing to support Audio Visual operations out of the User Support group, freeing the Educational Technology group to focus more on educational technology which includes scientific computing and the development of new AV services.  The User Support team is bigger and more geared toward fast response times, both of which will be advantages when it comes to supporting AV requests.

Goals:  During a six month transition period, integrate most AV services into user support.

Status: 4/9/2014: Routine audiovisual support has almost entirely migrated to the User Support Group. Michael Meyka now reports to Cindy Abercrombie. James Sadler has a new position and title, Instructional Media Specialist, and is shifting his focus from audiovisual support to supporting faculty and students in their use of educational technology, including lecture capture, the Smartboard, and wireless projection.

2/26/2014: We have begun the transition, including rewriting job descriptions and changing reporting lines for staff. Changes have been made to the Footprints ticket system to accommodate the transition. We have hired a temporary employee to help with workload during this reorganization.


Portal Advisory Group

Description: The Portal Advisory Group is a cross functional group that is charged with guiding CIS in matters regarding the portal. It is chaired by Mark Ashley. The success of this group would indicate an improvement in the IT governance model of the College.

Goals: We would like to see the PAG publish a prioritized list of desired portal improvements. And CIS could then implement improvements in timely manner. We would also like to see the PAG begin to tackle questions about whether we stay with JICS portal or seek something else.

Status: 4/9/2014: PAG met and voted on projects. PAG will meet again this quarter to discuss the voting and advise on priority of projects.

2/26/2014: PAG did not meet in Fall, but substantial work was done by Mark Ashley (chair), Susan Selhorst and Gerald Reyes to map out the projects by rough order of magnitude (ROM) in preparation for ranking by the PAG. The PAG is scheduled to meet in February.

Make a transition from DTA to TA program

Description: Reorganize the User Support Group so that technical support is based on best available expertise rather than being based on which person is “assigned” to what department.

Goals: To achieve the goals related to this objective, we will need to rewrite DTA job descriptions. We then plan to complete transition from DTA program to TA program, with substantial teamwork evident in User Support Group.

Status: 2/26/2014: The job descriptions were rewritten in July 2013 and we began the transition to a more team oriented approach. The CIS staff in User Support have started to learn who is who among the faculty and staff, with a view to more friendly service. We now no longer have a DTA program. This project is now complete.

Relaunch Equipment Replacement Program

Description: The CIS equipment replacement program will supersede the previous faculty (“PCs for faculty”) and staff computer replacement programs.

Goals: Document new program and build support for it on Cabinet and among department chairs. Create budget to support new program. Define how updates will be tracked moving forward. If possible, provide self service option to users so that they can see what we have on record and when they are next eligible for an upgrade.

Status: 4/9/2014: Asset database has been reviewed and updated by USG for staff systems in order to determine the cost of including staff departments in the program for upcoming fiscal years. Reports for department budgets are being created from the database.

2/26/2014: Documentation for new program has been drafted, and budget outlined. Additional $40k in “catch-up” funds was approved by the Board in January to be transferred from year end surplus. Anticipate discussing terms of new program with DCC, FEC and Cabinet during Spring semester.

Asset system and database was developed by students in Summer 2013 to support the program. User Support and Admin Services are developing process for maintaining the database of equipment.

Educational Technology Discovery

Description: Increase level of experimentation/exploration through support of Shanahan Center.

Goals: Trial of whiteboards with report back to MT, TLC, CC regarding whether to purchase more. Report on use of document cameras by faculty. Initial exploration of a “digital posters” idea.

Status: 4/9/2014: The ETMS group conducted a well-attended workshop called “Beyond Chalk and Markers! An interactive workshop on alternatives to writing on the chalk and whiteboard.” We demonstrated using the document camera, iPad and Smartboard. ETMS is also working on a grant proposal to acquire several more Smartboards.

2/26/2014: Smartboard is installed in the SCTL and has been used by one faculty member in class. Demos were conducted in both the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. We do not yet have a sense whether there is demand for more. Document cameras are being used extensively in SCTL, but we do not yet have a report on how they are being used. We are continuing to seek interest from faculty on the Digital Posters idea. We have been working on a grant application to the Hearst Foundation.