March 2015

Michigan IT Newsletter from the Office of the CIO

This newsletter is sent to the Michigan IT community to provide updates, answer questions, and spark conversation about campus-wide efforts to improve IT services and invest in technologies that support U-M's current and future needs. Have questions, feedback, or news to share in an upcoming newsletter? Please let us know!

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In this Issue

Message from the CIO

Laura Patterson

As the Record mentioned a few weeks ago, the annual move to Daylight Saving Time is a handy way to remember to change your UMICH password, which everyone should do at least once a year. Changing passwords is a simple, effective practice that helps ensure the security of U-M's vast computing, technology, and data systems.

Last year's Heartbleed Bug demonstrated that no organization is immune to attack, no matter how vigilant and prepared it is. That is why Information and Infrastructure Assurance (IIA) plays such a critical role within our campus computing environment. IIA oversees the "big picture" of information technology security at U-M and works to proactively mitigate IT security risks across the entire university.

IIA cannot act alone; all students, faculty and staff need to take responsibility and ownership for protecting the university's assets. The organization also requires strong leadership, which is why I am pleased to announce that after a national search I have selected Dr. Donald Welch as U-M's new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

In addition to providing strategic leadership, Don will have operational responsibility for IT Security at the Health System and the Flint, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor campuses. A nationally-recognized leader in higher ed and cybersecurity, Don will provide the leadership to accrue security benefits from our shared IT infrastructure, enhance the university’s security posture, and strengthen the protection and privacy of our patients, faculty, researchers, students, staff, and greater community. Don assumes his new role April 1.

I want to thank Sol Bermann, who served as our interim CISO, for his leadership of the university's information security program over the past months. I also want to thank the members of the search advisory committee, listed below, for their involvement and valuable guidance.

Please join me in welcoming Don to U-M!


— Laura

Laura McCain Patterson
CIO and Associate Vice President, University of Michigan

Chief Information Security Officer Search Advisory Committee:

  • Ted Hanss, CIO, University of Michigan Medical School
  • Timothy Lynch, Vice President and General Counsel
  • Jeffrey Moelich, Executive Director of University Audits
  • Paul Robinson, Associate Vice Provost and University Registrar
  • Sue Schade, CIO, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers
  • Jeanne Strickland, UMHS Chief Compliance Officer, U-M HIPAA Officer
  • Vlad Wielbut, Information Technology Director, School of Public Health

Staff "Hackathon" Propels IT Innovation

IT staff regularly look for ways to innovate and resolve complex IT issues so faculty and staff can do their work more easily and effectively. At U-M, an annual "hackathon" brings together Michigan IT professionals to help do just that.

Hacks with Friends

Medical School Information Services (MSIS) started Hacks with Friends three years ago. This year's event, which took place March 5-6 at the North Campus Research Complex, grew to include Information and Technology Services (ITS), Medical Center Information Technology (MCIT), and the School of Dentistry.

Over 100 participants collaborated on 20 projects over three days—a day to pitch ideas and two days to "hack." Projects themed around gamification, collaboration, or play were built from scratch to working or near-completion. U-M CIO Laura Patterson, Medical School CIO Ted Hanss, and Hospitals and Health Centers CIO Sue Schade picked the winning entries.

Many teams recruited across organizations and combined skills that spanned the IT spectrum, including developers, web designers, data analysts, user experience experts, and business analysts. "Participating in the hackathon was a great experience," says Sarah Moir of ITS, part of the team that won second place for their app, Go Phish!. "Working alongside IT folks from MSIS helped me recognize that we face similar problems and can collaborate on shared solutions."

The goal of the event is to encourage IT efficiencies, productivity, and quality that can be applied to campus business processes and drive innovation. For example, one entry in particular caught Schade's notice: Activity in Motion is a multi-platform application to capture and centralize major IT incident activity in real-time. "The team's presentation helped me realize the current state of managing major incidents and how a simple app like this could improve the process," Schade said. "I asked the team to present to my leadership group and come back in a month with recommendations on how to fit their solution into our current major incident process. It's a great example of how a hackathon opened one leader's eyes to a problem that needed to be solved."

For more information, visit and read the article in Health IT Connect.

LSA IT Uses APIs to Streamline Recharge Process

After University Audits passed through the Department of Chemistry in LSA, they left a key action item: consolidate and improve the recharge process in use. Recharge, a charge for goods and services provided by one university unit to other university units, was collected by different shops within the department using seven different systems and processes.


Rather than build a new process from scratch, the Research Support North (RSN) team in LSA IT chose an existing process that would scale well for all of the shops. The solution they adapted had to validate ShortCodes, and be easy to use and maintain.

After reaching out to ITS to request system access to a table of valid ShortCodes, Bill LaCroix pointed them to the ShortCode API (Application Programming Interface) in U-M's API Directory. The API met the team's needs perfectly by providing easy, on-demand access to the data. As LSA IT Program Manager Dan St. Pierre put it, "This saved us a ton of time and lowered the complexity of the project."

Once integrated with an API, an application only needs to request the required data. By providing APIs, it can be easier to address the varied needs of departments across campus and complex custom solutions can often be avoided.

Thanks to the hard work of the LSA IT RSN team, notably Margarita "Rita" Barvinok, the consolidation of the recharge process is well underway with a far simpler solution. What used to involve a table structure manually updated with the valid ShortCodes in use now involves a lookup using the ShortCode API. The team is also using the MCommunity People API to populate key information about the people submitting recharge requests.

When this new solution is in place, the recharge process will be simpler, and the amount of manual input for everyone involved will be greatly reduced. Dan will present about the project at the April 1 Collaboration Forum. You can view the video online after the event.

Disaster Recovery Templates Now Available

Safe Computing - It's Good for You

Disaster recovery planning efforts help an organization recover quickly and keep operating with minimal disruption or downtime. ITS is using a template developed by Information and Infrastructure Assurance (IIA), which manages disaster planning for ITS, to develop disaster recovery plans for critical ITS systems.

Units can now take advantage of the same template to develop new or refine existing disaster recovery plans for their own systems. The Disaster Recovery planning template, available on the Safe Computing site, allows units to perform disaster recovery planning without assistance from IIA. Units that would like more guidance for their disaster recovery planning efforts can request the for-fee Disaster Recovery Business Continuity Planning service.

U-M Exploring Expansion of Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-Factor Authentication

ITS has begun working with other university units to explore how we can expand the use of multi-factor authentication at U-M. Multi-factor authentication is the use of more than one authentication method or proof of identity when logging in. Options include passwords, PINs, tokens, security questions, security images, and more.

Many U-M administrative systems already require two-factor authentication to better protect sensitive university data. Users must enter something they know—their UMICH password—along with something they have—the number displayed on their MToken. (MTokens, available as either a physical device or an app that can be installed on a smartphone, display a different number every 60 seconds.)

Examples of use cases for expansion of multi-factor authentication include:

  • Managing sensitive personal information in Wolverine Access (for example, direct deposit information)
  • Using IT administrative accounts
  • Accessing sensitive research systems (for example, the Flux high performance computing cluster requires an MToken for login)

Currently, ITS uses SecurID from RSA to provide MTokens. Other university units use other two-factor systems, such as Duo. ITS is working with other units to explore the possibility of a single solution for the entire university.

If you would like to provide input to the exploration of multi-factor authentication options for the university, please contact DePriest Dockins, assistant director of Identity and Access Management, ITS.

M+Box Celebrates Milestone


M+Box recently reached a huge milestone: 50,000 active accounts! What better way to celebrate than to give away some great prizes including Computer Showcase Gift Certificates and cool Box SWAG?

Interested? Use this form to describe a clever way you've used Box or how it's made it easier for you to get work done, whether by yourself or when collaborating with others. Each entry must describe one application of M+Box. If you use it in several different ways, submit a separate entry for each application or use case.

Eligibility: Current U-M students, faculty, and staff are eligible to participate, including temporary employees. (NOTE: Bargained-for staff may enter and receive Box SWAG, but are not eligible to receive gift certificates.)

Deadline for entry: Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Judging criteria:

  • resources (time, money, people) saved by the solution
  • creative use of M+Box
  • broad applicability
  • ease of use

The ITS Collaboration Services team and the Collaboration Services Advisory Group will judge entries and select three winners by Wednesday, April 29. Winners will be notified directly. Winning entries will also be posted on the M+Box site and in this newsletter.

Guiding Lights

Next time there is an emergency on campus, how will you know? Let digital signs light your way. Digital signs can display important emergency alerts and other targeted messages.

Digital Signage

ITS offers two types of digital signs—static displays and interactive touchscreens—that can change messages instantly to communicate with distinct audiences.

All ITS digital signs are configured to broadcast Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) emergency alerts to keep campus informed during events like tornado warnings, fires, and armed attacks. When such an alert is issued, information about the incident appears on the digital signs.

Expanding across the U-M community

Units across campus use digital signs to support communication efforts and to help people find their way with floor plans and directions. For example, the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC) recently installed interactive digital signs to promote events, research programs, and amenities throughout the complex. The interactive displays also show weather conditions, staff directories, and real-time Magic bus tracking with estimated times of arrival.

This map shows the locations of digital signs supported by the ITS Digital Signage Service. A Google+ community for U-M Digital Signage to share information and develop skills related to digital signs and software is also available. Visit the Digital Signage website to learn more. Schedule a consultation with the ITS Digital Signage team by emailing

Communities of Practice in Profile

Communities of Practice

In our previous issue we introduced the Communities of Practice (CoPs) pilot—groups of peers that share information, experience, and ideas around topics relevant to their work. Below are more details and best practices of several CoPs, which represent about a third of the pilot. Read on to learn about the unique ways they are facilitating meetings with their members.

User-Centered Design

User-Centered Design is committed to the inclusion of human needs in the design and implementation of campus services. Group facilitator Eileen Quintero said, "We encourage our members to host meetings in their work spaces and discuss relevant events, tools, and publications. By rotating leadership and having informal presentations we have fostered a sense of ownership."

Service Management

The Service Management CoP meets bi-monthly for discussion followed by "lean coffee" sessions in which topics are voted on and timed to ensure coverage. Topics range from technology and service providers to operational concerns of IT management. "We try very hard to foster discussion rather than presentation," said facilitator Andrea Stevens. "This might include report outs or someone willing to tell their story about the chosen topic."

Data Storage

The Data Storage CoP focuses on storage solutions and needs across campus. The group meets monthly to discuss topics like high-speed research storage and cloud storage services such as Box and Google Drive, often with two to three presenters. "Every fourth meeting is introspective," said Ali Berry, facilitator for the Data Storage CoP. "Members discuss which topics they would like to see, and what is or is not working."

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) CoP holds quarterly meetings with representatives from all three U-M campuses. The group covers a broad spectrum of instructional, research, and administrative uses of GIS. It intends to tour GIS-relevant facilities (e.g. U-M 3D Lab) and participate in annual, worldwide GIS Day events.


Got some good news to share or know someone who deserves a shout-out? Let us know!

U-M wins first prize in Connected Learning App Challenge


IMS Global Learning Consortium named U-M the first-place winner of the Second Annual IMS Connected Learning App Challenge. GradeCraft, developed with the support of U-M's Learning Analytics Task Force and the Office of Digital Education & Innovation, is a learning management system that encourages student engagement by supporting the "gameful classroom."

IMS selected the winning entries for their creativity, ease of integration enabled by the adoption of the Learning Tools Interoperability® specification, and potential for enabling connected learning in the classroom and online. Each winner will receive a $1,000 prize and will be recognized during the 2015 Learning Impact Leadership Institute, May 4-7, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Data Capture: U-M IT staff help police recover stolen computers

Bradley Sharp of LSA Instructional Support Services and ITS employee Alok Vimawala recently helped U-M police apprehend a suspect in an investigation of stolen electronics owned by LSA. Vimawala, assistant director for in-building network planning and installation, worked with Sharp to reconcile MAC addresses of the stolen computers with network activity. Since then, much of the stolen property has been recovered and a suspect has been taken into custody and is awaiting felony trial.

In a letter of gratitude, U-M Chief of Police Robert Neumann said, "Information [and] Technology Services has been a key partner in our mission to provide a safe and secure community. The assistance Vimawala provided is a great example of the value that partnership delivers."

Cathy Handyside named 2015 Research Administrator of the Year

Cathy Handyside

The U-M Office of Research (UMOR) named ITS eResearch Product Manager Cathy Handyside a 2015 Research Administrator of the Year. The Exceptional Service Award honors staff members in Office of Research units for important contributions to the university's research mission through exceptional performance and by going beyond the ordinary fulfillment of position duties. The vice president for research selects recipients based on the recommendation of the Service Awards Committee.

Handyside has been at U-M since 2000, starting at Michigan Administrative Information Services as a performance support analyst and consultant, senior business systems analyst, and senior IT project manager. She has been an IT program manager at ITS since October 2010. Read the Record article.

Meet this year's Hack Masters

Congratulations to the winners of the third annual Hacks with Friends event! Winning projects addressed the themes of gamification, collaboration, or play. Each team built a project from scratch to completion and presented it for final judging.

  • 1st Place: Magic Mirror
    • Bindu Dandamudi, Dave Perhne (ITS)
    • Kevin Coffman, Hong Da, Ryan Henyard (MSIS)
  • 2nd Place: Go Phish!
    • Sarah Moir (ITS)
    • Dan McClenaghan, Brett Miller (MSIS)
  • 3rd Place: RunDeck
    • Martin Sager (ITS)
    • Vasile Negrea, Arjun Srivatsa (MSIS)
  • 4th Place: World of WorkCraft
    • Willy Wangsa (Dentistry)
    • Dave Harlan (ITS)
    • Scott Boomhour, Steve Coffman, Greg Graziloi, Geoff Holden, Bryan Martyn, Bruce Meier, Leif Myklebust, Misty Periard, John Schultz, Ed Sucarski, Yuying Tian, Andy Vella, Amanda Wright (MSIS)
  • 5th Place: Test Automation
    • Glen Auerbach, Kranthi Bandaru, Rob Carleski, Xin Feng, James Ostrander, Michael Sheppard, Yonghee Stevens (ITS)
    • Pierre Clement (MSIS)

Changes to Blue Jeans Video Conferencing

Blue Jeans

In January 2015, the Blue Jeans video conferencing service at U-M was upgraded to include enhanced recording. Although recording services were available with the initial service, the upgrade to the enhanced recording service offers many new features and benefits, including:

  • Enhanced ability for meeting hosts to record (automatically or on-demand) Blue Jeans meetings, including the video, audio, and content that was shared.
  • Unlimited storage for meeting recordings is now available.
  • Store and access recordings online through your Blue Jeans account.
  • Watch meetings through your browser window and share them via links.

Another change that will affect the Blue Jeans service was announced in March. Blue Jeans notified ITS that changes in the upcoming version of the Google Chrome browser will disable plug-ins like those used by Blue Jeans. The exact date that this will occur is not certain, but it could be as soon as April 1, 2015.

Blue Jeans is developing an app that would allow connections to Blue Jeans using Google Chrome. The app is expected to be available soon. Watch for future announcements from ITS about the Blue Jeans app and its use at U-M. Until then, we recommend U-M Chrome users try a different browser (such as Safari, Internet Explorer, or Firefox) for Blue Jeans. Current versions of these browsers will continue to support the Blue Jeans plug-in.

Finally, a reminder that some types of sensitive university data may not be shared at all using Blue Jeans. For details, see the Sensitive Data Guide: Blue Jeans Video Conferencing. Blue Jeans should not be used for Protected Health Information (PHI). Check with the UMHS Compliance Office or Institutional Review Board (IRB) for data privacy concerns.

Collaborate @ UMICH

Collaborate @ UMICH

Forum News

U-M's Collaboration Forum is a public discussion group where you can ask questions, exchange information, and showcase interesting uses of collaboration tools including M+Google, M+Box, and CTools.

The next forum meeting takes place on Wednesday, April 1. View the meeting recordings archive.

The Collaboration Services Advisory Group provides guidance to ITS on the operational management of U-M's Google and Box services.

Update Summary



Project Update: MiWorkspace

MiWorkspace Monthly Project Updates Now Online


Keeping up with the activity and progress in the MiWorkspace Project just got a bit easier. The MiWorkspace project website was recently updated to include a monthly overview to highlight the implementation status for academic and research units, as well as a monthly summary that highlights milestones, issues, and stories from the project.

Visit MiWorkspace: The Project for an overview of the project timeline, approach, guiding principles, and key enhancements for academic units. Additional enhancements to the project website are coming soon. MiWorkspace is one of the primary projects underway at U-M to ensure the university's approach to IT supports the strategic direction of the institution's global mission.

Project Update: Campus WiFi

WiFi: Where You Are

The Campus WiFi Upgrade project continues to make significant progress upgrading public facing buildings across campus. In the past month upgrades were completed at the Michigan League and the Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building.

The upgrades at the Michigan League are significant because it is one of the busiest locations on campus and is heavily frequented by students. It also houses a hotel, offices, and meeting and event space for schools and units across the university. Scheduling construction in such a busy venue was challenging, but the results will be enjoyed and appreciated by a broad range of the U-M community.

The project team continues to work on upgrades at the Central Campus Recreational Building (CCRB), North Campus Recreational Building (NCRB), Bentley Library, Campus Safety Services Building, and Rackham. Watch for announcements of more completions coming soon. Visit the Campus WiFi Upgrade Project site for more information.

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