Michigan IT Newsletter: April 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

This month, I had the opportunity to sit down with 63 IT leaders from 25 units across the university to discuss key challenges for the Michigan IT community. We covered a wide range of topics—from how to better support faculty technology innovations and enable them to be used more broadly, to how to accelerate agreement and decision-making, to where IT can provide more value—and I was floored by the enthusiasm, the collaboration, and the constructive conversations and suggestions that filled the room.

Our discussion was part of a new Michigan IT Leadership program, which I've established with assistance from the Michigan IT steering group to strengthen the skills of IT leaders and to develop and nurture the working relationships among IT staff across the university. While the program has just begun, I'm already seeing a shift in how we are working together to deliver IT services and identify solutions for faculty and staff needs.

Our progress on MiWorkspace and the IT Service Provider Toolkit, for example, demonstrate how we are working together to provide a seamless user experience, and Pharmacy and LSA recently established a new partnership to provide IT support. In some cases, ITS has transferred services to units that are better positioned to manage, maintain, and deliver them to campus. Together, we can achieve the concepts outlined in U-M's IT Strategic Plan, which itself is the result of a broad, collaborative endeavor that involved members of every section of our diverse community.

— Laura

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

IT Service Provider Toolkit Now Available

IT Service Provider Toolkit

At the beginning of this year, the School of Education was a recent MiWorkspace subscriber with eight unique IT services to manage. They needed a shared tracking tool to easily pass tickets back and forth with ITS, but ServiceLink, the service management platform used by ITS, didn't quite meet their needs.

Since then, ITS has released the IT Service Provider Toolkit (ITSPTK), a package of tools, training, and resources that helps units manage and deliver IT services at U-M. Currently available is the ITSPTK Base Package, which offers a straight-forward IT ticketing solution through ServiceLink that enables the collaboration of IT service providers across campus.

The School of Education was one of the first to try it out and the results have been positive. School of Education IT Manager Joe Gorde says, "Being able to customize the Business Service fields and assignment groups specifically for our unit has brought a lot of value to assigning and tracking our work."

Features of the Base Package include the ability for unit IT professionals to

  • Enter and add information about unit services
  • Set and respond to unit-specific service level targets, such as ticket resolution time
  • Create unit-specific knowledge records to support resolution of those tickets

Smooth handoffs of information and support activities between ITS and unit IT staff require the use of shared support tools to more quickly resolve IT issues for faculty, staff, and students. ITS worked with campus users of ServiceLink to develop the toolkit Base Package to better meet the needs of unit IT staff. The toolkit also encourages the growth and use of common technologies and methods across U-M in support of the Michigan IT community.

While Gorde notes the complete benefits of the toolkit won't be realized until more units are using it, "we are already seeing wins in terms of knowledge sharing and the ability to route tickets appropriately. This will especially come in handy when supporting faculty with dual appointments or collaborative projects that span multiple units."

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens also piloted the ITSPTK Base Package in March, and the School of Social Work began using it through its MiWorkspace adoption earlier this month. In May, LSA IT will move to the Base Package as will the School of Music Theatre & Dance, which will begin using it as part of its move to MiWorkspace.

The ITSPTK Base Package is currently available to units adopting the MiWorkspace service in 2015. ITS will coordinate with current MiWorkspace units using ServiceLink to identify the best time to switch to the Base Package offering. Find more information on the IT Services Portal: IT Service Provider Toolkit or contact the ITS Service Center.

Shared Services: LSA & ISR Step Up

Shared Services

The key concept behind shared services is to have one part of an organization provide a service that, in the past, multiple parts of the organization provided. Thus, the funding and resourcing of the service is shared, redundancy is reduced, and the providing department effectively becomes an internal service provider. In other words: Find out who is best equipped to do the job and let them do it.

That's why in the past six months, LSA and ISR (the Institute for Social Research) have taken over responsibility for two ITS services: SharePoint and Computer Power and Patch Management (CPPM), respectively.

LSA & SharePoint

Business & Finance (B&F) SharePoint sites hosted by ITS had been using outdated versions of the software with no plans to upgrade. In addition, support for the aging infrastructure hosting the B&F SharePoint environment would terminate at the end of 2014.

LSA IT offered to host the B&F SharePoint sites on their servers and ITS agreed. "LSA IT offers regular SharePoint upgrades and support to the rest of the U-M community, so it was well-positioned for this transition," says Sean DeMonner, executive director of ITS Teaching and Learning. "Plus, our B&F site owners would enjoy the benefits of a more stable and robust hosting environment."

In October of last year, a joint LSA IT/ITS project team successfully transferred 721 sites with a total of 247 GB of data from the ITS SharePoint environment to LSA servers. "ITS and LSA IT worked together closely to test the migration process and ensure that the move went smoothly," says David Sweetman, director of LSA IT. "It's a great example of how collaboration across the Michigan IT community can both improve the user experience and increase operating efficiencies."


The move to MiWorkspace is greatly reducing the need for a campus-wide CPPM service. As more units transition to MiWorkspace, the number requiring CPPM will go down even further—but not be eliminated entirely. ITS reached out to ISR in 2014 to help find a solution to this dilemma.

"ISR had the largest number of client machines supported by the ITS CPPM service," says MaryBeth Stuenkel, a manager for ITS Infrastructure Services & Operations. "CPPM proved to be a great solution for ISR and they intended to run it for themselves once ITS retired it. They generously agreed to provide the service to other units that would need it."

At the end of March, ISR took over the management and operation of CPPM for 12 academic and two business units on the Ann Arbor campus. As part of the ongoing collaboration between the groups, ITS continues to handle CPPM administrative tasks such as license renewal and chargeback services. "We're very pleased that ISR is able to contribute to the development of the shared services model at U-M," says Bill Connett, Institute for Social Research CIO.

Michigan IT Enables Robotics Research at EECS


What can cockroaches contribute to robotics? As it turns out, quite a lot.

High-tech research led by U-M Professor Shai Revzen and supported by Michigan IT has increased understanding of roach body mechanics and how biological systems stabilize, a key concept in designing steady robots.

The research could help build simpler, more agile robots that rely on predictable mechanics rather than complex electronics. In the medical field, it could also lead to safer and more reliable prosthetics.

Professor Revzen is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, as well as ecology and evolutionary biology. To gather data, Revzen developed a technique called Data Driven Floquet Analysis which uses a high-speed camera to measure the insects' leg and body locomotion.

"These experiments were challenging to support," said Don Winsor, departmental computing organization coordinator for Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). "The high data rates from the cameras and the need to rapidly reconfigure for different kinds of experiments would not have been possible with standard infrastructure."

EECS IT staff worked with ITS to design and install the network infrastructure in Revzen's laboratory, known as "BIRDS lab" (Biologically Inspired Robotics & Dynamical Systems). According to Winsor, the research lab was outfitted with "a switch, a file server, and a generous installation of flexible data wiring."

Workstations were also configured to make it easy for students to use the lab for single semesters without extra administrative effort. "The technical enhancements made at BIRDS lab will benefit many research projects to come," said Professor Revzen.

Communities of Practice in Profile

Communities of Practice

In January we introduced the Communities of Practice (CoPs) pilot—groups of peers that share information, experience, and ideas around topics relevant to their work. In our last issue, several CoP groups were detailed. Read on to learn about other CoPs in the pilot.

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) aims to develop a vision and strategic approach to constituent data management and to invest in CRM products that align with that strategy.

According to co-facilitator Haley Gire, the Michigan CRM community has grown quickly in the last few years. "Our CoP has allowed us to brainstorm, learn, dream, and explore the possibilities of a 360-degree view of students from the time they learn about U-M, until they are an alum, and beyond."

The group is also exploring the possibility of an enterprise CRM system for campus. "To see departments and schools from all areas of the university supporting a single system is exciting and motivating," said Gire. "Without the CRM community, work would happen piecemeal."

Customer Advocacy

The Customer Advocacy CoP meets in-person five times a year to discuss how to help customers—i.e., faculty, staff, and students—navigate the U-M IT ecosystem, guide them to services that exist, and advocate for them when services do not exist. IT customers need and want guidance so they don't have to keep up with new and deprecated services or changing organizational structures.

"One of our goals is to build collaboration among the IT groups on campus," said facilitator Erin Dietrich. "Our meetings start with an activity that enables members to build relationships with one another."

The most valuable aspect of the CoP? Dietrich says it's the connections among peers: "We recently learned about best practices of the Service Desks within LSA, ITS, MSIS, and MCIT. There is a lot of excitement around MSIS techniques and we plan to leverage their experience."

Data Management

The Data Management CoP focuses on the functional and technical requirements for data, and how data and information are managed across the organization. Members meet monthly in various locations—ASB, Arbor Lakes, and NCRC—and use BlueJeans to join remotely. The group has been growing according to Kris Steinhoff, one of the group's two facilitators. "One way we have expanded is to invite new members to meetings that cover topics we know those individuals will be interested in." said Steinhoff.

Kudos & Campus News

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

Stephen McClatchey

Pharmacy and LSA collaborate on IT support

Effective April 1, Stephen McClatchey began a joint role heading up unit IT support for both the College of Pharmacy and LSA departments located in Randall and West Hall.

With the nearby College of Pharmacy moving to MiWorkspace and evolving its overall IT strategy, and a vacancy on the LSA IT leadership team, the opportunity arose for a new partnership between the two units. David Sweetman, director of IT for LSA, noted, "As a Michigan IT community, we often discuss the need and value in increased collaboration across the community. I'm excited for the possibilities this arrangement holds as one way for helping us increase that community and collaboration."

Sweet Success


Members of the ITS Teaching & Learning team used CTools Lesson Builder to help create a series of instructional modules that were integral to the delivery of course material for one of the winners of this year's Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize (TIP). Burgunda Sweet, clinical professor of pharmacy, and her colleagues won for their two-credit course "Team-Based Clinical Decision Making."

The course—designed for students in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work—focuses on developing two core competencies for interprofessional education: understanding professional roles and developing teamwork skills. "CTools remains very relevant in support of innovative instruction," says John Johnston, product manager for ITS Teaching & Learning. "We're pleased that ITS was able to contribute to the success of Professor Sweet and her team."

IT Leadership Program

This month, 63 members of the IT community participated in a session with U-M Chief Information Officer Laura Patterson to discuss and provide input around key challenges for the Michigan IT community. The discussion was part of the Michigan IT Leadership program, which was established to strengthen the skills of IT leaders so that we have better alignment between IT efforts and the university's strategic priorities.

The IT Leadership Program kicked off in fall 2014, with 30 IT directors and leaders of 21 units taking part in the first cohort. Cohort two began in February 2015, with 33 IT leaders from 14 units. Planning for the third cohort is currently underway.

This program is one of several ways that the CIO, with assistance from the Michigan IT Steering Group, is encouraging and supporting IT staff members' engagement in the community and development of their careers. For additional information, visit the Office of the CIO website.

Safe Computing: 4 Tips for Traveling with Tech

Safe Computing - It's Good for You

Pickpockets, sunburn, and stomach viruses can ruin a trip. But they're not the only things you need to protect against when traveling. Whether you're planning a vacation overseas, a research expedition, or just a local getaway this summer, you will likely take along a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Here are four tips to help you safeguard both your own— and the university's—data.

  1. Require a password, passcode, or PIN for access to your device, and set the screen to lock after 15 or fewer minutes of inactivity.

  2. Turn on the app or feature that helps you find your device and/or erase its contents if it is lost or stolen.

  3. Use a secure Internet connection, such as your phone's cellular network, and turn off optional network connections (WiFi, Bluetooth) when you are not using them.

  4. If you work with sensitive U-M data, follow these Instructions for Securing Your Devices and Data and ensure that the data is encrypted before traveling with the devices.

For instructions, a short video, and additional resources, check out Safe Computing: Traveling with Technology.

Project Updates

New Look, New Info for MiWorkspace Project Site

MiWorkspace website

Wondering what the MiWorkspace project is up to these days? Check out the MiWorkspace project site! In addition to a new and look feel, the site now offers more details on the project's activity, from a monthly project report to a list of academic units currently working with ITS.

More content is coming to the site soon, including updated information for IT professionals, unit leaders, and faculty. In the meantime, don't miss the following resources:

MiWorkspace is one of the primary projects underway to ensure the university's approach to IT supports the strategic direction of the institution's global mission. By taking care of common IT services such as network connectivity and desktop support, MiWorkspace allows schools, colleges, and units to focus on developing the capabilities and innovations that will advance their unique mission.

Have questions about the project or feedback on the site? Send a message to contact.nextgen@umich.edu.

Campus WiFi

WiFi: Where You Are

In the past month WiFi upgrades were completed at Rackham Graduate School, North Campus Recreation Building, Central Campus Recreation Building, and the Bentley Library. Watch for upgrade announcements soon for the Campus Safety Service Building.


The need for mobile connectivity is growing exponentially at U-M and WiFi has quickly moved from being a want, to a need. Check out this infographic for details. Services are also expanding as several carriers announced that they will offer voice over WiFi this year. U-M has made, and will continue to make, investments in this growing technology as part of the Campus WiFi Upgrade project.

Service Updates


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.

If you weren't able to attend the April 1 meeting, be sure to check out the recordings of the presentations:

The next forum meeting takes place on Wednesday, May 27, 1–3 p.m. 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.

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