Michigan IT Newsletter: June 2015
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!
In this Issue
- Message from the CIO
- ARC: On the Front Line of Research at U-M
- U-M IT Enables Trust, Transparency for Cybersecurity Research
- Adobe Creative Cloud Now Available
- Service Spotlight
- Kudos & Campus News
- Training & Events
- Safe Computing
- Project Updates
- Shared Service Updates
- IT Governance
- IT Publications
Message from the CIO
U-M is one of the world's top universities because of its unmatched commitment to research and discovery. The stats are impressive:
- #1 ranked U.S. public research university by the National Science Foundation
- $1.3B in research expenditures
- 101 top 10-ranked graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report
Providing a robust, timely, and effective research ecosystem of technology and service is critical to maintaining U-M's diverse research activities. Our IT infrastructure must anticipate global trends and support researchers' needs at scale. We must enable the expansion of advanced research computing beyond the traditional disciplines, enhance multidisciplinary collaboration and discovery, and support communities that span the globe.
Members of the Michigan IT community continue to make significant contributions in these areas: whether by offering new high-performance computing, storage, and data management services; providing hands-on, local support to individual researchers; assisting with all phases of the research data lifecycle; or helping manage administrative needs with the eResearch service.
I am excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead of us, and I am confident the Michigan IT community will provide the infrastructure and services that enables U-M to excel as a leading research university in the world.
Laura McCain Patterson
CIO and Associate Vice President, University of Michigan
ARC: On the Front Line of Research at U-M
Since 2008, Advanced Research Computing (ARC) has provided high performance computing resources and services to support data-intensive and computational research at U-M. Over the years ARC has supported many programs and initiatives, and continues to offer an expanding set of services and tools.
Here are some of ARC's most recent additions:
Globus file transfer
U-M is now a Globus provider for the campus research community. Globus is a robust, cloud-based file transfer service designed to move many large files, from tens of GB to tens of TB, between servers. In addition to the standard features of Globus, U-M offers these provider features:
- Sharing of server directories/folders with non-UM Collaborators who are also Globus users. This is for transfer/copy purposes rather than shared use of server.
- Sharing of directories/folders from laptops/desktops via Globus Plus account upgrade.
Globus is now available for MiStorage/NFS users or subscribers as well. For information on setting up endpoints and linking to U-M provider features go to the ARC-TS Globus web page.
HPC consulting service
ARC now provides a consulting service to assist researchers with deploying and running codes on HPC clusters such as Flux. The service assists with adapting scientific codes to parallel environments, making efficient use of HPC resources, scaling up codes, locating current and emerging performance bottlenecks, identifying hot spots, and parallelizing performance-critical parts.
ARC's HPC consulting service provides short-term resolutions to code performance issues. If more sustained consultation is required, ARC will work with you on a support mechanism to facilitate a dedicated effort by our consulting team. Contact Alexander Gaenko to set up an appointment.
To learn about ARC's latest news and events, subscribe to their email newsletter.
U-M IT Enables Trust, Transparency for Cybersecurity Research
Imagine you are inspecting a neighbor's front door lock. As a security expert, you can help identify flaws to prevent unauthorized entry. Suddenly, your neighbor arrives home to find you on his porch. Will he be suspicious of your motives?
Likewise with cybersecurity. "Security research can attract negative attention," said Don Winsor, information systems operations manager at U-M Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). "Organizations on the Internet sometimes respond, 'Why are you probing my network?'"
U-M Assistant Professor J. Alex Halderman knows these issues well. He leads a research group seeking to understand the security of computers and devices that make up the Internet. A software tool they developed called ZMap performs Internet-wide scans, which can raise suspicion in network administrators who notice the activity.
But Halderman found help in the Michigan IT community: "We've drawn on the collective experience of university IT staff to conduct scans while still being good Internet citizens."
Working with Halderman's research team, IT staff at EECS collaborated with the UMnet team at ITS Communications Systems and Data Centers to allocate special subnets for the network scans. In addition, they set up reverse DNS records and other public indicators to signal that the probes are part of defensive measurement research, not malicious attacks.
IT staff also established a protocol to forward inquiries directly to the research team for an appropriate response. "After we explain what we're doing and why, people are often happy to allow us to continue scanning," said Halderman. "If they're not, we make sure their networks don't get scanned again."
The resulting data has helped revolutionize the way researchers study Internet security. It has been used to measure the impact of major vulnerabilities like the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug, and to help Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers improve the security of HTTPS encryption.
"None of this research would be possible without the exceptional IT staff at the University of Michigan," said Halderman. "Internet-wide scanning requires a very fast and robust network, and U-M has one of the best at any academic institution."
Adobe Creative Cloud Available from ITS
Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)—a suite of popular desktop applications and other services from Adobe—is now available to purchase for university use through ITS Software Licensing and Distribution.
Choose the best option for your unit
U-M units may choose to purchase a User Subscription tied to a single, named individual, or a Device Subscription for use on specific, institutionally owned computers such as in classrooms or labs. Both User and Device Subscriptions are available for a single product, such as Photoshop, or for the complete suite of applications used for graphic design, video editing, web development, and photography. Adobe Acrobat DC, the latest PDF management tool, can also be purchased separately.
Access the latest Adobe software
There is no better time to upgrade: The 2015 version of Adobe Creative Cloud was released June 16, bringing updates to CC desktop tools, mobile apps, and services that are immediately available to Creative Cloud members. Learn more about the 2015 release on the Adobe Creative Cloud blog.
For more information, please contact ITS Software Licensing and Distribution.
This occasional column profiles campus units or teams and the services they provide. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest a group to be profiled.
Phill Cameron, Language Resource Center, LSA
What services does the Language Resource Center (LRC) provide?
The LRC provides instructional support to faculty and students in foreign language literature and culture departments. This includes creating and acquiring foreign language materials, pedagogical design, and technical assistance with instructional technology initiatives. We are also a physical center in North Quad; we house a foreign language media collection as well as computer and media classrooms. We also serve as an information conduit among the instructors of foreign language, literature and culture departments.
Who can take advantage of your services?
The LRC serves all university individuals who utilize foreign languages in their studies, teaching, or research. There are, however, certain borrowing and usage policies for some material. While our core constituents are foreign language faculty and students, if there is a foreign language or culture component to the course or project, or if language is an active part of the course, then we are happy to help. As one example, the Ojibwe courses are in the American Culture program, but their purpose is to teach the Ojibwe language, so we have worked with Ojibwe instructors to record native speaker storytelling, as well as audio files for comprehension and pronunciation practice.
What is the best way to reach your group for services?
email@example.com. That email address goes to our staff, and someone will respond to you within 24 hours.
Can you tell us about a recent project that you worked on that you are particularly proud of or one that you feel has a big impact in the Michigan community?
A project I worked on during winter term that I think may have a big impact on the university is a hybridized course at the English Language Institute (ELI). The course served two purposes. First, it was a pilot course in the new Learning Management System (LMS), "Canvas." Second, the course moved to a blended course model. This hybridization gave LRC staff and the ELI instructor, Tarey Reilly, the space to discuss the current pedagogies of the course, and how to adapt, refine, or replace them, given the new blended instructional context of much of the course material. I think this reimagining and reexamination of the course, through two different lenses at once, will bring interesting and useful new perspectives to both the Canvas LMS and to ELI courses.
What are some interesting uses for your service, or what are people in your area doing that you'd like to highlight?
The LRC is consulting on a German Videogame cultural simulation with Mary Rodena-Krasan, of Germanic Languages and Literatures. The goals of the game are increasing student motivation, interaction, and engagement, through authentic video game play. Myself and another avid gamer on staff are delighted to be able to infuse our passion for games into teaching methods and learning outcomes. It is particularly noteworthy to mention that the game is largely being created by a team of students.
We also support the faculty with their grant writing processes—the German Videogame project has been twice funded with LSA Instructional Technology grants. Additionally, we are always happy to record new material. The LRC has an audio/video studio and collaborates with Screen Arts and Cultures to record interviews with visiting scholars and visiting filmmakers. We also shoot promotional videos for departments, and record panel discussions and instructor talks.
Who else is a part of your team?
Julie Evershed, director of the Language Resource Center; Philomena Meechan, instructional design lead; John Beals, Rob Demilner, and Jonathan Jones, instructional design seniors. I am an instructional learning intermediate. Laura Brubacher, information specialist and main center manager, coordinates and trains our student worker staff. Cyndy Kayden is our accounting clerk senior. We also have approximately 11 student workers and two graduate student interns per term.
Are there other units on campus that you regularly partner with or build relationships with?
Obviously, we like to work closely with the foreign language departments on their instructional projects! Additionally, we have close working relationships with LSA Instructional Support Services, the U-M Library, and other instructional support in the Teaching With Technology Consortium. We share studio spaces with Screen Arts and Cultures, and we work closely with the Computer and Video Game Archive.
Does your team have tips for other Michigan IT groups to make their partnerships/relationships more successful?
For me, the best tip I have is: take the initiative to follow up. To paraphrase Al Capone: "Follow up early, follow up often." Sometimes something will get dropped or forgotten, and if that happens there is goodness in being the person who picks up whatever got dropped.
What is one thing you get to do regularly in your work in this group that makes your job rewarding?
Working with faculty and students makes my job rewarding, and projects like the German Videogame allow me to regularly interact with talented future innovators as well as current amazing, energetic faculty.
Kudos & Campus News
Got some news to share or know someone who deserves a shout-out? Let us know!
IT Leadership Program Graduates First Cohort
The first cohort of university IT leaders graduated from the Michigan IT Leadership Program on June 3. The nine-month program, sponsored by U-M CIO Laura Patterson, was designed to strengthen the strategic planning skills of IT leaders, and develop and nurture the working relationships among IT staff across the university. "This program has helped provide an opportunity to start conversations with individuals in different roles across Michigan IT," said recent graduate IT Program Manager Dan St. Pierre of LSA IT. "It serves as the foundation to build on new relationships and provides an opportunity to make existing relationships even stronger."
President's Staff Innovation Awards
Members of the Michigan IT community were well-represented in the winners circle of the 2015 President's Staff Innovation Awards. Congratulations to:
- Melissa Cox and Regis Vogel from University Development who were members of the U-M Crowdfunding Taskforce that won the Team Award for Giving Blueday.
- Individual Award finalists Alex Fichter from ITS, Renju Jacob from LSI, and Jeffrey Micale from Housing.
Med School Free Clinic Wins Tech Grant
The Medical School's Student-Run Free Clinic received a $30,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to bring technology-based patient education to the clinic. Representatives from Verizon and Medical School leadership (including Dean Woolliscroft, pictured here with a student) visited the clinic on June 24 to see the new program in action. Read the whole story in UMHS Headlines.
PIC A Winner
ITS recently completed its pilot of a new Process Improvement Challenge (PIC), which invited staff to come up with innovative ways to increase cross-departmental workflow efficiencies. "PIC was an incredible success," says Sally Luoma, who helped organize the event. "We received 28 submissions from 82 staff members, which far exceeded our expectations." Congratulations to the ITS Content Management team (Angel Fletcher, Chris Gardner, Amanda Grabowski, Kristen Jackson, Melinda Kraft, Tim Niles, Rachel Parker), which won for its creation of a new employee onboarding site. (BONUS: Their Google site template is available to copy and re-use!)
Tech Research In the Academic Community
Understanding the experiences and expectations of students and faculty can help optimize the impact of IT. Every year the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) conducts an international survey of how students and faculty use information technology in higher education. The survey includes responses from 75,306 undergraduate students from over 213 institutions and 17,451 faculty members from 151 institutions. (U-M is among the institutions surveyed.) View the complete report on the Educause website.
Training & Events
Contact us to get your event listed.
Unizin, Canvas, and Learning Analytics at Michigan
The U-M Analytics and Business Intelligence Community will hold its Summer 2015 BI/Analytics Event on Tuesday, July 14, 10 a.m.–noon at Palmer Commons Auditorium. Sean DeMonner (ITS) and Steve Lonn (Office of Digital Education & Innovation) will present on Unizin, Canvas and Learning Analytics at Michigan. This event is open to the entire U-M community.
IT4U49: Canvas at U-M
U-M is transitioning to Canvas, a cloud-based learning management system. Dave Nassar (ITS) shows what the buzz is all about, including streamlined workflows and powerful tools like Speedgrader. Level: Introductory. Thursday, July 16, 9–9:45 a.m. Register in My LINC.
IT Community Training
"Introduction to Graphite," presentation by Brock Palen (Advanced Research Computing). Friday, July 17, 10–11:30 a.m., room 2001 LSA. Note that presentations start a minute or two after 10 a.m., not on "Michigan time." (See a list of past and upcoming trainings.) Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in presenting or have a topic suggestion. Join the MCommunity group if you would like to participate in planning or improving future trainings.
IT Service Mini-Symposium
The IT Service Management Community of Practice (CoP) is hosting an IT Service Mini-Symposium on Monday, July 27, 9 a.m.–noon at the Arbor Lakes North and South Dome conference rooms. This free event is modeled after the Michigan IT Symposium and is open to everyone in the Michigan IT community. There are two tracks: one for service management and another for showcasing services. A full agenda will be available on the CoP website the week of July 6. Fill out the Michigan IT Service Mini-Symposium form if you are interested in submitting a poster, holding a workshop, or volunteering to help.
The subject of this month's Collaboration Forum meeting, "Declutter your GMail," will be a presentation/training with general tips on handling email stress as well as specific tips and tricks. Bring your laptop for hands-on help. (Read the agenda.) Wednesday, July 29, 1–3 p.m. in the Arbor Lakes North Dome conference room. View previous meetings.
U-M Google Apps Developers
The group will hold a meeting in July—date, time, and location are yet to be determined. Join their G+ Community or MCommunity group to get notifications about upcoming meetings and to participate in group discussion.
Box Basics Drop-In Series
This series of free, live online courses focuses on how to manage content and work with colleagues using Box, as well as tips for streamlining day-to-day work. These are introductory level courses, though experienced users might also pick up a few new tricks. Multiple sessions run through the end of August. Read Box Basics Drop-In Series for details.
Upgrade Windows Server 2003 Before July 2015
After July 14, 2015, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003. See Microsoft: Migration is worth it! for information from Microsoft.
If machines or services you are responsible for still use Windows Server 2003, please upgrade before July. You can order Windows Server products for U-M through the university's Microsoft Campus Agreement. If your server is used to access or maintain U-M sensitive institutional data, be sure to follow the instructions in Windows Server Hardening Guide: Minimum Expectations for a Secure Server at U-M.
Depending on your needs, you might consider using the MiServer virtual server environment managed by ITS instead of running your own Windows Server. ITS IIA asks that you not connect devices running out-of-date, unsupported software to U-M networks or systems.
Working on a project you'd like share with the Michigan IT community? Let us know!
During the month of June, three new academic units joined the MiWorkspace service: the School of Information; the School of Natural Resources and Environment; and the College of Pharmacy. Faculty and staff in all three units are currently migrating their computers to the service. The Ford School of Public Policy begins migrations in July. View the MiWorkspace project website and academic unit implementation status for additional details.
At the end of August 2015 SiteMaker sites will become read-only and the ability to make site edits will end. Over the next two months, the SiteMaker Transition team will send additional reminders directly to SiteMaker admins and active site owners. View the project roadmap for more information.
The last of the Public Facing project buildings, Hill Auditorium, was completed in June. The Campuswide project is kicking off with site surveys beginning at the Duderstadt Center; Angell, Mason, Haven, and Tisch Halls; and Bursley Hall. The project team is identifying classrooms across campus that can be upgraded before the fall semester begins in September. For a complete list of the facilities included in these projects visit the WiFi Upgrade project website.
Shared Service Updates
If your unit or group provides a shared service to campus, this space is available for short news items and updates to the Michigan IT community. Send us your information.
CrashPlan (Desktop Backup)
Beginning July 1, ITS's CrashPlan (Desktop Backup) service will be available to everyone on campus, not just MiWorkspace and legacy customers. New units can enroll via the web-based order form by selecting "MY UNIT IS NOT LISTED..." from the Unit Name dropdown. The low monthly rate of $3.00/user account remains the same. Visit the Desktop Backup Service website for details about other changes and enhancements.
Flux, Flux Hadoop, and their storage systems (/home, /home2, /scratch, and HDFS) will be unavailable starting at 7 a.m. Friday, July 31, returning to service on Friday, August 7. Read the full update.
- REMINDER: Box Sync 3 EOL - Upgrade to Sync 4 Required
- M+Box Monthly Digest
- Manual Upgrade for Box Edit Version 3
- Box Sync 3 EOL - Upgrade to Sync 4 Required
- See all updates
- Changes to enrollment form: Allows customers to sign up only for the Enterprise Agreement.
- U-M and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have recently reached an agreement waiving egress data transfer charges for eligible accounts. Ineligible accounts are those whose primary purpose includes Website hosting, media streaming, or massive open online courses (MOOCs). Eligible accounts already associated with Consolidated Billing will be added automatically to the Egress Waiver and require no further action. Contact the ITS Service Center for more information. (Please include your AWS 12-digit account number.)
ITS is working on a new look for the MCommunity Directory that will make it easier to use on your smartphone and other mobile devices. The MCommunity Directory Beta Version lets you search for people and view directory entries. In the coming months, ITS will incorporate additional features and enhancements.
- UPDATE! Store and Organize Google+ Photos in Drive
- New Drive UI Becomes Permanent
- More Options in Sheets
- UPDATE: Migrate all Scripts away from OAuth Configuration
- See all updates
MiDatabase has recently added Oracle to its existing database platforms of Microsoft SQL and MYSQL. All platforms can be ordered in a shared or dedicated environment to meet your support needs. Visit the MiDatabase page on the Michigan IT Services Portal for more information.
- NEW Oracle database option: Oracle quick start guide, updated FAQ, documentation changes
- MS SQL update: Allows MS SQL customers to select which version of SQL Server they want installed
- End Service Functionality added: Allows customers to end (delete) their servers
- Updated CPU Values: Extends the dropdown list to to include 12-16 CPUs
The NEW MiStorage service from ITS replaces Mainstream Storage and Value Storage. MiStorage provides a scalable, easy-to-use solution for unstructured data such as documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. It should not be used for streaming media, databases, or mail data. MiStorage offers:
- two tiers of disk performance: Silver and Gold
- two protocols: NFSv3 (not approved for sensitive data) and CIFS (approved for sensitive data)
- optional data snapshots and replication
Upgrades to ServiceLink are required by the vendor every six months. Fuji, the latest upgrade, will impact all ServiceLink users and will be released according to the following schedule:
- Tuesday, June 30: Limited release minus the new UI, very little change to the user experience expected
- Week of July 13: UI focus groups
- Thursday, July 30: Activate the new Fuji UI
Join the ServiceLink G+ Community for additional updates and details.
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