Michigan IT Newsletter: December 2015/January 2016

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 or feedback about the newsletter? Please let us know! Or use our submission form to send us content and story ideas.

In this Issue

Message from the CIO

Four years ago, the U-M launched an IT Strategy called NextGen Michigan. That plan said we should consolidate services where it made sense, invest in technologies that advance the mission of the university, and develop a community of the workforce of U-M's 2,400+ IT professionals. These three goals drove IT-related strategic decision making, and I'm happy to report that we have accomplished much of what we set out to achieve.

While our efforts in the areas of service consolidation and mission-focused technology investment are impressive, I am personally most proud of the great strides we have made to create a vibrant community of Michigan IT professionals:

  • 150 IT professionals from every unit on campus (including the Medical Campus) have completed leadership development and now have a common toolkit and language.
  • We are implementing a single tool for ticket submission and tracking.
  • We have more than 20 active communities of practice for sharing development and best practices.
  • We hold an annual IT Symposium for professional development and sharing, which brought together more than 1,000 staff (450 in person and 600+ online) in 2015.
  • We will be hosting our first Michigan IT-wide hackathon for generating new apps and ideas this March.

As we near the completion of NextGen Michigan with the final phases of the MiWorkspace roll-out, I have been working closely with our university governance groups to finalize a new IT strategic plan for the next 3-5 years. That plan will push NextGen Michigan to the next level by

  • continuing to drive consolidation, community, and scale;
  • building on the strengths that the university has in interdisciplinary research, learning analytics, and healthcare; and
  • unifying the technologies of the medical campus and the academic campus.

By building on the momentum of our past successes and the strength of our IT staff, the university has the opportunity to position itself as the country's premier institution for technology-enabled research and engaged, digitally enhanced learning. Please take a few minutes to read through the draft plan. I look forward to working closely with the Michigan IT community as we embark on the next leg of this journey together. Here's to a happy, healthy, and productive 2016!

— Laura

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

Home For the Holidays? Read This First!

by Josh Simon, Systems Administrator Senior, LSA

As winter break approaches, most of us are busy with holiday plans and eager to finish up our work so we can relax with family and friends. Before you set up your away message and head out the door, make sure to review the following important information.

Energy Reduction

Help U-M conserve energy and save money over the break:

  • Close all windows. This not only helps save energy but also prevents water pipes and sprinkler heads from freezing and bursting.
  • Set the thermostat to 68°F where possible. This helps the building to operate efficiently and conserves energy.
  • Turn off all unused office equipment. This includes computers, monitors, printers and multifunction devices, fans, coffee pots, and task lighting. Also unplug chargers for cell phones, PDAs, and other devices.
  • Turn off space heaters. They can actually cover up potentially larger issues with building mechanical systems.

Don't forget! When you come back from the holiday break, double check to make sure all your equipment is plugged in and turned on before reporting any problems.

Building Access

Many buildings will be locked during the break and only accessible if your Mcard has "24/8" permissions (that is, 24/7 plus holidays). All residence halls must be vacated by 7 p.m. on December 23 and will reopen at noon on January 3. Most fan systems in classroom and office buildings will be turned off late Thursday evening, December 24, and return to normal operation early in the morning on Monday, January 4. Contact your unit's facilities personnel if you will need air handling or building access during the holiday break.


  • ITS Service Center. Closes at 3 p.m. Thursday, December 24, and reopens at 7 a.m. Monday, January 4. See ITS Service Status and System Availability for additional information.
  • Campus Computing Sites. Most sites will close early on December 24 and remain closed through January 1. The Michigan Union Basement Computing Site will remain open during building hours. For details refer to the Campus Computing Sites Hours web page.
  • Communication Systems and Data Centers. The CSDC will be closed from 4:30 p.m. Thursday, December 24, until 8 a.m. Monday, January 4, with limited staff on December 24. On this day send requests via email. Voicemails left at 3-2000 will be returned up until closing.
  • Information and Infrastructure Assurance. Report actual or suspected IT security incidents by sending email to security@umich.edu. IIA staff will respond as soon as possible over the break. For more information, see Report an IT Security Incident.


We need your help to maintain a safe and secure campus. Before you leave for the break:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors.
  • Secure valuables and lock desks and closets.

If you are working over the break and need assistance, call:

  • 911 to report crimes and emergencies to university police
  • 734-763-1131, the U-M Division of Public Safety and Security, for non-emergency issues
  • 734-647-2059, the Plant Operations Call Center, for maintenance requests, including custodial service, groundskeeping, and parking maintenance.

Michigan IT Symposium Recap

by Glen Sard, MSIS Communications and Stefanie Horvath, ITS Communications

Photos by Chris Gardner, Joel Iverson, and Michael Wojan, ITS

Symposium Fosters Connections, Showcases Innovation

More than 450 IT professionals, administrators, and other community members gathered to create connections and showcase innovation occurring across all U-M campuses by participating in the second annual Michigan IT Symposium, held at the Michigan Union on November 23 and 24.

During the event, representatives of IT organizations from a wide variety of U-M units exhibited more than 100 posters that demonstrated the diverse ways technology is strengthening education, research, patient care, and other efforts across the university. A series of live presentations provided additional insight regarding several key initiatives, including engaged learning, innovative use of technology, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

On Tuesday morning, Symposium Chair and U-M Medical School CIO Ted Hanss introduced the event sponsor, U-M Associate Vice President and CIO Laura Patterson, who spoke about the progress the university has made towards its NextGen Michigan strategy. She encouraged attendees to review, discuss, and share feedback on the draft 2016 IT Strategic Plan, which is available on the CIO website.

President Schlissel Delivers Keynote

The event's keynote speaker was U-M President Mark Schlissel. In addition to stressing the importance of academic excellence, diversity, and sustainability, President Schlissel talked about the vital role IT-led innovation is playing in ensuring success across U-M.

"I think it's a very interesting IT challenge, not just in the life sciences but across the Michigan campus, to think of ways that we can tap into social networking ideas and IT platforms to build communities of scholars and students that aren't focused on one school or one college or one department—things that truly cut across the campus," the president said.

President Schlissel also touched on how upcoming efforts and new initiatives—including the new Biosciences Initiative, the Mobility Transformation Center, and the Digital Education & Innovation center—could impact future IT planning and resource allocation decisions.

"Your work in developing both the infrastructure and ways to extend the capacities of information technology to all the different parts of the campus is going to be essential for everything we accomplish together in the years ahead," the president said.

Get Involved

The IT Symposium is one of several activities organized by the Michigan IT Steering Committee to build community and encourage collaboration among the U-M's 2,400 IT professionals. Planning for next year's event has already begun. If you'd like to participate on the planning committee for the 2016 Michigan IT Symposium, email michigan-it-symposium@umich.edu.

Provide Your Feedback

Please take 2-4 minutes to provide feedback on the symposium. Your comments and suggestions will help improve future event planning.

Moving Closer to Expanded Multifactor Authentication

by Janet Eaton, ITS Performance Support

The university is nearing the end of the process for selecting a vendor for an expanded multifactor authentication solution. Vendor demonstrations wrapped up in September, and the Multifactor Project team then conducted due-diligence exercises and explored pricing with the two vendors who remained under consideration. On November 18 and 19, the two vendors came to campus to demonstrate and describe deployment, administration, provisioning, and more in detail for their offerings. Funding for the project was approved the week of December 7, and contract negotiations with the preferred vendor will begin shortly.

A group of representatives from ITS, Medical Center Information Technology (MCIT), the School of Dentistry, and the School of Information have been working together on a Multifactor Authentication Project to select a vendor in preparation for implementing multifactor authentication more widely across the entire university. Two new implementation partners recently joined the project: the Institute for Social Research (ISR) and Student Life. Both units will participate in the final stages of the vendor selection process and in early implementation of the chosen solution.

Multifactor authentication means using more than one factor to verify your identity when you log in. It means using at least two of these three factor types: something you know (such as a password), something you have (such as a tokencode), and something you are (such as a fingerprint). U-M's new multifactor solution will include a smartphone app as an authentication factor.

U-M CISO Don Welch says, "The most powerful single thing that we can do to help protect both individual and University of Michigan systems and data is to expand the use of multifactor authentication."

Once the new multifactor solution is in place, members of the university community will be offered the option to use it to protect all their U-M accounts. "We will encourage everyone to protect all their accounts with multifactor authentication," adds Welch.

CSDC Telecom Analysts & Billing Group

by Jennifer Herron, ITS Communication Systems and Data Centers

Have you ever wondered where the phone on your desk came from or who can offer you support if you can't access your voicemail? The Telecom Analysts & Billing Group within ITS Communication Systems and Data Centers (CSDC) supports telephone, data network, and video services for 35,000 students, faculty, and staff at the U-M Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn campuses.

The group provides important administrative support: it reconciles and identifies telecommunications charges on monthly statements, creates departmental reports, and modifies existing billing information. It also has an "innovation lab" that tests new features and products that could be useful to other U-M contact centers, such as:

  • Softphones (using software to replace physical desk phones)
  • Contact center scorecards (to track individual/team productivity)
  • Wallboards
  • Hively (per-transaction feedback)

While the innovation lab helps improve the technical side of their work, for the CSDC Telecom Analysts & Billing Group, providing outstanding customer service remains its number one goal. "We follow a proactive service approach," says Jo Ella Coles, director of telecommunications business services. "We not only try to solve the immediate problem, we also provide information on how to avoid the problem in the future. More importantly, we work to prevent problems in the first place."

According to Coles, a proactive service approach requires a thorough knowledge of a unit or department's goals, priorities, and business model. "Our campus customers want our service to add value for them," she explains. "Not just when we respond to a request or ticket—but all the time, because it shows we're genuinely interested in them and understand their needs."

Kudos & Campus News

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

U-M Impresses at SC15

U-M had a large presence at the Supercomputing 15 (SC15) Conference, which took place November 15-20 in Austin, Texas, and was attended by 12,000 visitors. U-M offered demonstrations of high-performance networking and collaborative exploration of volumetric data; Professors Quentin Stout and Christiane Jablonowski taught a tutorial on parallel computing; Sharon Broude Geva, director of Advanced Research Computing, led a session on strategies for academic HPC centers and served on a panel for improving diversity at Supercomputing; and Amy Liebowitz, a network planning analyst at ITS, was one of five women who received funding under the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program to attend the conference and work on the conference networking system. For details, see the ARC announcement.

UMHS Improves Electronic Medical Records System

Over 4,000 ambulatory sites within U-M Hospitals and Health Centers recently reached Stage 6 on the Ambulatory Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model. This achievement follows their June 2014 elevation to Stage 6 for inpatient areas. To achieve Stage 6, eligible providers must achieve significant advancement in their IT capabilities, which positions them to successfully address many current industry transformations. Read the article in UMHS Headlines.

Michigan IT LinkedIn Group

Michigan IT is on LinkedIn! Open to current members of the University of Michigan IT community, the Michigan IT LinkedIn group is a forum to connect, share knowledge, and find colleagues with similar interests. Welcome to the community!

Student Performance Analytics

U-M has tracked student behavior in its learning management system for years. That experience helped inform the development of the Caliper Analytics Interoperability Standard, a set of common definitions for learning activity data and how it is communicated back to institutions. The education news site Education Dive interviewed Sean DeMonner, executive director of teaching and learning at U-M, about how Caliper can help provide deeper understanding and actionable analysis of student performance.

Deadline for Staffworks 2016

Do you leverage best practices and technology to improve efficiency in your day-to-day work? Share your best ideas at U-M StaffWorks 2016—a conference for and by staff from all areas of the university, including UMHS. Submit your proposal for a poster or presentation by December 21. Staffworks will take place May 11 at the Ross School of Business and is sponsored by VOICES of the Staff.

Volunteer Opportunity

This holiday season, help raise money for The Knox Fund by volunteering at a Computer Showcase gift wrapping station. The Knox Fund—in collaboration with Services for Students with Disabilities—provides equipment for individual students who have requested accommodations beyond what U-M is able to provide. It's a great chance for Michigan IT staff to have a direct and positive impact on those students as well as create goodwill with the campus community. Add your name to the gift wrapping schedule today!

Security Super-Search

Launched in October by researchers at U-M, Censys is a search engine aimed at helping security researchers find potential vulnerabilities by tracking all the devices hooked up to the Internet. "We're trying to maintain a complete database of everything on the Internet," says Zakir Durumeric, the U-M researcher who leads the open-source project. Google is providing infrastructure to power the search engine, which is free to use. Read more.

Midwest Big Data Hub

U-M will play a leading role in the new Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub, part of a "big data brain trust" established by the National Science Foundation to bring together industry, government, and academia to accelerate this emerging field and harness it to solve some of society's toughest problems. Read the article in the University Record.

Holiday Showcase

Got some last-minute shopping to get done? You're in luck—the Computer Showcase will have three pop-up stores on campus to make your holiday gift buying a breeze: December 17 at Arbor Lakes, December 18 at the U-M Hospital Cafeteria, and December 22 at Wolverine Tower. Get details.

Lost and Found

Navigating campus can be daunting for recent arrivals to U-M. If you have new faculty or staff, remind them to check out the Campus Information Center's interactive map. The mobile-friendly map makes getting around campus a whole lot easier. Search for directions, parking by lot color, lighted pathways, and more on the Ann Arbor and Medical campuses.

Set Your Away Message from Your Smartphone!

ITS is developing a new MCommunity Directory interface designed to work on all devices. One recently added feature is the ability to set an away message from your smartphone. Try it out and give your feedback!

ITS will replace the current MCommunity interface when the new one is complete in 2016—and also add it to the Michigan App.

New Standard for Middleware Security

A new U-M data standard, Security of Enterprise Application Integration (DS-09), addresses the need for improved middleware security. The new standard applies to the entire university, including the Health System. It provides information security requirements for enterprise application integration that:

  • Integrate security across applications and infrastructure by implementing specific privacy and security safeguards.
  • Minimize the vulnerability of enterprise systems to external attacks, unauthorized disclosure of sensitive data, or unauthorized access to administrative interfaces or system configurations.

For an example of where the new standard applies, see Terms of Service for the U-M Directory of APIs.

Training & Events

Contact us to get your event listed.

Canvas Training

All UM-Ann Arbor courses will be taught in Canvas beginning in fall 2016. Nearly 2,000 courses have already moved to the new learning management system. Want to learn more about Canvas? Check out Canvas at Michigan for details about training and support.

IT4U56: Live Data on Digital Signs—Part 1

Tuesday, December 15; 9-9:45 a.m.; online. Mandy Grabowski (ITS) shows how to update your digital sign's content via a Google Sheet, using the Sheet-to-Sign connection. Level: Intermediate (for users who can add templates, regions, and basic content to a sign). Register in My LINC.

ITS Innovation Lunch

Wednesday, January 20; noon; Boyer 111 and Thursday, January 21; noon; Arbor Lakes Building 1, room 1412. (Topic TBD.) Meetings are open to everyone. For more info, join the ITS Innovation Lunches MCommunity group and read the ITS Innovation Lunches blog. If you have topic suggestions, would like to give a presentation, or want to help plan the lunches, email the planning team.

IT4U57: Input Controls in BusinessObjects BI4

Thursday, January 21, 9-9:45 a.m.; online. Deb Lennington (Ross School of Business) demonstrates advanced use of input controls in BusinessObjects BI4. Input controls can filter across all tabs in a document—a great way to create a single report that's easily customizable for multiple departments. Learn how to change values on the fly that feed into formula logic. Level: Advanced. Register in My LINC.

Contact Center CoP

Thursday, January 21; 1-2:30 p.m.; 2001 LSA Building. The Contact Center Community of Practice plans to hold four meetings in 2016: January, April, June, and October. For more information, join their MCommunity group or G+ Community.

U-M Google Apps Developers

Friday, January 22; 1-3 p.m.; location TBD (check the G+ Community). The topic will be Google's Execution API. Desserts, workshop-style discussion, and problem-solving will follow the presentation. Join the U-M Google Apps Developers G+ Community or MCommunity group to get notifications about upcoming meetings and to participate in group discussion.

Hacks with Friends 2016

Thursday, March 3 and Friday, March 4; main cafeteria, Building 18, NCRC. Sponsored by U-M CIO Laura Patterson, Hacks with Friends (HWF) is a spirited two-day hack event for Michigan IT professionals. Pitch your ideas, form a team, build a project, and show it off in a fun, friendly competition. Pitches for project ideas takes place on Wednesday, February 24. For more info and to register, visit the Hacks with Friends website. Mark your calendars!

Safe Computing

Clear the Decks for 2016!

Decommission Unused Systems and Devices. If you are responsible for any university systems, websites, servers, databases, or devices that are no longer used or needed, please remove them from university networks and decommission them. Be sure to securely preserve, remove, or destroy any files or other information stored on them as appropriate.

Securely Delete Data. See Secure Data Deletion and Media Disposal for information to help you securely remove data from computers, mobile devices, and media.

Planning for Electronic Gifts? Share the Secure Data Deletion and Media Disposal link with gift recipients or save it for yourself. The information also applies to personally owned devices that you give away or dispose of to make room for new ones.

Say Yes to Multifactor Authentication

Does your bank give you the option to use multifactor or two-factor authentication for your online accounts? Say yes! Do your social media accounts offer it? Say yes! How about the online file and photo storage services you use? Always say yes to multifactor authentication.

Multifactor authentication is the use of more than one thing (or "factor") to prove your identity when you log in. It is the online equivalent of showing two pieces of identification or adding a deadbolt lock to your front door, and it protects you and your online accounts and information from fraud and theft.

When you say yes to multifactor, you agree to use something in addition to your password to prove that you are you. You might enter a tokencode from an app or text message, answer a security question, or provide a thumbprint. If your password is stolen, the thieves won't be able to access your accounts because they won't have your second factor.

More and more online services—from Twitter to Facebook to Amazon—are offering multifactor authentication, and that's a very good thing.

Find more tips on the Safe Computing website.

Project Updates

Working on a project you'd like share with the Michigan IT community? Let us know!


ITS recently launched a BYOD (bring your own device) project. The team is interviewing faculty and unit IT staff across campus to better understand the technology limitations they face using their devices and how they are impeded from performing their university work anywhere. ITS will use these stories to build project requirements and scope for embracing BYOD at U-M. Have questions? Contact the BYOD team.


Ready to move a course site to Canvas? Faculty and support staff can request Convert2Canvas assistance to migrate materials from a CTools course into Canvas. Providing all requested information expedites the migration process and ensures Canvas courses are available within 3-5 business days.


The project team has begun meeting with the School of Nursing to plan their move to the service in April 2016. For additional details, view the MiWorkspace project website and academic unit implementation status.


ITS recently began an effort to better understand common problems around software management on campus. Since October, the Software Asset Management (SAM) project team has met with 25 campus units, schools, and colleges to better understand their software-related challenges. The long-term goal is to use this preliminary information to help inform a solution that will make it easier and more efficient for the campus community to obtain, use, and share software. Questions? Contact the SAM project team.


ITS decommissioned SiteMaker on November 30, marking the end of a successful two-year project. Over that time, the project completed about 2,000 site deletion and archive requests, performed over 150 consultations, and assisted in approximately 1,000 site migrations to alternate services. The Library, Medical School Information Services, LSA, and other units also provided significant support by helping their users move their sites to other services. The project site contains an archive of materials, communications, and support documentation.

WiFi Upgrade

  • Upgrades are now complete at Angell Hall Auditoriums, Angell Hall, Tisch Hall, Haven Hall, Mason Hall, and Duderstadt.
  • Construction/installation is underway at Art & Architecture, Chrysler Center, Dow Building, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Building, Undergraduate Science Building, Tappan Hall, Chemistry, and Dow Willard Laboratory.
  • Infrastructure design is underway for the Modern Languages Building, and site surveys are in-progress or scheduled for CC Little, 202 South Thayer Building, College of Pharmacy, and Hutchins Hall.

Visit the project site to learn more about the Campuswide WiFi Upgrade Project.

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.

Imaging Services (ImageNow/WebNow)

The ITS Imaging System has been upgraded to version 7.1. This upgrade impacts all users of the Imaging Client (the imaging software loaded on your computer). Users of the client will notice a change in the name of the software from "ImageNow" to "Perceptive Content", but the icon for the client looks the same as before. A complete overview of the changes is available. Users of the imaging web version (WebNow), MPathways, ServiceLink, and DART will not see a change in how documents are accessed.

ITS Tech Repair

ITS Tech Repair is now an official Apple Authorized iPhone Repair Center. This means that Tech Repair can serve the campus community with any repair services offered by an Apple Store. Official Apple parts are used for all repairs and iPhone loaners are available while devices are being serviced. Visit the Tech Repair website for more information.

M Cloud

ITS has begun preliminary planning to build a managed Amazon Web Services (AWS) option and AWS consulting capability. The goal of the managed service would be to provide access to the AWS environment for those who do not want to manage all aspects of an AWS account. ITS has also started to build a knowledge base to provide consulting services for those who do want to manage their own environments. For more information or to request consulting services, visit the M Cloud service page.




The M-Pathways Financials Systems software is scheduled for an Oracle upgrade from version 9.1 to 9.2 in September 2016. The Financials team in ITS Application and Information Services (AIS) will provide additional updates over the coming months as more information becomes available.

Online Access Request System (OARS)

The Online Access Request System (OARS) permanently moved to a new, more secure database and application platform following a successful December 5 upgrade. The new OARS website is https://access.its.umich.edu. Please update your bookmarks. New OARS is noticeably different from the previous version. Along with a new look and feel, it is faster, more flexible, and more secure. Requestors/Approvers are now required to use an MToken to log in to the system. You are invited to review the OARS: Overview of Changes for a high-level explanation of the differences between old OARS and new OARS. For more detailed instructions visit the OARS help and support page.

Service Status Page

Please be aware that ITS upgraded the Service Status site to a new, more user-friendly design on Friday, December 11. The new design is part of a larger effort by ITS to improve the delivery of service status information to campus.

Please Share This Issue!

...with two of your colleagues by directing them to our current issue. Better yet, invite them to subscribe to the newsletter.