Applications Update – July 2019

This blog lists the applications and services that are now available for your use. If something is missing or needed, please contact me or LTAC and we will add to the list.

  • Banner 8 and 9 (only available on campus)
  • LoboOnline (Banner Self Service)
  • Blackboard
  • ImageNow
  • mySRSU
  • Email
  • Evisions Suite (Argos, Form Fusion, Intellicheck)
  • DegreeWorks
  • Office 365, including Sharepoint sites, OneDrive and Teams

Applications and Services we are working on at this time

  • Network Shares – once the network shares are available, we will encourage each individual and department that has a network share to migrate their data to Office 365.

You may contact LTAC at techassist@sulross.edu, 432-837-8888, x.8888, or toll free at 888-837-2882.

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Projects for Summer 2018

The Office of Information Technology is busy with several projects and updates over the summer.  Here is a list of some of our most important project on our plate along with status and possible completion dates.

  • PBX/Server Room Updates.  The Systems and Networking team is busy with two significant updates in our PBX/Server room.  They are working with Dell to install new servers that provide faster processing capabilities and higher throughput.  These new servers are used to run many of our institutional applications, including email, Banner, Perceptive Content (formerly ImageNow) and others.  These new servers will allow us to continue to offer these services for the next several years.  Dell is scheduled to be onsite July 17 and 18 to install the new hardware.  Over the few weeks following the install, all the applications will be migrated to these new servers.  There should not be any downtime associated with this installation and the migration to this new hardware.  The Systems and Networking team is also replacing a number of aging network switches in this space to ensure we can maintain the network connectivity you are used to seeing across the campuses and to the internet.  These new switches will be installed during the August timeframe.  Expect some downtime with this upgrade.
  • Banner 9.  The next iteration of Banner, our ERP solution that includes the student information system, finance system, human resources system, and others, is being updated and tested.  The advantages of this software over previous versions of Banner is it not longer requires java on the local computer, it runs in a larger number of browsers, and can be accessed through our single sign-on mechanism.  The software has been installed, is being tested, and is slated to be the only version of Banner we run sometime during the fall semester.
  • Touchnet OneCard VIP Solution.  Our existing ID Card system, installed in the mid-2000’s, is old and difficult to keep running.  To replace this old system, SR has contracted with Touchnet, our bill payment provider, to implement their OneCard VIP (?) system.  The initial phase of this project will replace the current card reader locations one-for-one and provide a supported, stable environment for us to grow with.  Locations for this upgrade include Lobo Village 1, 2, 3 and 4, Fletcher Hall, Warnock Science, Centennial, ANRS and the Museum.  A new location, ACR, will be added to the system to allow us to experiment with the wireless access system Touchnet is selling now.  If the wireless systems performs as advertised, expanding into other locations across the Alpine campus will be easier since we won’t be required to pull wire to each access location.  With this update, the card production facilities are to moved to Lawrence Hall, in the one-stop-shop located on the first floor of that building.  We are on schedule to implement this new system between July 30th and August 3rd.
  • Switch/Network Updates for RGC Campuses.  The switch hardware for the Del Rio and Eagle Pass campuses is in need of updates.  The Networking team has already completed the needed updates in the Del Rio Campus and will perform the same updates for the Eagle Pass campus during the fall semester.  In the fall, we will consider replacing some of the switches that are beyond their life expectancy and are no longer supported by the manufacturer.
  • New Classrooms for RGC Campuses.  The Educational Technology Director and LTAC are building six new classrooms for the RGC campuses, two at each location, with equipment salvaged from the Castroville site.  These classrooms allow more offerings at those locations in support of student demand at those campuses.  These classrooms are scheduled to come online before the start of the fall semester.
  • Fire and Safety Systems Updates.  A number of repairs and updates are being applied to the various safety systems across the Alpine campus (SWTJC provides these updates to the RGC campuses).  These include updates and repairs to fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems, the current card access systems, and others.  These repairs and updates are already in place or to be completed in time for the start of the fall semester.
  • Print Management via Papercut.  The team in LTAC is installing and configuring an application, Papercut, that is used widely for print management.  Once the software is installed and running, it will be used to monitor printing activity in labs, some classes, and in locations where printers are generally available, such as the Library.  For at least one long semester, data is to be collected on these locations in order to determine who is printing and how much are they printing.  The software will be ready for the start of the fall semester.
  • Disaster Recovery Replacement.  For the last 4 years, servers at an alternate location have been used as a backup location in the event of a disaster  that requires us to run our applications from an alternate location.  This hardware is now nearing its end of life and needs replacement.  The OIT staff are pulling together information and developing alternatives for this important feature.  While new solutions won’t be in place until next summer, this evaluative process is the starting point for determining where we need to go next.  Alternatives include:
    • Expanding the use of alternative systems we already own
    • Cloud-based options
    • Third-party options
  • Annual Risk Assessments.  OIT and other areas of the institution are required to perform an annual risk assessment on the state-owned information resources available to us.  This analysis allows us to understand and develop plans for the risks associated with these assets.  Over the remainder of the summer, OIT will work with other departments to complete the risk assessments for 2018.
  • General Lab and Classroom Cleanup.  Each summer, while many of our academic spaces are not in use, LTAC reimages and cleans up many of the computers in these spaces to ensure they are ready for the coming academic year.  For example, this summer LTAC is working on LH 300, LH309, Ferguson 201, and others.  This includes cleanup of computers as well as the physical space. These updates are to be completed before the start of the fall semester.
  • Security Camera Expansion.  We are evaluating locations for an expansion of the current security camera system.  A number of locations have cameras and recorders that are no longer functioning and need to be replaced.  Additionally, a number of new locations need to be brought online to ensure we have adequate coverage for the campus.  This evaluative process is to be completed this summer with the expansion work being completed in the fall.

 

Telephone System Team

The day has finally arrived and the new phone system is ready to go.  The team pictured here all had a hand in some aspect of this project.  Today, we’ll be out and around the campus ensuring that all the phones come back to life and that everything is working to the satisfaction of our campus partners.

 

  Can’t say enough about each of the SRSU team members and also want to thank the folks from Big Bend Telephone for the support through this project.

 

OneDriveforBusiness Now Supports Version History for All File Types

OneDrive is a great place to store all your important documents.  Prior to the recent announcement from Microsoft, while you could store and edit almost any file type on OneDrive, only Microsoft Office documents allowed you to store and edit multiple versions of a file.

Microsoft today (7/29/2017) announced that version history is available for all (yet to be defined) file types and not just Office files. This allows you to look at and edit previous versions of older PDF and CAD files, for example.

“Previously, version history only supported Office files. Now, version history is compatible with all file types, so you no longer need to worry about your PDFs, CAD files or even your photos and videos getting accidentally edited—you’ll always be able to restore or download a previous version”

See more at this web page:
https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/07/19/expanding-onedrive-version-history-support-file-types/

Phishing Attempts: Internal Communications Work

I’m not the most consistent blogger around. And when I do blog, it is typically meant for the internal audience at my institution. I’m usually try to tell them about a new feature we’ve implemented or warn them about an issue we see that could impact our computers, network or servers.

In this post, however, I want to turn my attention to those outside of the institution and, in particular, to those inside the various IT organizations, such as CIOs, ISOs, Comm Managers (if you are lucky to have someone like that in your staff), generally anyone that has responsibility for communication from IT to your institution/organization centered on IT opportunities or issues. And, my message is very brief: Communications work!

As the CIO/ISO for my institution, I have responsibility for much of the communication outside of the Office of Information Technology (OIT). When we have a new offering or see an issue on the horizon, I sometimes blog about it, put it in social media (or have my assistant do that), and often wonder if it makes a difference. I also email the campus on a regular basis (at least monthly) and use the various venues I have to speak to the campus about these things. But, still, that small voice in the back of my mind ask that question again, “Does it make a difference?”

I say it does make a difference and encourage you to start or continue your communications practices because they do work. It is also safe to say that if you don’t communicate then you will have no positive impact whatsoever. That much I can assure you of.

Our campus constituencies often see stories on TV, on social media, and other venues that inform them about a major breach, virus infection, or new opportunity from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, or Facebook. My job and a primary reason for the communication from my office is to let them know that I am also aware and that my staff is keeping their eyes on things. The worst thing I can do is leave them wondering if I know or care. I see the same things they see and I want them to know that I am aware and am concerned.

How do I know communication works? As I walk across campus and meet people on the sidewalk, they like to say things to me such as, “I didn’t click today!” which is an obvious reference to the number of phishing attempts we all see on a regular basis. I might also hear a thank you for letting them know about that new software feature or that opportunity to learn more about this or that.

Today, I received another phishing attempt. This one was in Italian. Thankfully, I can still read a few words of Italian from the time I lived there many years ago and knew it was an attempt to get me to follow a link in the message. But, here is the great thing I realized. Due to the communications I have sent over the last few years and the speeches I have given about being careful on the internet, I feel that most of the people at my institution are aware of these opportunities and know not to click. I recognize that not everyone will get it and sometimes people just forget. Stuff will happen. But, I feel better knowing we have communicated to and educated the Sul Ross institution and have confidence that our risk is lowered by taking time to educate our members. And that helps me sleep better at night and have a more relaxing weekend (I’m writing this in Saturday morning after all).

My encouragement to you is to communicate or continue to communicate if you are already doing so. Does it work? Absolutely. Is it a panacea for all our IT problems? Absolutely not. But, I assure you, it helps our institutions and it helps the CIO and the ISO to sleep a little better and enjoy their time off a bit more. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for reading.

Access to Office 365 and OneDriveforBusiness

We changed the way you access Office 365 and OneDrive for Business.  In the past, it was common to go to the Sul Ross Home Page (www.sulross.edu), and click on Office 365 in the Quicklinks menu.  That link has been removed and access to Office 365 and OneDriveforBusiness is now through mySRSU, the Sul Ross portal.  View these quick videos below for how you access these two helpful web applications today.

Open Office 365

Open OneDrive

 

 

 

mySRSU: Update on Single Sign On (SSO)

mySRSU logo
By now, many of you have logged into and used mySRSU, the portal offering for the campus.  As you have done so, you have experienced that not all of the links and applications within mySRSU use Single SIgn On (SSO).  Here is an explanation for this behavior in mySRSU and information about what to expect going forward.

The goal is for everything we offer in mySRSU is that you only have to log in once and have access to all the content and applications within the application.  As of today, not all of the links to information in mySRSU are working as expected.  Specifically, the Email and One Drive links are challenging because Microsoft uses a different authentication mechanism than mySRSU.  We are trying to figure out how to get these Microsoft application links to align with the vision of mySRSU.  This will happen but will take longer than originally planned.  The Lobo Online link is a similar issue.  We are working with Ellucian on resolving this authentication challenge and hope to have a solution in place in the next two or three weeks.

As for Blackboard, the authentication is working.  If you log into mySRSU and then click on the Blackboard link within 10 minutes, you will be taken to Blackboard without having to log in again (after you hop through the official Blackboard page).  The issue here is that the SSO engine only respects your original credentials for 10 minutes (600 seconds to be exact), after which you must provide your LoboID and password again for any new applications, in this case Blackboard.  Once again, we are working with Ellucian on this issue.  We are asking them to increase the amount of time EIS respects the credentials for your login.  This is actually fairly easy to do.  The challenge is finding the right amount of time so we are not inadvertently leaving apps open for hours at a time, putting your data at risk.  We recognize the timeout as it is today is too short.

As you use mySRSU and find other concerns, please use the feedback button at the bottom of the page.  This feedback helps us improve your experience.

mySRSU Portal Announcement

Better communication and easier access to the technology services offered by Sul Ross are two of the goals for everything we do here in OIT.  The institution’s information resources are scattered across a number of platforms and there is no easy way to get to all of them without going to each application or service individually and logging into those services.

A portal represents a change in the institutional philosophy with regard to the delivery of services, and is a major shift to a customer-centric design of campus-wide IT facilities.  Therefore, beginning Tuesday, August 16, 2016, SRSU is offering a portal environment, mySRSU (https://my.sulross.edu), that brings the institution’s disparate resources together into one place.

portal

There are many goals associated with a portal implementation.  The benefits the mySRSU portal provides to Sul Ross are as follows:

  • Single Sign On (SSO).  One benefit of a portal is the ability to login once, have access to multiple services, and not have to log into each service individually.  SSO allows the user of the portal to focus more on the task at hand and spend less time thinking of where a particular service exists and how to get to it.
  • Aggregation of Services.  Portals bring together information from various applications into a single framework.  This allows the user to focus more on the task at hand and spend less time thinking of where a particular service exists and how to get to it.
  • Web Interface.  Access to courseware, financial aid information, class schedules, grades, communities of interest within the university, such as sports, clubs and community services, as well as other items essential to the life cycle of the student through any standard web browser increases the opportunity for communication to and between students and the institution.
  • Mobile Ready.  The design of the portal allows the content to be accessed and viewed on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.  This allows easier access for the mobile generation reflected in our student body.
  • Business Behind the Wall.  Since most or all of the applications and data viewed through the portal framework represents the business of each individual and the institution, these process and information no longer need to be housed on our public website.  The process of moving these items to the portal allows that public website to be cleaner, leaner and helps better tell the story of the university.

You may access the portal at https://my.sulross.edu or by clicking on the mySRSU link at the top of the home page.

 

iPhone Scam

A recent scam focused on users of iPhones has surfaced. I wanted to share with you to keep you informed. The bad guys are always looking for ways to get you to their sites. The simple message is “Don’t Click” if you weren’t expecting something from Apple or any other service provider. As the article states, Apple (and I’m sure any other reputable company) does not contact users of their products through text messages.

http://mashable.com/2016/04/21/iphone-texting-scam/#AoFj3sIfoiqQ

Password Changes

Sul Ross State University Policies and Guidelines require the institution to achieve and maintain appropriate protection for institutional assets, such as computers and information. A part of that protection is the management of account IDs and passwords. To ensure this standard is followed, each user of information resources at SRSU must create complex passwords and ensure they are changed every 180 days.

Change your password before April 27th to prevent access issues to your Sul Ross accounts and computers.

· Instructions for changing your password
· Link to LoboPass
· How to create a strong password
· Sul Ross Password Guidelines

Affected system include email, Blackboard, access to campus computers, Office365, and others.