Category Archives: Tech Update

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.

 

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/

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 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.

 

Red Paw Den – 24 Hour Study Area Opened February 2016

During the month of February 2016, SRSU will opened its newest technology space that allows students to have a place to study individually, in a group, and have access to desktop computers, a printer and the campus network. Housed in the Red Paw Den, the building often referred to as “Brick 3,” RPD Exteriorthe space has tables, chairs, three computers, a multi-function printer that prints, copies, and scans, and wired or wireless network access.  The facility is open to students through the swipe of their ID Card 24 hours a day.  RPD Logo
For more information on this opportunity at Sul Ross Alpine campus, read this article from the team at the Skyline.

RED PAW DEN
NEW 24-HOUR STUDY ROOM COMING AFTER THANKSGIVING BREAK START OF SPRING SEMESTER!
BY VASHTI ARMENDARIZ REPORTER
When SRSU President Dr. Bill Kibler noticed a growing need on campus for extended computer lab hours, he thought of providing students with a study room with 24-hour availability. And since Brick Cottage Three was not being used, it became the perfect location for turning his idea into reality.
The project was assigned to Sul Ross’ Office of Information Technology Department. Chief Information Officer David Gibson and Emily Herrera, his administrative assistant, got to work outfitting the 24-hour study room (or cottage).
“This will be great for group projects,” Herrera said, “as well as for off campus-students who do not have access to the study halls in the dorms.”
The “Red Paw Den” will be fully furnished and can accomodate up to ten people. Although equipped with Wi-Fi, students will need to bring their own devices such as iPads or personal laptops to work on.
Both on- and off-campus students will be able to use their student ID to access the room without having to reserve it through Campus Activities or calling UDPS (University Department of Public Safety).
Since the study room will be available at all times, it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. UPDS will make routine checks to ensure the safety of the room and the students within.
Depending on student usage and demand of the new facility, Brick Cottages One and Two could also be tapped to become 24-hour study rooms as well.
Herrera anticipates a grand opening of the Red Paw Den shortly after the Thanksgiving break start of the spring semester, and all students will be invited to take a look at the new facility.
More information regarding the status of the Red Paw Den will be sent in the coming week via Sul Ross email, so check your account for updates.

The Journey with Office 365 Continues

It has been several months since I’ve taken time to write about our experiences with Office 365. From the looks of it, it has been several months since I’ve written about anything. Our use of Office 365 has some positive growth in some aspects and almost none in others. To date, we have over 2400 individuals here at the university that have logged into Office 365 and have created a One Drive for Business space in Office 356. We currently have no way to determine exactly how One Drive is being used. Our belief is that most individuals have simply downloaded the free Office suite and have never returned. Some, however, are using OneDrive for Business based on questions we get from time to time at the Helpdesk (LTAC), on the sidewalk, or in meetings. As with most technology, we have the early adopters, we anticipate a few laggards, and there is a large number of individuals in the middle that have started using the product or will shortly.

The use of Sharepoint has begun to spread around campus as well but not at a rate I had hoped for. I don’t have a count in front of me but I’d guess we have set up 25 or more site collections for various departments or groups in Sharepoint.

I’m using some speaking opportunities at the start of this semester to remind faculty and staff what Office 365 can bring to the table and that it is great place to store files that are accessible from almost anywhere on any device. Little by little we will bring them along and hopefully allow them to see the value this technology offering can bring to their world and how it can change the way they do their work.

Office365 ProPlus Free

Over the last several months, OIT has been working toward a university-wide implementation of Office365, Microsoft’s recent offering that places many of their most popular pieces of software, Word, Excel, Powerpoint and others, in the cloud. With this implementation, all students, faculty and staff have access to download Microsoft Office and install it on a maximum of five personal computers.

Also included in Office365 are two relatively new features, OneDrive for Business and Sharepoint. Both of these applications allow files to be stored, safely and securely, in the cloud. Having your files in the cloud allows access to them anyplace you have an internet connection and on any number of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones, and may be shared with anyone. A primary differentiator between OneDrive and Sharepoint is that OneDrive is primarily for your own files while Sharepoint is best suited to departmental and workgroup uses.

This service is available NOW for all Sul Ross faculty, staff and students. Go to our Office365 page and learn how you can download, install and use this software.

It’s Been A Busy Summer

Much was planned for the summer.  Not all was accomplished but most of what we wanted to do has been done or is being completed.  Here is a list of some of the major accomplishments over the summer.

– Staffing.  We are once again at full staffing on the Alpine campus.  Our recent additions include:
  • Rob Stolz, Webmaster
  • Pad Rayburn, System Administrator
  • Shana Smith, Tech Support II
  • Michelle Castleman, Tech Support I
  • Al Brautigam, Web Developer
– Area207 – We are re-establishing what used to be the Instructional Technology Area and moving it to ACR 207 to assist faculty with their classroom technology needs.  This new area will be managed by Sandy Bogus and Estella Vega along with Rusty Klein.
– Updated Labs at RGC Campuses.  The lab computers are updated at the RGC-Uvalde and RGC-Del Rio campuses.
– Disaster Recovery Implementation. Hardware configured and running at the Del Rio location. We will start pushing data to this DR site and begin the process of testing our disaster recovery plan during the fall semester.
– Wireless Internet and Improved CATV Services in Residence Halls.  The Lobo Village residence halls as well as Fletcher Hall now have wireless internet capabilities and improved television services.  .
– New Blackboard Features available during the fall semester:
     + Bb Mobile. Allows access to Bb content via mobile devices (iOS and Android)
     + Bb Content. Allow sharing of Bb content across courses and adds ePortfolios to the available features.
     + Bb Community. Allows groups to be created and managed within Bb (e.g. Social organizations).
– Ellucian Mobile Implementation. Allows access to student information (grades, classes, holds, schedule and other information.)
– Anti-virus.  Malwarebytes anti-virus software was implemented for all Sul Ross owned computers.
– Training for Student Employees.  We spent time this summer creating training plans for the students that work with us here in OIT.  Our intention is to provide better service at the point of contact on technology issues.

A few items we are looking at for the near future:

– Castroville Campus.  In the coming weeks, we will complete the installation of equipment and network, working closely with the team from SWTJC, at the new Catroville campus.  The first classes at this new campus will be in the spring 2015 semester.
– A Campus Portal – Various frameworks being considered with a possible roll-out in spring 2015.
– Office 2013 for Students.  All SRSU students have the opportunity to download and install Office 2013 to their personal computers while they are active students at the university.  This new feature should be available in the October time frame.
– Upgrade to Exchange 2013 – Will provide a better Exchange experience for Desktop and Web. Also interacts with Office365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite.
– Desktop Backups – We will continue to look at backup options for desktop and laptop computers.
– Website Redesign.  We have started the process of redesigning some of the content on our public pages.  The redesign will take several months to work through.
– Telephone Switch Upgrade or Replacement.  We are looking at several options to upgrade our phone switch to provide more stability and features such as caller-id.

This list represents many of the major projects completed this summer.  There were many other smaller projects that were completed as well.  On to fall!