Weekly update 2006-02-10

This week: Move from San Diego, staff interviews, Tech Park, Board meeting, space planning, CATalyst

I’ll post updates, hopefully weekly, of my activities so that CIT staff are aware of projects underway, plans being discussed, and my priorities.
Karen and I finished our last drive from San Diego on Monday. Left her with her daughters in CT and I drove on up to Burlington late at night (in the snowstorm). We turned over the house in SD to its new owner; we drove 3200 miles in 5 days; and our furniture is being stored in Mass somewhere until the house is done sometime in the next month. So things are back to what’s passing for normal right now.
Staff Interviews
I met with 11 more CIT staff this week. The interviews continue to be informative, both about the work individuals do and about opportunities to improve service for our customers. [If you haven’t made an appointment, please contact Wendy Coy at X60644.]
Client Meetings
I met with the Business School dean and technology staff to review their facilities and services and to discuss their needs and aspirations.
Off-Campus Computer Room Planning
In preparation for the Board meeting and a planned presentation in support of a funding request, I worked with Myron Wheeler, Randy Spooner, and Mike Austin to develop plans for a computer equipment room in Tech Park, the former Digital Equipment plant. The plan is to develop a computer room off campus into which we can move all of the equipment in Waterman and server components in Mann and Southwick, leaving only secondary, backup servers in the latter sites. That will free up Waterman for other purposes and relieve some of the space pressure in Mann and Southwick.
We’re also planning for additional quality new space on campus for equipment that would allow us to consolidate the remaining server equipment from Mann and Southwick and with separate space to host servers for other offices on campus. The result of all this will be a single new primary computer room off campus and a single new secondary computer room on campus.
In designing the off-campus site, we planned to move older servers into blade-style systems with much greater density. Those systems will let us standardize the equipment and OS environments and, in most cases, improve server performance with faster equipment.
The Tech Park site is attractive because of the dual, independent power feeds (reportedly resulting in no power failures in at least the past ten years), building water chillers, and multiple network providers with still others willing to provide service. FAHC’s facility is located in the same building. The available space appears to have been manufacturing production space with very high ceilings and slab floors, so some site preparation will be necessary. The work would start immediately and the space would be available to begin transitioning equipment in late summer/early fall.
Board Meeting
The Board meeting on Friday was preceded by a protest regarding part-time faculty position cuts in Education. The discourse was civil, and remarks by student and faculty representatives and by President Fogel and Chairman Lisman were thoughtful and respectful.
Our request to the Board, through the Facilities and Technology Committee, was for $4.4M for fitting the Tech Park space with raised flooring, backup water chiller, backup motor generator, racks, cable management, etc. There was some discussion about alternative ways of managing the lease, but support for the plan. The Board later approved the proposal.
Space Planning
Planning for future realignments of space is still underway, but it is likely that we should plan to move all IT functions from Waterman by September, 2007. We would have approximately a year to move equipment to the new computer room (a planning group will begin developing detailed plans shortly). We will be seeking office space for central IT staff so that we can vacate space, too, within 18 months. We have no details or concrete plans at this point, but I’ll keep you informed as plans evolve.
When I arrived on campus in January, there were concerns that the equipment platform for the ERP project might be too complex to stabilize and manage and concerns that the first applications might not be ready for deployment in March as planned. We’ve begun Wednesday ERP infrastructure meetings to ensure that we have resolved any issues with the platform, and Oracle has provided significant additional technical assistance in the last few weeks. At the CATalyst Steering Committee meeting, we reviewed plans for training and learned that by first reports, the HR staff training was quite successful. We had received and installed patches to correct show-stopper bugs in the budgeting system and were preparing to test that system. The first payroll parallel tests were quite successful, too.
So it looks like CATalyst is on track for a 1 April go-live with increasing confidence that the system and applications are ready for full production status.

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