Weekly update 2006-03-17

This week: Provost interviews, Dell meeting, CATalog presentations, Rave Wireless, F&A strategic planning, WebCT/Blackboard merger

Good Morning, All,
… and belated Happy St. Patrick’s day, and happy Spring (as of 1:38 or so).
Interestingly, no meetings with individual staff this past week. I’m not done, yet, but there were no meetings scheduled this last week.
We interviewed the last candidate for the Provost’s position, though. I participated with the Provost’s Senior Leadership group in four of the five interviews.
And I continued my series of meetings with key vendors by meeting with our Dell rep. I also sat in on the Dell presentation on blade servers. The TSG group will now develop a comparison of blade offering and standard servers to see if the use of blades makes sense for some of our applications.
I met with several clients, most notably A&S and OSP, to learn more about their IT needs and plans.
I joined the CATalog project team for four meetings with client groups; several more are scheduled for this week.
Since before I came to campus, Rave Wireless (yes, that’s their name — http://www.ravewireless.com/ ) has been trying to schedule a meeting with me, David Nestor, Keith Kennedy, and VP Gower. David, Keith, and I met with their rep on Tuesday for a description. They offer a set of web services for cell phones. Some are services they host and offer; some are services that link back to campus. They target student clients, obviously, but they have plugins for WebCT and Blackboard for course announcements; GPS systems for bus locations and friend locations; etc. Several schools have deployed the system; several others are piloting or preparing to deploy. While their services aren’t of direct interest to me, I think they might be of significant interest to students. We may put together a team to work with SGA to investigate Rave further.
CATalyst continues to speed toward the 1 April go-live. Conversion of production data was scheduled for this weekend. Performance testing has been successful. Fault tolerance has been tested, but not yet exhaustively. We’ll do that over the next ten days before go-live.
The F&A division continues to develop plans and processes for a comprehensive strategic plan. At our meeting on Friday, we discussed a couple of standard management methodologies to establish benchmarks and metrics. Over the next few months, we in CIT will begin a planning process in this context to establish metrics for the quality of our work, too.
In last week’s update, I forgot to mention that in my discussion with the Blackboard rep, we talked a bit about future of WebCT/Blackboard that will result from the “merger” (actually, the acquisition of WebCT by Blackboard). He said that for the next few years, they will continue to develop the two products in parallel and develop a merged set of API’s. They do not encourage customers to switch from one platform to another at this time. The “merged” product will be the Blackboard base system with some functionality added from WebCT that Blackboard doesn’t currently offer. This has implications for UVM, of course, and we’ll need to track this more carefully as we plan our own instructional management environment.

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