Weekly update 2006-04-07

This week: CATalog, CATalyst HR goes live, Incident Response Team, Moved Into Our House …

I’m mindful that I haven’t send updates for a couple of weeks now, and I intend to go back and fill in the blanks. But meanwhile, I wanted to not get yet another week behind. So here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been doing.
Staff Interviews
Two more staff interviews this week. I think we’ve finished, but I’ll check my list to make sure before concluding that.
I met today with the students who staff the Helpline and found that meeting to be very informative. I think we need to find ways to take better advantage of UVM’s bright and motivated students to do more innovative things in IT. I think they can be a very valuable resource as we rethink the way we deliver services to our customers.
Thanks to you all for your time. Those meetings were very helpful.
Project CATalog
Three more meetings with the CATalog project team this week. Their report will be out some time in the next month. It occurs to me that it might be helpful for them to put their slides up on a web site for semi-public browsing, and I’ll suggest that. The presentation continues to evolve as they incorporate suggestions from their meetings, so they may be reluctant to put the current PowerPoints up, but I hope they will eventually.
This continues to look like a solid framework for IT strategic planning.
School/Department Meetings
I met with the CoMIS staff early in the week in a very informative meeting. I learned a bit about what they do and got some comments and suggestions for the evolution of services and support.
Incidentally, one of the major items on my short-term agenda was to see us integrate the ID system between various schools and the core campus system. It looks like CoM will be the first such integration, with the synchronization of the passwords between the NetIDs on the CoM Active Directory system and the central LDAP system. Kudos to Mike Austin and Jim Heinz for working through this. The disconnect between systems has been a major nuisance for an important group of clientele, and it will be very helpful for them to have a single ID/password to remember for the majority of their electronic access.
CATalyst went live on Monday, effectively, and was very successful. A note from VP Gower encouraged faculty and staff to explore the self-service information available from the system, and many of us did. The primary problems were — no surprise here — with people not remembering their NetID or password.
We’re confident that payroll and benefits calculations will be accurate when payroll is run at the end of next week, but the CATalyst and HR staff continue to test and check, just to make sure. You may have noted that the payroll stubs include much more information. One of the benefits of the new ERP system is that it provides that information directly to members of the community in an easy-to-access web form.
Congratulations to the CATalyst crew on a job well done. These implementation projects are incredibly tiring, and it’s great that they’ve gotten to see the system start up so smoothly. The successes are due to their hard work and dedication. Thanks, guys!
Incident Response Team
A small group of us from CIT met early in the week to discuss procedures for handling computer security incidents in a systematic manner. We concluded that we need two groups, one tactical and one strategic, and both should have a core of CIT staff but should include distributed support staff or administrators as well. The tactical group will deal with incidents as they occur, and the strategic group will consider changes in policies and procedures that would help us prevent security problems.
We will be having additional meetings that engage other constituents from across campus to develop procedures and checklists and to develop plans to systematically improve the security of information services on campus. More about this as we work through those meetings.
Several meetings this week centered around security and business-continuity planning. Gary Margolis had attended a conference that focused on lessons learned from the experiences of universities in New Orleans, and we’ll be working together to make sure we in CIT incorporate the best practices into our procedures. So far, I believe Gary is quite impressed with the planning and practices that are already in place within CIT, as I was when I arrived.
Since before I arrived, I have been planning to have an external security audit conducted of network and systems security. With the startup of CATalyst, it seems most appropriate to start with a focused audit of that system. I’ve begun discussions with an individual who has handled audits like this on Peoplesoft implementations at other universities. We don’t yet have a schedule for the audit, but I hope it will occur before the end of the semester. I’ll coordinate with the CATalyst staff before inviting a company to try to break into the system. But after we’ve incorporated the lessons from the first audit, I do plan to extend the audit more broadly across the complete network and to other systems on campus.
Yes, Karen, Lily, and I have moved into the house last week. Our daughters came up last weekend to check on their mom’s new home: they approve. Karen has most of the boxes unpacked, and it’s starting to feel like a home. Lily has settled right in and seems like her old self (though she’s only 2 years old, so “old self” is a bit hard to justify). Without the grandchildren to feed her snacks from the table, though, she’s more like the pup she was in San Diego in terms of her behavior. Karen’s looking forward to finishing the basic setup so that she can start volunteering for some service work in Williston. We all continue to be delighted to be here, me for both work and community and Karen for community. Feels like home.

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