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UW Information Technology

UW-IT Insights — Fall 2016

UW-IT will modernize multi-factor authentication to protect more IT resources

Plans are underway to increase the level of protection for more of the University’s online resources by expanding the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA), a form of authentication that involves a second layer of security when verifying someone’s identity.

Many of the University’s online resources can be accessed simply by using a username (UW NetID) and password. MFA adds a second step to that process, for example using a security token to verify a user’s identity. By modernizing the UW MFA infrastructure, UW-IT seeks to expand the use of MFA by making it easier for IT teams and business owners to adopt it for more secure access to sensitive information.

“We ask too much of passwords,” said UW-IT’s Kirk Bailey, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer. “Making them more complicated isn’t the answer. MFA gives us more effective ways to increase trust while mitigating risks like phishing, malware and password reuse at third-party sites.”

Many administrative systems and IT infrastructure at the UW already employ MFA. This fall, UW-IT will begin to modernize the current infrastructure so that more resources can take advantage of MFA during 2017.

To expand MFA to thousands of new users, UW-IT will provide self-service interfaces for individuals to set up and manage user-friendly authentication devices. In doing so, UW-IT will meet demand for simple, secure, accessible options for user authentication that align with standards in research, education and beyond.


Modern fiber optic network around Lake Washington nears completion

A state-of-the-art high-speed fiber optic network around Lake Washington will go live in January 2017, thanks to a UW partnership with 23 municipalities in the Seattle metro area.

The network will provide increased network capacity for UW Bothell, and directly support the UW’s Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) program being developed in Bellevue. GIX is a partnership between the UW, Microsoft and Tsinghua University in China to create a new master’s degree in technology innovation.

At UW Bothell, several programs are dependent upon the increased network capacity to remain viable, said Roland Rivera, UW-IT Network Strategy & Telecommunications Director. The UW, which helped lead the project and provided technical support, and the 23 municipalities agreed in 2014 to work in partnership to develop the network. UW-IT designed and engineered the network and is under contract to operate it.


UW-IT now offers service desk help for UW units

Does your department or unit need help providing basic customer support for any kind of issue? UW-IT is launching a new UW Enterprise Service Desk that will provide a single-point-of-contact for your customer support needs, staffed 24 hours-a-day, to answer basic questions and get customers to the right professionals for more complex support needs.

UW-IT successfully operates its service desk, answering information technology questions, and is now offering help@uw.edu as a service to other units that need frontline service desk support.

The new service is designed to allow your team to focus on the higher-level aspects of your business, and includes:

  • Single point of contact (help@uw.edu)
  • Routing of customer questions received via email, phone or in-person
  • Self-service (online information)
  • Service desk support (Tier 1)
  • 24x7x365 customer service availability
  • Gathering of customer feedback
  • Trend analysis
  • Reporting and metrics

For more information, contact help@uw.edu


HR/Payroll system enters testing phase

HR/Payroll Modernization and Workday logoThe HR/Payroll Modernization program is moving to finalize all configuration work and unit testing of Workday, the University’s new integrated HR/Payroll system, by this fall—making significant progress and remaining on budget and on track as it moves toward a summer 2017 launch date.

With the start of autumn quarter, the program will focus on supporting readiness leaders across the University as they develop change mitigation, communications and training plans.

Program staff made significant progress since spring, when the Board of Regents approved additional funds and a timeline extension to support a smooth transition to Workday. The program achieved several milestones this summer:

  • Unanimous business owner sign-off on critical business process designs
  • A second cycle of payroll parallel testing
  • Five (of nine total) system conversions

All configuration and unit testing is expected to be completed before Thanksgiving. The HR/P team then will begin Regression and Integration Testing, an important and necessary precursor to User Acceptance Testing this winter.

The program’s change management efforts have ramped up as well. The Integrated Change Management team hosted more than 350 campus leaders and administrators for “Campus Foundations,” a multi-day orientation to Workday. And “Future State Process Sessions” have familiarized more than 100 UW administrators with key campus-facing, approved future state business processes. For more information, visit the HR/Payroll Modernization program website.


telecommunications upgrade on track and on budget

voip3A modern University telecommunications system at all three campuses is set to be completed in summer 2018, on budget and on time.

The telecommunications upgrade, begun in 2011, is moving more than 30,000 customers from aging telephone equipment no longer supportable by the vendor to modern telecommunications platforms.

This multi-year effort is led by UW-IT’s Network Strategy and Telecommunications unit. Through June 2016, more than 50 percent of customers at the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses, the UW Tower and South Lake Union complex had been moved to more responsive technologies. The effort includes integration of voice with other forms of communications, including voicemail and email.

New infrastructure in UW-IT data centers is already in place to support the new systems. During the next year, equipment will be modernized at the Health Sciences buildings. For more information, visit the Telecommunications Upgrade project website.


UW researchers to get more options, support from new UW-IT Research Computing unit

Fall16 Insights researcher story photoIn a move to strengthen information technology support for research at the UW, a new Research Computing unit has been created within UW-IT, bringing together cloud and high performance computing solutions to offer researchers a full array of options in a coordinated and integrated way.

The unit, which resides under Erik Lundberg, Assistant Vice President for IT Services & Strategic Sourcing, is focused on helping UW researchers identify and obtain the best possible tools and technical solutions to support their work, based upon their individual needs.

The new Research Computing unit includes:

  • High Performance Computing (Hyak), the UW’s on-premise research computing cluster, under Director Chance Reschke, who also oversees the shared Central File Service and the Data Backups and Archives Service as well as remote research computing
  • Cloud & Data Solutions under Director Rob Fatland, who offers data science and cloud computing consulting, evaluation and support to all UW research groups, from astronomy to medicine

The new unit offers tighter integration of the UW’s research computing services, while allowing UW-IT to continue its strong partnership with the eScience Institute, said Kelli Trosvig, Vice President for UW-IT and CIO.

“We want to support our researchers,” said Trosvig. “And give them a one-stop shopping solution so they can select the most appropriate option to meet their needs.”


In brief:

SERVICE SPOTLIGHT: Exchange Online now available to all at UW

Exchange Online, Microsoft’s email and calendar service, is now available to students, faculty and staff on all three campuses. Along with Gmail, Exchange Online offers a robust email solution, with a 50 GB mailbox, calendaring, contacts and task management, as part of UW-IT’s ongoing effort to modernize email services. Users can copy their existing email inbox and folders to Exchange Online themselves (see instructions on IT Connect), or pay a $25 fee per user to have a vendor handle it. If you are contemplating moving an entire unit, department or college to Exchange Online (or Gmail), please contact help@uw.edu for a consultation.

Save the date, submit a proposal: “Transformative IT—The New Normal” is the theme for the next UW TechConnect Conference, set for Thursday, March 23, 2017. To present, lead a panel or facilitate a hands-on problem-solving session, submit a proposal by Nov. 30. The fourth annual all-day conference will feature a keynote speaker, up to 16 concurrent breakout sessions and an afternoon networking event. UW TechConnect brings together the UW’s community of IT professionals to explore new ideas, share information and connect.

UW-IT’s Phil Reid has been appointed Vice Provost for Academic and Student Affairs within the Office of the Provost, to continue his leadership in furthering transformational change in support of UW students and faculty. In his dual role, Reid will continue to serve as Deputy CIO for UW-IT and lead UW-IT’s Academic Services, while also reporting to the Provost and advancing key initiatives to improve the student experience. Reid will focus on expanding the reach and impact of these programs, with the goal of making it easier for all UW students to access the rich array of opportunities offered at the UW.  

Free video captioning: UW-IT’s Accessible Technology Services will caption a limited number of highly visible UW video presentations, making them more accessible to everyone. These could be videos used multiple times in one or more courses taught by faculty, or provided by departments for the public on highly used websites. Individuals and units may apply online to take advantage of this short-term funding opportunity. Faculty interested in participating in a research study, using multiple captioning options in their class, can check that box on the application.