UW Information Technology

UW-IT Insights – Spring 2015

eNewsletter sent May 14, 2015

UW-IT Insights eNewsletter Masthead
A quarterly review of what UW-IT is delivering to the UW community

Contents: Waiver of F&A rate | Cyberinfrastructure Plan update | Network Infrastructure plan | MyUW Mobile updates | Husky Experience pilot project | MyPlan improvements | HR/P new timeline | In brief

Facilities and Administrative rate now waived on UW-IT research storage, compute and contracted cloud services

IT Research UW-IT research storage, compute and contracted cloud services are no longer subject to indirect costs for sponsored research expenditures.

The Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate is being waived for these UW-IT services. This allows Principal Investigators (PIs) in a sponsored research program to choose the most appropriate solution to meet their computing needs, whether it be contracted cloud services, storage or compute services through UW-IT, or purchasing equipment directly, without having to consider the inclusion of indirect costs.

Prior to this change, UW-IT services and contracted cloud services were not included in the waiver, resulting in artificially high costs for those solutions, especially when compared to purchasing equipment directly. Without these indirect costs, PIs now can purchase exactly what they need through UW-IT, with the ability to expand or shrink capacity on demand. This change includes the following benefits for researchers, PIs and the UW:

  • Opportunities for cost savings and efficiency
  • Scalability and elasticity—the option to expand and shrink capacity as needed
  • Lowering overall costs to the University (power, cooling, space, etc.)
  • Supporting environmental sustainability
  • Lowering risk for potential data loss by offering geographic resiliency
  • Increased security and flexibility

Although the F&A waiver will not be applied retroactively, all new charges on existing sponsored research will not be subject to the F&A rate. And new sponsored research proposals may exclude the F&A calculation for these costs.

Cyberinfrastructure’s latest move: Bring computing superpower to more UW researchers

Supercomputers for Research Expanded consulting services and more tools for UW researchers who need to scale up their computational resources are now offered by UW-IT as part of a cyberinfrastructure plan to enhance support for research.

“We built a very capable system with Hyak, the University’s shared research computing cluster, and attracted major anchor users with large computational needs,” said Chance Reschke, UW-IT Director of Research Computing. “We want to make these same tools available to other UW researchers who may occasionally need to work with supercomputers to solve large problems.”

Research scientist Pramod Gupta recently joined UW-IT to help expand consulting and outreach efforts. The goal is to provide broad-based education through courses and documentation, combined with targeted consulting, to enable UW researchers to make effective use of computational resources, no matter how big or small their needs, Reschke said.

“When it comes to cyberinfrastructure, our job is to ensure access,” said Reschke, who recently won this year’s David B. Thorud Leadership Staff Award for his work in advancing UW-IT’s high performance computing resources for UW researchers. UW-IT seeks to help researchers identify the most appropriate computational resource, Reschke said. “We want an environment at the UW where access to computing resources is never an impediment to discovery.”

UW plans for the future of IT network infrastructure

IT Network - 20/20 With major technological shifts under way, UW is launching an initiative to reevaluate its wired and wireless network infrastructure to make sure it will meet information technology needs far into the future.

“Buildings don’t change but technology moves very fast,” said David Morton, UW-IT’s Mobile Communications Director, who is co-leading the initiative. New technological approaches to designing, building and managing network infrastructure offer an opportunity for increased efficiencies and performance at reduced costs. Through the initiative, UW will consider whether it should rethink the way buildings are wired and how technology is offered to campus in light of these changes, Morton said.

Kicking off this spring, the year-long initiative will involve partners from across the University, including Capital Projects Office, UW Real Estate, Office of the University Architect, Housing & Food Services, the College of Arts & Sciences and UW-IT. Among the goals:

  • Build solid infrastructure to meet future demands and support the mission of UW
  • Reduce long-term operations and maintenance costs
  • Explore evolutionary and revolutionary technologies

MyUW mobile introduces Relevant Events and other improvements

MyUW Relevant EventsStudents can now see UW events relevant to their major in MyUW mobile thanks to a recent integration with departmental UW event calendars.

The feature is a direct response to student requests to see events pertinent to their interests, as expressed in previous surveys and user research. The feature integrates with UW’s event calendar system, Trumba, pulling event data from departmental calendars. Only calendars that run on Trumba can show events on MyUW mobile through this new integration. Departments that want to switch to Trumba can contact help@uw.edu for assistance.

Other enhancements in the works include a new feature that links to library research guides, an integration with MyPlan that will show courses “ready to register,” and new information for graduate students that will provide an overview of their degree committee, leave requests and actionable notices. UW-IT also made recent accessibility improvements, including fixes to improve navigation with screen readers and other accessibility tools. Since its release in September 2014, MyUW mobile has experienced nearly a 90 percent increase in access.

Husky Experience Initiative launches “Thrive” communications pilot

Husky Experience Starting fall quarter, first-year students will receive targeted, timely messages via MyUW as part of a pilot called Thrive, which supports the Husky Experience Initiative.

Thrive messages will raise awareness of key resources to help first-year students transition to the UW and get the most out of their experience here. The pilot supports the Husky Experience goal of providing transformative educational experiences—inside and outside the classroom.

Published weekly on MyUW, the messages will encourage first-year students to explore campus, participate in co-curricular activities and connect with other students.

The pilot was developed partly in response to research conducted by UW-IT that revealed challenges students face in participating in co-curricular opportunities, including a lack of information, time to participate and social connections.

The Thrive pilot, a partnership of the Provost’s Office, First Year Programs, the Career Center, Undergraduate Advising, Residential Life and UW-IT, seeks to improve the way students receive information.

MyPlan registration enhancements ready for fall students

MyPlan New students registering for fall quarter over the summer will have access to several significantly improved registration features in MyPlan that will be released May 31.

  • Integration with MyUW makes accessing MyPlan’s registration features even more convenient. Students will see what’s in their plan directly from MyUW and once they have built a schedule that is “ready to register,” students can drop it directly into the registration workflow from MyUW.
  • A new general education search feature helps students more easily find courses of interest that meet general education requirements and are compatible with other required coursework.
  • Improved messaging in Schedule Builder alerts students to blocking issues such as time conflicts or closed sections that are making it difficult for them to find a valid schedule.

HR/Payroll Modernization extends timeline to June 2016

HR/Payroll and WorkdayFollowing a decision earlier this year to maintain a semi-monthly pay frequency, the HR/P Executive Sponsors have decided to extend the project timeline by six months to go live on June 16, 2016. This decision comes after an in-depth analysis of impacts by the HR/Payroll Modernization team that included an assessment of business processes, design, configuration and integrations, training and change management, and other University and unit systems.

The extended timeline to deliver the UW’s new Workday HR and payroll system provides additional time for change management, user engagement, and readiness activities, and helps project partners in the Medical Centers, HR Information Systems, the School of Medicine, and UW-IT address impacts on downstream systems. This work will be accomplished within the original project budget.

The Configuration and Prototype phase continues into July, when the Test phase will commence, running through mid-May 2016. Campus engagement and participation will increase during this period and will include reviewing change impacts and Workday roles, and determining unit changes; participating in user acceptance testing and role-based training; and completing unit readiness activities and assessments.

In brief:
  • UW-IT now offers Service Desk support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. With this change, every call to 221-5000 and every email sent to help@uw.edu is assessed for urgency and answered day or night, with urgent issues acted upon immediately by on-call specialists. This expanded help service is part of meeting UW-IT’s strategic goal of providing comprehensive, consistent, quality support.
  • UW researchers will benefit from enhancements to SQLShare, a service that makes it easier to work with data by simplifying the use of complex relational databases. The enhancements are part of a continued collaboration between UW-IT and the eScience Institute. Efforts this spring and summer include improving performance, simplifying the user interface and providing additional functionality.
  • The UW TechConnect Conference 2015 on March 24 attracted 400 members of the University’s IT community who came together from 28 different departments to learn, explore and connect with colleagues. The day featured 15 programs focused on the future of IT at the UW. Event photos and presentations are now online.
  • Improvements to Canvas gradebook are underway to better support UW grading practices, thanks to input from UW instructors. Last autumn, instructors from nine different departments met with Canvas gradebook designers to share their experience using this assessment tool.
  • The 2014 Information Security and Privacy Report is online. The report highlights the Office of the CISO’s fourteen-year evolution of an “assumption of breach” methodology that provides a strategic framework for safeguarding the University’s information assets. This risk-management approach blends intelligence analysis, data visualizations, and user education to understand and mitigate threats to valuable UW data and promote a culture of information security and privacy.
  • The 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology was given to a group of chemistry teachers who demonstrated an innovative use of Canvas in delivering Department of Chemistry curriculum. They are: Andrew Boydston, assistant professor; Jasmine Bryant, lecturer; Colleen Craig, lecturer; Stefan Stoll, assistant professor.
  • An EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research Working Group paper details the importance of implementing an IT service catalog to reach the goal of becoming a service-oriented organization. UW-IT’s Karalee Woody, Executive Director of Customer Service & Support, is one of the authors of “The Higher Education IT Service Catalog: A Working Model for Comparison and Collaboration.”
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