Initiative IV

Strengthen IT Foundations, Infrastructure, Operations and User Experiences

CWRU must continue to strengthen the foundational elements of our IT environment through service excellence and raising awareness of the IT resources available. In order to promote more innovative uses of technology, CWRU must ensure that the foundational technology works. The IT environment must also be kept up to date with the latest industry trends, such as virtualization, cloud technologies, video conferencing and more. 

The IT environment at CWRU has many great features available – but knowing what they are and how they may be used can be a significant challenge. Ensuring that the university community knows what relevant IT innovations (new and old) are available to members of the university and how to fully take advantage of them must become standard practice.

Enable the university to make the most effective use of university-provided IT resources by implementing programs that support familiarization, training and ongoing education. Various delivery methods such as step-by-step written instructions, in-person training and online materials should be utilized. 

Action Item 10.1: Collaboratively develop, implement and support education and training programs for all university citizens that will provide opportunities to enhance their knowledge and understanding and to improve their needed skills to fully utilize the technology and services available to them. These programs will include training for new faculty, staff and students. 

Action Item 10.2: Provide and publicize the availability of an easy-to-use, single resource for students, faculty and staff to identify, access and learn about available IT services.

Providing exemplary service to the CWRU community is absolutely essential. Exemplary means ensuring systems are user friendly and available and members of the university community are treated with kindness and the utmost respect. When supporting the technology needs of the university community, IT must be more proactive instead of reactive and envision services through the lens of the customer. Monitoring systems, proactive maintenance to prevent failure, and make sure procedures are in place to bring systems back up efficiently and effectively when there is a system outage, are all built-in components of this service. Members of the university community possess different levels of technology skills. IT must support these diverse levels of technical skills and go beyond the expectations of the community. 

Action Item 11.1:  Ensure all systems are monitored and procedures are in place to restore systems that encounter problems. Implement fail-over systems and ensure systems are backed-up appropriately. 

Action Item 11.2:  Expand self-help tools, community-driven special interest groups, interactive/online support options and access to experienced IT professionals. Ensure these support tools and options accommodate all levels of technical skills. 

Action Item 11.3: Create a support model that addresses the need for scalable, consistent and transparent support strategies that will serve the main campus and off-campus locations, such as the Siegel College, University Farm and beyond. This model will include support for CWRU’s online learning programs.

Being “connected” to the world is a baseline expectation. The members of CWRU community teach, learn, research and play on many different devices, often congruently. Network access of one form or another (wired, wireless, cell) is an essential part of the university infrastructure for classrooms, offices, study areas and labs.

The prevalence of small portable devices requires a responsive and versatile university network that embraces the ever-growing number of platforms being run on those devices.

These expectations are not limited to our physical campus. CWRU must consider the user experiences on all devices in a global context, including virtual presence. Researchers, teaching faculty, administrators, students and others continue to find the need to do the work of the university outside of its walls.

Action Item 12.1: Provide a secure, reliable, highly available and robust core network infrastructure to the university with enough bandwidth to serve the university community at peak hours.

Action Item 12.2: Ensure the entire CWRU community has secure access to university information and services from anywhere Internet access is available.

Action Item 12.3: Provide secure mobile experiences for key university systems, enabling users to securely conduct university enterprise activities from any device.

Action Item 12.4: Continue to evaluate, implement and support technologies that take advantage of modern cloud architectures such as Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service. These technologies will provide more robust, secure, reliable and highly available systems than what can be supported in our data centers today.

Action Item 12.5: Create a methodology to evaluate and select the best cloud architecture needed for each application and/or system including good fiscal stewardship, accessibility of data and ease-of-use. Ensure all implementation costs are identified and that staff members are trained to support these cloud architectures.

New students, faculty and staff should experience excellence in IT orientation efforts, service and support. Nearly everyone owns multiple devices - desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, game consoles and more. IT at CWRU must continue to work to provide programs for group discounts for hardware and software and that useful distribution mechanisms for acquisition and installation are available and easy to use.

Action Item 13.1: Simplify the experience of ordering, purchasing and provisioning IT services in collaboration with Procurement. CWRU must leverage scale while being good stewards of university resources.

Action Item 13.2: Continuously develop and deliver programs and services that encourage and facilitate student access to IT devices and software. In a convenient manner, make possible the access of technologies at no cost or large discounts.

Action Item 13.3: Ensure that the purchasing, licensing, tracking and delivery of software are conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible by collaborating with the university community, including encouragement to use open source tools where appropriate.

Action Item 13.4: Develop a model that provides for flexibility in its approach in the types of technologies (hardware and software) deployed so CWRU can take advantage of the widest array of opportunities presented by the marketplace.

Action Item 13.5: Support the university's goals for sustainability by identifying and deploying technologies that promote more effective power management and lower operational energy use overall.

Collaboration tools and spaces on campus are abundant, and will continue to grow as technology changes. IT will focus greater attention on the robustness of the available technological tools, including improving its basic elements (room scheduling and collaborative physical and electronic spaces). Ensure that these tools are accessible to accommodate special needs of members of the university community.

Action Item 14.1: Regularly review all collaboration tools (email, calendar, audio and video conferencing) to ensure the appropriate tools are available and supported.

Action Item 14.2: Review the room scheduling system with university partners to determine effectiveness and ease-of-use and, if necessary, garner the resources to replace or improve.

Action Item 14.3: Form partnerships throughout the university and assess the potential opportunity to develop physical and virtual spaces that support improved connection and collaboration within the CWRU community and beyond.

Action Item 14.4: Provide virtual collaborative meeting places to help CWRU connect with teams inside and outside the CWRU community. These meeting spaces could be enabled through online virtual meeting places that leverage video conferencing and real-time document and presentation sharing.

Action Item 14.5: Together with university partners, collaboratively develop and implement standards for ensuring accessibility to IT resources to accommodate the special needs of members of the university community.

communication devices. With a click of the mouse, a person can move from an instant messaging exchange to a video conference call or a traditional telephone call. CWRU needs to continue investing in cost-effective systems with high-definition video, high-quality displays and high-fidelity audio that create a sense of presence and realism for group conferencing. Availability of such systems in university workspaces can increase the productivity and effectiveness of collaborative work. 

Action Item 15.1: Continue to evaluate, provide and support technologies that promote seamless communication and effective collaboration within and beyond the CWRU campus and extended environment. 

Action Item 15.2: Provide a reliable, widely available, simple to use, collaborative infrastructure that supports both high-quality as well as self-service video and audio conferencing. 

Action Item 15.3: Provide reliable, high-quality, live streaming for key events, symposiums and sporting events at a reasonable cost; provide on-demand streaming for viewing at later dates and times.

Applications used across the university should be intuitive. Ease-of-use is a positive incentive that encourage university members to work within the integrated information environment instead of developing isolated outside systems to accomplish a task. Most of the knowledge required to operate one system will be similar to others. Training is kept to a minimum, and the risk of using a system improperly is low. 

Action Item 16.1: Continually improve the functionality of enterprise applications with an eye to the enriched user experience and elimination of shadow systems. 

Action Item 16.2: In collaboration with the university community, create and implement consistent business processes and practices by consolidating redundant applications found across the university. 

Action Item 16.3: Ensure enterprise applications are fully integrated. Data should not need to be entered multiple times. These applications should be so seamless that end-users do not need to know which application they are using. 

Action Item 16.4: Applications will be required to have a common look and feel and support ergonomic requirements. Hence, the “common look and feel” standard must be designed and usability test criteria must be developed. 

Action Item 16.5: Develop guidelines for user interfaces that should not be constrained by narrow assumptions about user location, language, systems training or physical capability. Factors such as linguistics, customer physical infirmities (visual acuity, ability to use keyboard/mouse) and proficiency in the use of technology have broad ramifications in determining the ease-of-use of an application.