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Information Technology Services Annual Report 2013


UTech made significant progress in serving its constituents during fiscal year 2013 through 60 projects (labor greater than 120 hours or spend of more than or equal to $25,000), 464 simple work requests (labor less than or equal to 120 hours and spend of less than $25,000) and many other smaller initiatives in support of moving teaching, learning and research beyond their customary boundaries. From streamlining university processes with cost-saving improvements to transforming local neighborhoods into testbeds for discovery, UTech connected people with technology-inspired solutions and services.

Linux Migration for Non-ERP Databases

A new operating system upgrade to aged database servers made critical services more flexible and scalable for the staff, faculty and researchers who rely upon them for research and administration of university business.

Move HPC onto KSL Data Center UPS

Six annual service outages were eliminated by changing the power source of the high performance computing system to an uninterruptible power source (UPS). This change gave more than 150 researchers more reliable access to the system and the work they do on it. In the case of an emergency power failure, UPS power prevents the system from shutting down and potentially losing data while a backup power source prepares to engage. The change also created an important foundation for future expansion of the system.

Online Course Action Form

Curriculum changes are a multi-step process involving a series of approvals and technical considerations. With the new Online Course Action Form, faculty and academic support staff spend less time completing the process and get faster results.

Uptown Network

The new, state-of-the-art business and residential Uptown development is a beacon for the University Circle community. With its residents, businesses and the Museum of Contemporary Art now tied into the Case Western Reserve University one-gigabit-per-second high-speed network, computing from the location is as modern as Uptown's architecture. Visitors to Uptown benefit from wireless connectivity to the network, and everyone is safer with Uptown's security cameras using the network to send real-time images of the plaza to security personnel.

Implement Phire Architect

The entire campus community relies on the financial, human resources, student and academic information found in our enterprise research planning systems. Performing maintenance and making improvements to those systems is a delicate process. By implementing Phire Architect, database developers can make those changes quicker and safer; thereby, making the systems more available than ever to the campus.

HCM Application Upgrade/ PeopleTools Upgrade

A stable and reliable enterprise human resources system is essential to running any organization. CWRU relies on its HCM system to protect and maintain its payroll, benefits and employee information. An upgrade to the tool ensured that vendor support for the product continues, and users reap the benefits of an easier-to-navigate system with an enhanced Careers module.

Web Content Management Solution Recommendation & Planning

Websites are essential to the communications and operations of organizations. The domain hosts hundreds of websites managed by dozens of individuals in decentralized offices, departments and organizations. A centrally implemented Web content management system frees up technically talented individuals from entering content on the Web, allows for easier and quicker content changes, and keeps online content fresh, all while helping our Web presence look and feel cohesive. This year, ITS worked with colleagues across the university to investigate and make a recommendation for a content management system.

SolarWinds Implementation

An enterprise IT service monitoring system provides valuable data to technical staff and the university community regarding performance and availability of critical IT services. The information gathered by the monitoring system is invaluable for troubleshooting issues quickly, before they are noticed by customers. It also gives service owners and managers insight into the capacity, performance and availability of the components that support the critical services upon which the university relies.

PowerFAIDS Phase 3

The university's financial aid management system makes it possible to manage the loans, grants and scholarships that students rely upon to attend the university. A multi-phase upgrade to this essential system keeps financial aid processes moving for students, while making the program easier to use and more efficient for the Office of Financial Aid staff.

Rave Implementation Phase 2

In the case of imminent physical danger or weather emergency, the university needs to communicate with more than 20,000 individual community members. The Rave early warning system enables the university to contact the community by phone, email and text message.

Courseware/Lecture Capture

Moving the university's classroom video capture program, MediaVision Courseware, to a cloud solution provides faculty and students with a range of services that exceed what the university could offer through its in-house solution, while freeing up IT resources that can be allocated to other projects. Students and faculty are enthusiastic about its new features.

Siegal College on CWRU Network

When The Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies joined CWRU in July 2012 to create The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, the university made it a priority to virtually link the Siegal building in Beachwood to the rest of the campus. ITS overcame the challenge of providing seamless technology services and support to the Beachwood campus by leveraging its partnership with high-speed Internet provider OneCommunity to create the connection, install classroom technology enhancements and train the Seigal staff on how to use technology resources, such as Adobe Connect and the enterprise human resources system (HCM).

HPC and Visualization Additions

Routine investments by ITS and the use and recommendation of the high performance computing system by current users helps to attract new researchers to CWRU. This year, the system was expanded in computational power, storage and visualization ability to support these researchers in their work.

Slate - SIS Interface for Undergraduate Admissions

Bringing new undergraduate students to the university each year is an undeniable priority, and Enrollment Management stays at the top of recruitment by using the latest technology to manage the applicant pool. ITS provided an important service by coordinating the interface between the recruitment software, Slate, and the university's enterprise Student Information System (SIS). An interface between Slate and SIS allows for applicant information and deposits to be recorded accurately, eliminates the need for manual data entry and duplication, and provides for accurate reporting and reconciliation of data between the two systems.

Standardized Service Documentation

As ITS furthers its efforts to cross-train service owners and bring greater transparency to the operation and management of its services, it creates standardized service documentation to facilitate communication among stakeholders. The documentation also assists in determining whether services are candidates for off-site vendor support and speeds the process of transitioning the service, if necessary. Standards bring more efficiency to the organization as it strives to be lean and efficient.

Judson Telehealth & Wellness

The Judson Manor retirement community in University Circle is playing an integral part in the national priority of improving the quality and reducing the cost of healthcare by becoming the second experimental community in the Case Connection Zone. This latest deployment of high-bandwidth gigabit network fiber to the home enables Judson residents to videoconference with their primary care physician from their homes for routine care, follow-up care and chronic disease management. It is anticipated that this experiment will save senior citizens the time and effort of leaving their residence, while reducing the costs associated with office, emergency room and hospital visits for both patients and the healthcare industry. ITS played a key role in the implementation by designing the videoconference infrastructure, securing the equipment and overseeing its installation.

MediaVision/CASC Integration Phase 2

Continued improvements to MediaVision, the university's onsite digital production group, make it possible for the mission of the university to be shared with the world. Updates include a full-service, industry-standard control room with multi-viewer video monitoring of up to 128 video sources at eight locations, enabling remote broadcasts to occur; a permanent audio console for studio and remote production; and a connection to the global VYVX Broadcast Fiber Services Network. These improvements enable MediaVision to capture video of noteworthy campus experts and events, create industry-standard quality productions and, with VYVX, share them with media outlets throughout the world.

SOM/SIS Admissions Interface

The School of Medicine is known for its impressive curriculum and accomplished graduates. It's fitting that the technology supporting its recruitment efforts be on par. To eliminate the need for duplicate data entry between the school's recruitment software, AMCAS, and the university's enterprise Student Information System (SIS), ITS created an interface that saves staff time and ensures that students get their financial aid packages in a timely manner.

Design FISMA-Compliant Research Environment

CWRU participates in scientific research activities that require compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), a law that ensures research organizations institute appropriate controls to protect the data gathered on individuals who volunteer to be part of scientific research. This year, ITS played a major role in creating a FISMA-compliant research environment that enables CWRU to accomplish its assigned research mission, protect its assets, fulfill its legal and contractual responsibilities, maintain its day-to-day research functions, and protect the privacy and safety of individuals who volunteer. With a FISMA-compliant research data storage environment, CWRU can maintain its reputation as a world-class research institution and continue to obtain research funding needed to make making important discoveries.

TEC Refreshes

Faculty rely on the availability of technology in the classroom to meet course objectives and help create a conducive learning environment for students. ITS makes continual investments into its Technology Enhanced Classrooms program by upgrading the classrooms' computers, lectern controls and peripheral equipment. This year, significant improvements were made to three widely used, auditorium-style classrooms to accommodate the learning needs of even more students.

High Performance Computing Enhancements

With HPC, university students, staff, faculty and alumni perform highly advanced research computation. This year, ITS refreshed the computation nodes of the HPC system with 36 new servers. The continual progression of the system saves time and expands possibilities for current users, while improving the stature of CWRU among other research universities.

WVIZ ideastream Fiber

Fiber optic networking continues to offer the university new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. The latest application of fiber technology links ITS’ MediaVision studios at the Cedar Avenue Service Center with WVIZ/ideastream, Cleveland’s local PBS affiliate. Using an existing OneCommunity fiber line, MediaVision can share prerecorded and live programming with ideastream, both in real time and in high definition.

PCS Mobility Process

ITS streamlined the process of ordering cell phones for university staff, which was found to occupy 10 percent of a full-time employee’s time. ITS alleviated this burden by reducing the manual effort required to order a cell phone as well as digitizing cell phone data. These time-saving measures enable CWRU staff to spend more time working in pursuit of the university's mission and less time managing technology.

Improve Exception Timesheet Approval Process

Department administrators often spend excess time entering and approving entries in HCM’s Exception Timesheets; therefore, ITS created defined steps to reduce the errors and time delays associated with this process. Implementing uniform standards for data entry increases the accuracy of information and decreases the time administrators spend on clerical tasks, which creates more time to work on the priorities of the division.

International Student Services (fsaAtlas) Upgrade

As CWRU continues to solidify its position on the global stage, the university’s technology must expand accordingly. ITS assisted International Student Services (ISS) with upgrading the fsaAtlas international student management software to its current version. The upgrade enables ISS to continue fulfilling the federally-mandated responsibility of reporting exchange visitor information to the government.

ACH Student Refunds

Issuing refunds to students previously required that a paper check be mailed to a home address, which increased the risk of the check being lost or stolen. This year, ITS enabled features of SIS that allow these checks to be direct deposited. As a result, students receive their checks in a timelier, more secure manner, and CWRU controls the costs associated with producing checks.

iThink - MSASS

The university's first completely online degree program, the Masters of Applied Social Sciences program offered by the Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences, was launched this year thanks to a collaboration between ITS and the Office of the Provost. The program leverages an existing education platform to open the degree program to students around the country, which makes geographical barriers obsolete and spreads the teaching and research missions of Case Western Reserve outside of the normal boundaries.


Modern multimedia technology now allows anyone – regardless of their affiliation with the university – to experience learning with CWRU. ITS, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and the iThink Distributed Learning Group, engaged university faculty to host MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) this year. With integrated multimedia support provided by ITS’ MediaVision and partnerships with open learning services, CWRU’s Cleveland-based faculty were able to share their knowledge with a global audience.

Moving responsibility for network support to an outside vendor

ITS strives to offer innovative solutions to the CWRU community. In order to give ITS staff more time to innovate, the division took steps to move the maintenance of the university's one gigabit-per-second network to a vendor that specializes in supporting and maintaining networks of large organizations. An investigation into the possibility found if the maintenance is assumed by a vendor, the time gained by staff will result in the creation of new services and the improvement of existing ones.

ERP as a Service Contract Negotiation

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an essential part of the business operations of Case Western Reserve University. Hosting the systems on campus requires knowledgeable ITS resources to dedicate time and effort to their management and maintenance. To explore the mitigation of these costs, ITS explored the concept of giving the responsibility of hosting ERP to an outside source to determine if the cost and effort required to hand the service to other managers would benefit the capacity of on-campus IT resources.

Data Center Assessment

Managing the university’s data is a service currently completed by ITS, dominating the time of certain division employees. In order to focus on its strategic goal of innovation, ITS assessed moving the operational responsibilities of the CWRU data centers to a vendor. This move would allow ITS staff to focus their efforts on offering new services to the university community while improving existing ones.

Unified Communications as a Managed Service Evaluation

CWRU students, staff and faculty are always on the move, yet the university’s desk phones are not. In order to support the mobility of the CWRU community, ITS assessed solutions for unifying campus telecommunications. This service would provide premier telecommunications across devices, reduce the complexity associated with multiple phone plans and control excess costs.

Learning Spaces

Today’s technology has changed how students learn, but it is time for the classroom to adapt. This year, ITS in partnership with the Office of the Provost started a $1 million project to repurpose two campus classrooms as 21st-century learning spaces. The new environments will accommodate new teaching styles that emphasize active collaboration, as well as feature academic technologies and furnishings conducive to collaborative learning. ITS and the Office of the Provost also sponsored the first Active Learning Fellowship, which will assist interested faculty in re-designing a semester-long course to take full advantage of the modern learning spaces.

TelePresence on campus

Videoconferencing continues to evolve as a cross-platform communication tool that connects students, teachers and researchers around the world. ITS furthered its videoconferencing efforts this year by installing a new TelePresence unit in Nord Hall. This highly advanced technology allows real-time, high-definition communication to occur between collaborators, regardless of time zone and geographic obstacles. It also offers students the opportunity to interact with peers around the world, whether for conversing in a foreign language or discussing a topic of mutual interest.

Software Center download requests

The Software Center is an important, cost-saving service provided to faculty, students and staff. To make the service even easier to use, the division invested time into transforming one of the manual, behind-the-scenes processes completed by a full-time ITS resource into a much quicker, more efficient process handled by the ITS Service Desk. The previous manual process occurred only during business hours and could take from 14 to 62 hours, depending on resource availability. By transferring responsibility for administering software download requests to the 24/7/365 ITS Service Desk, customers wait approximately one to two hours for a response - a vast improvement. Just as importantly, the change creates opportunities for the full-time employees of the Software Center to attend to other priorities of the division.

Six Sigma improvements in division

The division has engaged its employees in Six Sigma Lean yellow belt training in an effort to update the business processes of the organization and streamline and increase divisional capacity and productivity. Employees were tasked with finding processes to improve and, with the help of the division's green and black belts, transform normal operating procedure into a leaner, more efficient process.

Faculty engagement leaders encourage technology innovation

As students’ expectations and academic curriculums evolve, the role of technology in the classroom continues to change. From helping instructors choose the right technologies for their classes to providing personalized support throughout a semester, our two faculty support and academic technology leaders enabled faculty to move their teaching, learning and research beyond the usual boundaries. In addition to faculty members, the co-leaders worked directly with deans, chief technology officers and ancillary academic personnel to develop discipline-specific support plans. In order to conduct targeted outreach to students, the division created and implemented the role of student engagement leader. During the fall and spring semesters, this undergraduate student routinely met with student leadership about academic technology-related issues, represented the student voice in project meetings and coordinated the Undergraduate Academic Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC). ATAC offered students a forum to communicate feedback to the division while enabling ITS to better understand students’ use of technology at CWRU.

MediaVision accomplishments

MediaVision, the ITS on-campus digital production group, is called upon by the university to capture video and create digital productions for important campus events and initiatives. In addition to its traditional support of major events, such as commencement and the opening of the Uptown district, MediaVision has branched into new forms of production, including digital magazine development and Web design.

CDI Award

The provider of the 24/7/365 ITS Service Desk, CDI IT Solutions, was named 2013 Outsourcer of the Year by HDI, the professional association and certification body for the technical service and support industry. CDI received this award due to its commitment to excellence, efficiency and service quality based on the HDI Support Center Standard. HDI is the world's largest membership association for IT service and support professionals. The ITS Service Desk routinely receives approximately 3,500 requests for help each month. It reaches and exceeds its service-level agreements by answering calls to 216.368.HELP (4357) within 20 seconds, resolving 80 percent of problems on the first call and maintaining a 4.5/5 customer satisfaction rate.


The Global Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Education Network (RENEW) launched this past year leveraging ITS services MediaVision and the Adobe Connect meeting platform. RENEW is an online education opportunity from the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and the Translational Research in Regenerative Medicine grant. It connects stem cell and regenerative medicine centers, researchers and students to promote premium educational and research opportunities worldwide. MediaVision recorded the presentations of local faculty and posted the videos to Adobe Connect, where scholars across the world could meet and discuss the material.

Network Operations Center

Working with strategic partner and supplier of the 24/7 ITS Service Desk, CDI IT Solutions, a 24/7 network operations center (NOC) was established to monitor the health of critical technology services and infrastructure. This significant improvement, enabled in part by the installation of the SolarWinds enterprise monitoring platform, gives ITS the ability to identify service status trends and performance, and quickly resolve potential service interruption issues before customers notice an impact. The establishment of the NOC represents the ongoing maturation of ITS service management capabilities as we provide robust information technology solutions and services to the campus community and strive to keep services available 99.95% of the time.

Google Fall Harvest Event

The Google Apps for Education suite of services, available to all faculty, staff and students, are more than just email, calendar and other Web applications. To demonstrate how these services can be expanded for use in the classroom, ITS sponsored the Google Fall Harvest event for faculty. Workshops demonstrated how apps such as Google Sites, Docs, YouTube, Blogger and others can be used by faculty for collaboration and course facilitation.

Platinum Service Agreements

ITS deskside support services are essential to the continued successful use of technology on campus. All faculty, staff and students have access to the technology support professionals found in our on-campus ITS CARE Centers and the 24/7/365 ITS Service Desk, which can be reached by online chat, email and phone. Standard service-level agreements ensure that everyone's concerns are met in a timely manner that meets or exceeds industry standards for service desk operation. To supplement this service, several campus operating units have chosen to purchase an additional platinum-level service agreement, which guarantees even faster response to critical technology concerns and dedicated support personnel.

ITS also leveraged online resources to make required training more convenient for university staff and faculty members. The organization broadened the connection between these audiences and the training they require by bringing components of the Case Western Reserve Administrative Professional Series (CAPS) to the Internet. ITS created online versions of two CAPS courses: Financial Journals and Financial Cashiering. With the online availability of these popular courses, interested staff members could take classes at their convenience rather than attend scheduled sessions on campus.

Adobe Connect sessions

The division leveraged MediaVision’s high-definition video recording capabilities and Adobe Connect to present 10 training sessions live from the MediaVision studios at the Cedar Avenue Service Center. From exploring new features of Google Mail and Calendar to offering a comprehensive tour of SlideRocket, the live ITS Connect sessions appealed to a wide range of skill sets across the Case Western Reserve community and garnered more than 700 views.
The availability of ITS Connect sessions on the Case Western Reserve YouTube channel achieved an international audience, as well. The School Board of Sorel-Tracy, a city in southwest Quebec, Canada, incorporated ITS Connect: Using Google Forms as part of a broader training series for 450 district teachers surrounding classroom technology.

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