Data Management

Hyperion Update

Hyperion, a reporting software used to access various data sources, has been employed by the University for some time, and the software is at its life’s end. Hyperion will no longer be upgraded by Oracle and University Information Technology Services (ITS) is discouraging any future expansion.

ITS is currently testing a user interface that aims to allow Hyperion to coexist with WebFOCUS, to offer Hyperion in its current configuration for continued use, and allow users to upgrade Internet Explorer to newer versions, facilitating a seamless launch of the Hyperion product.

ITS’ intent is to run WebFOCUS and Hyperion in parallel for a short period of time while reports are migrated from Hyperion to WebFOCUS.

WebFOCUS is a feature rich enterprise business intelligence reporting solution providing advanced query, analysis, content formatting, with a multitude of output mode and device compatibility.

In addition, ITS is developing plans to bring student data (SADM) into the Enterprise Data Warehouse. ITS anticipates the Enterprise Data Warehouse replacement of SADM to use the Oracle delivered solution called EPM, Oracle’s datamart for the University’s PeopleSoft student admin software. This will entail the rewriting of Hyperion reports.

ITS will involve the existing Hyperion user-community in planning as it moves this effort forward. ITS estimates the WebFOCUS reporting tool conversion effort will last another 9 to 18 months.

For more information about Hyperion, please contact the Reporting Services team: Terry McBrien (terrence.mcbrien@uconn.edu) or Michael Long (michael.long@uconn.edu).

This article, by Tim Williams, first appeared in the May 15, 2013 issue of the Project Weeklies newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

 

Enterprise Content Management — FileNet and DataCap

In July 2012, University Information Technology Services (ITS) announced the implementation of the IBM FileNet Enterprise Content Management System (ECM) for the University Senate and the HCM Project.

Since its introduction, ITS is scheduled to implement FileNet and DataCap, both facets of ECM, for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Academic and Business Services, the Graduate School, and the University’s Payroll department in August 2013.

FileNet is a secure and centralized document management system which enables its customers to securely store and retrieve electronic documents. Key features are:

  •  Template-driven add and search capabilities for quick, efficient processing;
  • Searching within documents by content, metadata / Index fields, or both;
  • Document check-out / check-in capabilities with versioning controls;
  • Basic Workflow capabilities (approve/deny);
  • A complete audit trail; and,
  • Product integration with Microsoft Office.

Datacap is a document and electronic file capture solution that front-ends FileNet. It allows customers to essentially “empty file cabinets,” scanning the documents and storing them in FileNet. Datacap’s strengths are:

  •  Fingerprinting to facilitate document recognition and auto indexing to eliminate data entry;
  • OCR/ICR capabilities enabling full text searches based on a word or phrase;
  • Rule based content verification; and,
  • Bulk Import capabilities.

In addition to FileNet and Datacap, ITS plans to introduce IBM Forms to the University in late 2013. IBM Forms use business logic and data to automate business processes. Key features are:

  • Integration with FileNet;
  • Database / Web Service look-up;
  • Fast turnaround for simple / stand-alone forms; and,
  • Surveys / statistics.

For more information and/or a demonstration of ECM, please contact Robert Rowland (robert.rowland@uconn.edu) or at 860-486-9355.

This article, by Tim Williams, first appeared in the April 17, 2013 issue of the Project Weeklies newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

In the Event of an Emergency….

In late October [2012], Hurricane Sandy devastated portions of the Northeast and was one of the costliest hurricanes recorded, second only to Hurricane Katrina. When it reached Storrs, Connecticut, the University treated the hurricane as a serious event and anticipated the worst.

While the University wasn’t adversely affected by the storm, the tempest acted as a real eye-opener for ITS, as it prompted the need for an effective Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plan to ensure adequate levels of communication and data protection for the perceived disaster that was Hurricane Sandy.

In response to the hurricane and to improve disaster response efficacy, ITS is currently in the process of implementing a multi-phased project that will ensure the functioning of the University during times of crises. The project addresses all BC/DR activities such as prevention, protection, response, mitigation, and recovery.

In the event of a minor or catastrophic incident, the proposed project will ensure that all University-sanctioned avenues of communication, such as internet, University email, and the myUConn app will remain functional. The project also will address and support the University’s public safety directives and other protective services that cannot be allowed to fail in the event of a disaster or other unpredictable events. The project also addresses other issues, such as preventing the loss of irreplaceable data that is not backed-up offsite, which would lead to the loss millions of dollars in research and years of work.

Currently, 35 to 50 percent of all University computing, including critical administrative systems, is centralized in the Math Sciences Building Data Center at the Storrs campus, which is in dire need of remediation in order to bring the dated Data Center up to current IT standards (which is currently being addressed through the Data Center Rescue project). In its current state, the Data Center is prone to even minor disasters, and the BC/DR project aims to make suitable back-ups by installing a new, secondary Data Center at a still-to-be-decided location.

Additionally, the project also proposes to establish two active-active critical infrastructure protection sites, which will act as back-ups for critical key systems. One is already established inside the Chemistry building at the Storrs Campus, as it is on its own power grid, and the other is to be installed at the UConn Health Center (UCHC).

The BC/DR plan will be implemented in multiple stages. The first stage consisted of establishing a back-up system at the Chemistry Building. The second stage will consist of establishing a remote site at UCHC, and the third stage will consist of the final establishment of a secondary datacenter.

For any additional questions, please email Victor Font Jr., the ITS BC/DR Coordinator, at victor.font_jr@uconn.edu.

This article, by Tim Williams,  first appeared in the January 9, 2013 issue of Project Weeklies, the newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

 

The Fedora Repository — a New Service for the UConn Community

The University of Connecticut Libraries  (UCL) are building a preservation digital repository service for the UConn community. When the service is available in late-summer 2013, the UConn digital repository will offer long-term archiving and managed storage through its Data Management Services. David Lowe  (dave@uconn.edu) is the Data Management Services Librarian. More information on current data management services is available at: (http://classguides.lib.uconn.edu/content.php?pid=355458&sid=2906883).

Managed storage for faculty will be provided through a self-service management interface that provides tools for data management including:

  • metadata management
  • rules-based discovery and use either locally or externally
  • visualization
  • preservation services (e.g. fixity check, migration, redundancy, versioning)

Staff at the UCL will also work with faculty to develop plans and methods for managing, preserving, and visualizing other types of digital assets that do not fall so neatly into data management services.

The digital repository is being built on the open source Fedora Common  (http://fedora-commons.org) architecture, and uses a number of other open source tools, applications, and services.  Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) was originally developed at Cornell University and the University of Virginia in the late 1990s. Fedora application development is currently managed by Duraspace (http://duraspace.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving scientific and cultural heritage digital assets.

The Fedora repository architecture is currently in production in hundreds of academic, governmental, and cultural organizations around the world. There are more than 15 Fedora implementations in Northeast academic and research institutions, including Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library, Tufts University, and the University of New Hampshire.

This same Fedora infrastructure will also host the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA) at the University of Connecticut.  Funded in part by the Connecticut State Library, the CTDA will provide services to preserve and make available digital assets related to Connecticut and created by Connecticut-based libraries, archives, galleries and museums. Current project participants include in addition to UConn and the State Library, The Connecticut State Data Center, Mystic Seaport Museum, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the Hartford History Center

For more information on the digital repository contact Greg Colati (gregory.colati@uconn.edu) Sr. Director, Archives, Special Collections and Digital Curation.

 

This article, by Tim Williams, first appeared in the January 30, 2013 issue of the Project Weeklies newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

New Features in HuskyCT

The University has upgraded HuskyCT to the latest version of Blackboard Learn™ Service Pack 10, which provides a more user friendly, modern experience for daily users. The upgrade comes with many improved features, along with the introduction of some new ones. An overview of the new features includes:

  • Content Editor: The new Content Editor vastly improves the process of text formatting. Blackboard has also replaced the old math editor with a new mathML equation editor.
  • Assessment Item Analysis: Easily refine assessments by evaluating the quality of questions. Ineffective questions can easily be identified and then quickly corrected with the Automatic Re-grade feature.
  • My Blackboard: Introduces a modern user experience that allows users to easily monitor activity and critical information across all their courses and organizations.
  • New Global Navigation Menu: Always present in the top right corner, the new navigation menu is the entry point to My Blackboard feature and also provides one-click access to users’ Courses, Organizations, Settings, and Blackboard Help.  Additionally, the new menu will notify users how many items in My Blackboard are new or require attention.

 

For further information regarding the HuskyCT update, contact  Hengameh Vosough at hengameh.vosough@uconn.edu

 

This article, by Tim Williams,  first appeared in the January 9, 2013 issue of Project Weeklies, the newsletter of the ITS Project Management Office.

Business Impact Analysis

Information systems are vital elements in most University mission/business functions. Because information system resources are so essential to UConn’s success, it is critical that identified services provided by these systems are able to operate effectively without excessive interruption. Contingency planning supports this requirement by establishing thorough policies, plans, procedures, and technical measures that can enable a system to be recovered as quickly and effectively as possible following a service disruption.

For information systems, effective contingency planning begins with the University’s contingency planning policy and subjection of each information system to a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). This facilitates prioritizing the systems and business processes based on the risk impact level and develops priority recovery strategies for minimizing loss Risk Impact level is determined through a formula that examines three security objectives: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

  1. Confidentiality: A loss of confidentiality is the unauthorized disclosure of information.
  2. Integrity: A loss of integrity is the unauthorized modification or destruction of information.
  3. Availability: A loss of availability is the disruption of access to or use of information or an information system.

Contingency planning considerations and strategies address the impact level of the availability security objective of information systems. Strategies for high-impact information systems consider high-availability and redundancy options in their design. Options may include fully redundant load balanced systems at alternate sites, data mirroring, and offsite database replication. High-availability options are normally expensive to set up, operate, and maintain and should be considered only for those high-impact information systems categorized with a high-availability security objective. Lower-impact information systems may be able to use less expensive contingency options and tolerate longer downtimes for recovery or restoration of data.

Working directly with mission/business process owners, departmental staff, managers, and other stakeholders, ITS estimates the downtime factors for consideration as a result of a disruptive event. The following terms are important for you to know.

  • Maximum Tolerable Downtime (MTD). The MTD represents the total amount of time leaders/managers are willing to accept for a mission/business process outage or disruption and includes all impact considerations.
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO). RTO defines the maximum amount of time that a system resource can remain unavailable before there is an unacceptable impact on other system resources, supported mission/business functions, and the MTD.
  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The RPO represents the point in time, prior to a disruption or system outage, to which mission/business process data must be recovered (given the most recent backup copy of the data) after an outage.

If you don’t know the MTD, RTO, or RPO for your system, perhaps you need a Business Impact Analysis.

For more information, contact: Victor Font, ITS Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery Coordinator at victor.font_jr@uconn.edu

Business Continuity Plans

What happens if something so serious happens, such as a data center fire or flood, that “takes out” the IT systems you’ve come to depend upon for 30 days or longer while the data center is rebuilt?

Does your department have a Business Continuity Plan or Continuity of Operations Plan? How will you maintain operations without access to your IT systems? Here are several different types of non-IT related plans for you to consider for your own department’s resilience program. The plans listed are in alphabetical order and do not imply any order of importance.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

The BCP focuses on sustaining an organization’s mission/business functions during and after a disruption. An example of a mission/business function may be an organization’s payroll process or customer service process. A BCP may be written for mission/business functions within a single business unit or may address the entire organization’s processes.

Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan

COOP focuses on restoring an organization’s mission-essential functions (MEF) at an alternate site and performing those functions for up to 30 days before returning to normal operations. Additional functions, or those at a field office level, may be addressed by a BCP. Minor threats or disruptions that do not require relocation to an alternate site are typically not addressed in a COOP plan.

Crisis Communications Plan (CCP)

The most effective way to provide helpful information and to reduce rumors is to communicate clearly and often. The CCP documents standard procedures for internal and external communications in the event of a disruption. It also prepares the organization for the possibility that during a significant disaster, the organization may be a communication-forwarding point between personnel, civil, state and federal authorities as designated by the Department of Public Safety, and affected families and friends.

Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Plan

Critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) are those components of the University’s infrastructure that are deemed so vital that their loss would have a debilitating effect on the safety, security, economy, and/or health of the University of Connecticut. Protecting and ensuring the resiliency of UConn’s CIKR is essential to the University’s security, public health and safety, economic vitality, and way of life.

Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP)

The OEP outlines first-response procedures for occupants of a facility in the event of a threat or incident to the health and safety of personnel, the environment, or property. Such events include a fire, bomb threat, chemical release, domestic violence in the workplace, or a medical emergency. Shelter-in-place procedures for events requiring personnel to stay inside the building rather than evacuate are also addressed in an OEP.

The best mitigation action is effective planning.

For more information, contact: Victor Font, ITS Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery Coordinator at victor.font_jr@uconn.edu

University IT Names Disaster Recovery Coordinator

A natural disaster. System crashes. Fires. These are examples of occurrences that can threaten daily life and endanger those that work and live on a university campus. Higher education institutions that are well prepared have a plan of action intended to keep the departments functioning after a disruptive event.

The University of Connecticut is making the business of protecting information systems and providing for their continuity and recovery a priority.

“The previous IT disaster recovery plan was developed in 1994.  Not only have our systems changed but so has the complexity of our University,” said Nancy Bull, vice provost for information technology at UConn.

“As we reflect on the impact of a natural disaster in other states on the institutions of higher education, we recognize the importance of a stronger effort at UConn. The impact of Hurricane Katrina on institutions of higher learning in New Orleans was an eye-opener for all of us,” Bull said.

The University has a policy in place that calls for each department to “maintain current, written and tested business continuity plan that addresses the department’s response to unexpected events that disrupt normal business.” The plan will also include disaster recovery (DR) to address maintenance of business processes and services in the event of a disaster and the eventual restoration of normal operations.

To achieve this vision, ITS has appointed Victor Font, Jr. to be the business continuity and disaster recovery coordinator.

“I am enthusiastic to have Victor join our team,” said Jason Pufahl, chief information security officer for the university.

“He clearly understands the scope of the problem and shares our desire to collaborate and address immediate needs while planning a long term strategy,” Pufahl said.

Since the appointment, the DR Steering Committee has been reconstituted and chaired by Font. The formation of work groups to test out the plans are underway,  and an announcement is expected in early November on the location for a new backup data center.

Even before the decision on back-up storage is made, there are activities underway to prepare for the worst. A series of what are known as table-top exercises will begin in mid-November.

“Table-top exercises walk IT staff through the steps of a disaster recovery plan,” said Font.

“It is during these exercises that we can pinpoint the weaknesses and omissions in a disaster plan. You do not want to find them during an actual disaster,” Font said.

IT groups at the University interested in participating on the BC/DR working group should contact Font by phone: 919.604.5828 or email:  victor.font_jr@uconn.edu.