October 2009 Archives
A year ago, OIT participated in a Climate Survey, which enabled us to understand employee perceptions of the work environment across OIT. We assembled a Climate Action Team and charged the team to investigate several areas revealed by the survey, and provide recommendations to improve the climate across OIT. A crucial step in the team's process was to seek additional insights beyond the survey data directly from OIT employees through focus groups and other feedback mechanisms.
In the last year, the Climate Action Team has been behind several OIT initiatives, such as mentoring and co-coaching programs, and provided input on management best practices and performance reviews. This week, the Climate Action Team presented a final report to OIT senior management. The Climate Action Team met the goals set for it, and clearly identified the issues OIT will face going forward until the results of the next survey. The OIT senior management will take those tasks on.
The report can be found on the OIT Internal Wiki under "Climate Survey", the first document listed - Climate_Team_Status_20091021.docx
Thanks to everyone who participated in the OIT Climate Action Team. The current members include Alexandra Ryan, Alina Rimbu, Alyssa Peterson, Brittany Lloyd, Garfield Bowen, Heather Rafshol, Jacqueline Campbell, Jim Hall, Kathryn Olson, Leah Cunningham, Louis Hammond, Maria Binder, Nishat Shaikh, Steve Carnes, Steven Nguyen, Victoria Sheehan.
I wanted to share this email from John Butler (Library) to Steve and Ann, about OIT's help in the 10/24 shutdown. Congratulations, all!
I wish to take a moment to commend highly the extraordinary efforts and high level of collaboration provided by the following OIT staff during this past weekend's data center outage and the weeks of planning that led up to it: Bob Baker, Pragati Tripathi, Dack Anderson, Patton Fast, Douglas Lochowski-Haney, and Alina Rimbu.
The attention and creative problem-solving that these staff provided alongside Libraries IT staff in the effort to keep critical library services running throughout the outage was admirable. We are sincerely grateful for their great service and dedication to Libraries operations.
This weekend, we executed the generator cutover that has been in planning since May. Everything in the WBOB data center had to be shut off starting at 7:00am for the team of electricians to do their work, and it was an all-day job. Since we were expecting to be offline for so long, we also built into the schedule a Disaster Recovery test of PeopleSoft, using our alternate facilities.
I want to take a moment to thank everyone who participated in either of these activities, particularly the Systems Administration team and Storage team - both teams worked during the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday to do the shutdown and startup. Also the Production Services team, which managed the scheduling and monitoring tasks for the weekend. But everyone put in a great deal of effort in planning and preparing for this outage and DR test.
And it showed. We reported to OIT senior management that the test was a success. On Saturday, AAS was able to validate the technical availability of the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions / HR and Financial Systems. Autosys, a secondary objective supporting automated job scheduling was unsuccessful but a resolution of the problem has been identified.
In addition, we helped other OIT teams and certain customers to fail over their systems to alternate facilities, so they could remain up throughout the weekend: Library's Aleph and SFX, WebVista, Moodle, MyU. This was an important job for OIT, as it meant minimizing the impact to the University during the data center outage. Thank you!
Just a reminder that this weekend is the generator cutover that we've been waiting for. We are definitely "go" for the weekend's work.
This week, I met with several of you who are going to be doing the hands-on work, either during the shutdown/startup, or for the DR test on Saturday. I believe we are in great shape. Thank you to everyone for putting documentation together, and of course for being so flexible with your schedules.
Saturday 10/24 will be a very long day, to be sure. I'll be here with you in the early morning, and through the DR test in the afternoon. On Saturday evening through the wee hours on Sunday, I will coordinate the startup of storage, servers, and databases - and manage the handoff to the application teams.
See you on Saturday!
We've talked about "One OIT" before, and Steve and Ann made it a topic at the last all-OIT meeting. By now, you may have had a chance to review the "One OIT" set of slides that was distributed via Ann's email.
There's more to the "One OIT" vision than just "who does what". We need to start thinking along the lines of "One OIT". One of you recently gave me some feedback about OIT communication, and I'd like to share:
- "There is more than one helpdesk in OIT, and it is the end user's responsibility to know which one to contact."
- "Communications within OIT is a disjointed effort: 1-HELP, FAST, oiasun vs oitdba ... different and confusing naming conventions affect the customers (this will be a big roadblock for the 3/3 OIT approach)."
- "I'm spending a lot of time by having to track down the person who can help me."
That's from within OIT. Just imagine what the customer must experience! That's why "One OIT" is so important to us.
As we move forward with "One OIT", I urge you to look for ways that we can improve and come together as a single organization. Where you have an opportunity to set up an email list, use "OIT" as the identifier, rather than a departmental name (such as "OIA".) Similarly, avoid referring to your team with a particular brand - for example, the Storage & Backup team stopped using the "UDMS" name a long time ago.
Steve's vision is that we will have reached "One OIT" by the end of this fiscal year - that's July 2010. How can you help us get there?
Jac was one of several people from U of M to attend the CIC TechForum 2009, held at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) this week. From the web site: TechForum is a biennial leadership development opportunity sponsored by the CIC CIOs for their respective IT staffs and others in campus IT organizations. Presentations are selected to demonstrate a broad range of cross-cutting topics in higher education IT, with an emphasis on networking and building relationships with peers from CIC institutions. TechForum's primary target audience is IT staff who demonstrate great promise for future leadership in higher education IT.
Jac gave a presentation on our storage architecture, and our collegiate alignment strategy. I've mentioned this strategy before. The storage strategy allowed us to: Provide a clear roadmap for our storage related services and better define our partnerships with our customers and units such as MSI. Review our in-place technical infrastructure and define our long-term strategy with respect to our storage and backup architecture and storage related services.
Jac's presentation was very well received by the CIC. If you're interested, her slides are available on the OIT internal wiki, along with the slides from others who presented at TechForum.
As you are already aware, OIT is leading an initiative for Google Apps at the U of M. The most significant offering is the Google Mail system, or GMail. Converting to Google means your email will migrate from U of M email servers to Google's GMail servers.
The full list of Google Apps available at the U of M includes: GMail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Talk. Note that Google Calendar is not intended to replace UMCal for staff.
We've started sharing access to certain OIT staff already, and will continue to expand the offering across OIT in the coming weeks.
I converted to GMail last night. One thing I will recommend to anyone who converts to Google Mail: let it run overnight. Don't expect to work on email while the conversion is running. (You may also want to go through your email beforehand, to delete any emails you no longer need. This helps to speed up the migration.)
It worked!! I'm on UMN Google Mail. It's great! I really do find the GMail interface makes it a lot easier for me to quickly sort through all my email, especially because it groups all conversations into a single item (and displays them all at once.) This will make it a lot easier for me to stay up to date.
I'm using the web interface. You can also connect using a regular email client (such as Thunderbird) but you'll need to set up a GMail client password at Dirtools.
Google Apps at the U of M is an opt-in service. You do not need to convert to Google Apps - you will still be able to access your email from the U of M servers, just like normal. However, we encourage those who are willing to make the change - use Google Apps, and give us feedback (via the online survey - you'll get a link to this in your "Welcome to Google Apps" email.)
We've talked before about the data center work planned for October 24, that Al was working with our communications team to get the word out. Several weeks ago, OIT contacted staff and faculty with a reminder of the upcoming outage. This afternoon, another note went out, including a link to the System Status page that contains a detailed list of applications that will be up/down on that day. If anyone contacts you to ask what will be available during October 24, please refer them to the System Status page. Here's the announcement:
At 2 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, many important University IT systems and applications will be unavailable for use, including PeopleSoft Financials, Student Registration, and approximately 1/3 of University e-mail accounts. OIT is working on a plan to keep some of the University's key applications running during this window--particularly those used by students and faculty. All applications supported by OIT are expected to be restored to service by noon on Sunday, Oct. 25.
For more information about this outage, including a list of which systems and applications will be available and which will not, visit https://systemstatus.umn.edu/view/Main/OutageInfo. This site will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.