No new blog post this week. Instead, let me share these favorite blog posts from 2008:
November 2009 Archives
This week, I'd like to share with you an EDUCAUSE article by two people I met through CIC and ITLP: Brad Wheeler is VP for Information Technology and CIO for Indiana University. Shel Waggener is Associate Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO at the University of California- Berkeley.
In their article, Above-Campus Services: Shaping the Promise of Cloud Computing for Higher Education, Shel and Brad address 2 questions that are essential for colleges and universities as they consider the economic benefits of cloud computing and the potential strategic possibilities for above-campus services:
- To what extent should specific IT services be aggregated and why?
- Through what models should IT services be aggregated and governed?
Three models for aggregating IT above-campus services are particularly suited to higher education: Commercial Sourcing, Institutional Sourcing, and Consortium Sourcing. These models seek efficiencies through economies of scale in IT service provision and on-demand IT capacity as needed and seek improvement through a vibrant ecology of innovation - none of which would be accessible within a single institution.
It's a long article, but worth a read if cloud computing interests you.
In the last year, the Climate Action Team has been behind several OIT initiatives, such as mentoring and co-coaching programs. A major challenge that supervisors face is that they haven't done much (if any) coaching.
As part of the Climate Action Team, I've shared documentation and other information about how to do coaching - but if you haven't coached before, you may struggle because you don't know what coaching "looks like." I'd like to show good coaching in action.
I have previously talked about Tim Gunn as coach on the show "Project Runway." In the program, budding fashion designers compete to create the best outfit each week, usually over an incredibly tight deadline.
I'm not very interested in fashion, but what draws me to this show is one of the anchors: Tim Gunn. Tim acts as a kind of style mentor, and meets with each designer for a brief coaching session midway through each design challenge. I think Tim makes for an excellent example in coaching.
If you would like to see Tim's coaching in action, I've selected 3 good examples.
Start by visiting the Tim Gunn's Workroom (season 6) video site. Scroll down the page to see clips from each episode - you may need to click the arrows to see all the clips in each episode.
The 3 designers I think would make for good coaching examples are:
- Episode 5 - Johnny Sakalis
- Episode 1 - Ari fish
- Episode 4 - Qristyl Frazier
I picked these because they demonstrate: open-ended questions, probing questions, confidence, encouragement, recognition, understanding ... while avoiding saying "I'd do this". In the end, the "coachee" makes all the decisions.
In particular, I like Johnny's example, as Tim helps him to see his garment from a fresh perspective.
Of course, successful coaching requires participation on both sides. Watch some of the other clips, and you may see some designers who are disengaged from the coaching process - they don't listen to feedback, and they remain fixed in their opinions. The coach's job is to help the other person to reach their own conclusions or to see things in a new light, but if the "coachee" is unwilling to listen, the coaching session will be a waste of time.
Over the weekend, OIT applied a second set of changes to the network load balancer. This is part of an important stabilization project, as the load balancer plays a central role for so many applications, including PeopleSoft. OIT staff from the Networking team and Systems Administrations team have been working together with the vendor (Cisco) to improve the load balancer.
Sunday's changes went very smoothly, due in large part to the extensive planning that we have done over several weeks. I also appreciate that the work team included a backout plan in the workplan, including "snapshots" at several points along the way, so if we experienced problems we could always revert to how things were before making changes.
I'd like to thank Phil Lindberg & Mike Faust (Networking), Tom Kunz & Dack Anderson (Systems Adminstration), Marianna Dobkina (Software Administration), and Patton Fast for their efforts this weekend. And Keith & Gopalan from Cisco.
OIT is part of the campus community, although since we are so far from the main campus it may not feel like it sometimes. So it's always great when OIT can participate in campus activities. Last week, OIT played host to a data center tour for a Carlson School class. Professor Naumann arranged with Joe Z, Jac, and Patton to bring his class into WBOB to demonstrate how OIT manages servers and data for the University of Minnesota. He sent his thanks to Joe, which I hope is ok to post here:
This is to let you and your staff know how valuable the tour and accompanying Q&A sessions were for my students. One of them -- who operates his own small business web design and hosting business -- commented to me that the tour really made infrastructure a reality to him. Jac and Patton were especially helpful, patiently responding to all the students' questions.
IT evolves very quickly. Think back to the early 1990's, when the primary platform was MS-DOS and the mainframe. In a few short years, the IT landscape changed to include Windows95 and the popularization of the World Wide Web (both 1995). In recent years, we've watched more of general computing move into "The Cloud" - think email, storage, applications, video, etc.
Taking another example, remember what "watching TV" meant 10 years ago, before the DVR was commonplace. Or 5 years ago, before you could follow your favorite shows on Hulu or YouTube.
So it's interesting to consider what the IT world will be thinking about in the next year. We may not be able to predict the future, but we can look at what others in higher ed consider to be their top priorities. This gives IT leadership the "tools" necessary to evaluate new technology, to find ways to "fold" new tech into our operations.
Linda (OIT, working in digital media) shared with me this list of EDUCAUSE IT Leadership topics for the next 1 year. I wanted to show you a few of them, in no particular order:
- Risk Management (especially innovation)
- Knowledge of Higher Education
- Management Excellence (decision making, budget)
- Organizational Development (across, no silos)
- Manage data - analytics.
- The Cloud
This should be an interesting year.
Our automated process that opens monthly change tickets for the Windows team should now be working properly. Darby (Production Services) made a change this weekend, tested the process, and everything works as expected. Looks like an update from earlier this year introduced a bug that causes some issues when pulling data from email (using scauto) and assigning that data into variables. Darby created a workaround, as suggested by HP. Congrats on resolving this long running problem!
Earlier this year, we worked on a strategy for improving our storage services for OIT and customers. Part of this strategy included to-dos for the next several years.
One of those action items was simplifying our VSAN configuration. Kudos to the Storage team for their work towards the VSAN consolidation this weekend. We successfully reduced the number of VSAN's in use in our Storage Area Network, on one half of the storage fabric. The other half will be addressed in a few weeks.
We had some problems during the conversion, but I really appreciate that the team stuck to it until we had a resolution. The team is learning from those, so we don't hit that problem when we convert the other half of the fabric. Thanks!
Back in March, I talked about taking vacations and how it was important for your mental health. But it's also important to plan your vacations, so sudden absences don't become disruptive.
Now in November, we are entering the holiday season. As you look ahead on the calendar to late-November, late-December, and New Year's holidays, please think about how you will use your vacation. Discuss your vacation plans in advance with your teammates and your manager, so everyone knows when you will be gone, and for how long.
Vacations are important. At the U, we have a very generous vacation policy, and I encourage everyone to use your vacation wisely.
But when you take a vacation, I encourage you to find ways to separate yourself from work. It's very tempting to check email while on break, to avoid being inundated with email upon your return. But vacations count for little in maintaining our work-life balance if you continue to do "work" things on your holiday time. Enjoy your vacation, you've earned it.
Over the weekend, OIT consolidated several of its email servers. Matt Kauffmann, Steve Siirila, Jeff Williams worked to migrate storage so we could put 3 of the new T5240 servers into production use (amethyst, ruby, and turquoise). The old servers are available for the next stage of system consolidation. Others will follow over the next few weeks. Thanks!
Over the weekend, OIT successfully completed our first change window in stabilizing the load balancer. On Sunday, we cleaned up the global policy and simplified the configuration, successfully tested updates through the administrative interface, and confirmed its functionality. OIT will continue monitoring the state of the ACE load balancer environment over the next few days, and Cisco (the vendor) will be on hand to assist if any issues or questions arise.
The work team included staff from different parts of OIT, including systems administration, networking, and software administration, making this a great example of "One OIT." Thank you to the entire team (Phil Lindberg, Mike Faust, Tom Kunz, Dack Anderson, Patton Fast, Thom Callahan) on a job well done! Not only have they made a significant and measurable step forward having completed the change as planned, but did it well within the change window time frame (advertised as 5:00am to noon, but the team finished around 9:00am.) We appreciate everyone's continued efforts on this improvement project.