The Years Ahead
Strengthening our University through Collaboration
UITS and the IT governance structures that wrap around it are designed from the ground up to support and sustain University-wide collaboration. The shared services model is the hallmark of how UITS conducts business and supports campus constituents. A key challenge for UITS in the years to come is improving all aspects of the collaborative services model. New approaches and new support technologies are required to support effective campus participation in enterprise projects while at the same time reducing project overhead.
During the coming year, UITS plans to unveil enterprise-caliber collaboration tools. Starting in early 2008, UITS as a department will pilot Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. The upgraded SharePoint application will yield a substantially more robust environment, improved tools for managing content and processes, and support better internal and external communications and information flow. UITS also plans to roll out instant messaging (IM) services that are secure and enterprise class. On an informal basis, IM has already become a key tool in the UITS communications portfolio; it is essential that it be better integrated and secured.
UITS also anticipates an increased usage of video conferencing in support of collaborative projects. IP video conference can be a cost effective adjunct to face-to-face meetings, whether point-to-point, multipoint, room-based, or desktop-based.
Support of high performance computing for advanced scientific and medical research is a growing interest across the five University campuses. Given that advancing research is one of the Board of Trustees Strategic Priorities, UITS expects to provide leadership and support to the campuses in helping to develop a collaborative framework for high performance research computing. This is an area deserving of our best efforts given the clear linkage to the University's reputation and the Commonwealth's economic development.
Providing Advancements in Enterprise Applications
The University with UITS in close support has embarked upon a new wave of enterprise application implementations and upgrades. Coming on the heels of a successful upgrade in FY2007 of the University's Financial application, UITS is embarking in FY2008 on an upgrade to release 9.0 of its Human Capital Management (HCM) application. Much more than a technical upgrade, the HCM project promises to usher in a new generation of web-based self-service capabilities in support of all University employees, a user base population approaching in excess of over 33,500 people.
A recurrent theme in the enterprise applications upgrades is how to use these projects to bring about transformative improvements in business processes. That makes these initiatives much more than "IT" projects and provides all who are engaged with an exciting opportunity to improve how the University conducts its business and supports its students, faculty, and staff.
UITS, working closely with campus representatives, also will be moving ahead in FY2008 with substantial initiatives in Identity Management (IdM) and enterprise Business Intelligence (BI). IdM will provide a middleware layer of infrastructure that allows users to authenticate themselves in a consistent and secure manner and gain access to the services and data to which their role entitles them. Once in place, IdM will move the University's user community a giant step closer to the goal of single sign-on. The BI initiative responds to a persistent call from a broad array of users to provide better structured access to timely and actionable information from our enterprise applications with tools that are flexible, user-friendly, and geared to fostering analysis and decision making, not simply reporting.
UITS is also collaborating with representatives from all five campuses and the UMass Foundation on the development of an enterprise Institutional Advancement application. To this point, there have been five very distinct advancement (or development) systems along with a separate system for the UMass Foundation. This initiative, sanctioned by the Board of Trustees, will bring these systems together to better support the University's fundraising activities. For UITS, this will mean the building of a brand new Institutional Advancement application team during FY2008.
Later in FY2008, it is anticipated that UITS will work with representatives from the Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses on the upgrade of the current "Integrated Student Information System" (ISIS) to version 9.0 of Enterprise Campus Solutions. It is also envisioned that the Worcester campus will join the other three campuses as part of the multi-campus student systems collaborative.
Desktop hardware and software updates
In support of the President's Office as a business unit, UITS will lead the upgrade from Microsoft Office 2003 to MS Office 2007. This upgrade process will be closely coupled with planning processes for upgrading President's Office users to the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. Taken collectively, these upgrades along with the aforementioned upgrade of the SharePoint environment will provide users with a more secure and better integrated platform on which to carry out their daily business requirements.