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2011 Year-End Project Updates

December 16, 2011

Here are quick year-end updates on some key Information Technology Services (ITS) projects:

    • Central Data Storage – After concluding the evaluation phase of the project, including a Request for Proposal, the acquisition of expanded data storage for campus was completed. ITS is now able to provide significant data storage capacity at an economy of scale that will reduce the rate per GB for data storage customers. Currently, user acceptance testing is underway with the expectation that the new bulk storage service will be available to campus during the Spring 2012 Semester.
    • Course & Learning Management System – In March 2011, ITS and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) jointly released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a learning management system (LMS). Based on RFQ responses, a campus-wide review committee selected five possible LMS options. Targeted focus groups, vendor demonstrations, online surveys and one-on-one user interviews provided a variety of data from students, faculty and staff for the project steering committee to consider in making their recommendation. Blackboard and Instructure Canvas were selected as the two vendors qualified to submit to a Request for Proposal (RFP). Scoring of the RFPs revealed very little difference between the two, so the project team recommended a dual award. Additional information about LMS options will be available in early 2012.
    • UTBackup – UTBackup, the new centralized, automatic computer backup solution, launched to campus-wide units this fall, after successful deployments in the College of Education and College of Natural Sciences during the summer semester and a September 2011 implementation in ITS. The new service offers encryption of backed up data before it is stored and flexible deployment options at a reasonable cost. The rollout strategy for UTBackup – which received high praise for its inclusion of many in the university's IT community – was endorsed by the Operational IT Committee. UTBackup addresses the mission-critical need for a faculty and staff computer backup solution.
    • UTmail – UTmail powered by Google was successfully launched to both students and alumni. The new university-branded email service offers a 25 GB inbox, easy-to-use and familiar interface and an email address for life. There are currently 60,000 accounts on the systems; over 20,000 of those are UT Austin alumni.
    • University Data Center – The move into the new University Data Center was successfully completed. Over 800 devices, both customer and ITS-managed, were relocated into the West Hall of the new facility. It took nine carefully orchestrated moves spanning almost a year to achieve this major accomplishment. Building out the East Hall in the new data center has begun and is an IT governance priority for the coming year. Ensuring that colleges and departments are fully aware of this valuable campus resource is also a priority.
    • Virtual Desktops (vDesk) for computer labs on campus – The vDesk initiative entered a new phase of the project focused on creating a cost model that supports long-term sustainability of the service, defining key points for further technology investment and expanding the service to additional customers. Endorsed by IT governance, these goals provide strategic direction to a mature service currently in operation.

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