IT News

30 Sep

Information Technology Services will be replacing hardware that guarantees an uninterrupted power supply to the Datacenter at One Waterfront Place over two weekends in October.

No outages or downtime are expected for any servers or University systems. However, many mission-critical applications such as eCampus are housed in the Datacenter, and as with any maintenance, there is always a small risk that service could be disrupted.

The first maintenance period will start at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10 and conclude by 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12. The second maintenance will be done during the same hours Oct. 24-26.

Contractors will use both the building generator and an alternate power supply to avoid any outages. Should there be a problem, ITS Communications will inform users on multiple platforms, including social media and text messaging

Campus IT managers should plan to minimize the maintenance and patching workload those two weekends and reschedule if possible.

The Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS is a critical electrical apparatus that stands between the University’s electrical power and all computers, networking and telephone equipment in the Datacenter. The UPS ensures there are no voltage spikes or dips in the 24/7 power supply to expensive and electrically sensitive equipment.

The UPS units at Waterfront are discontinued equipment. They have not been manufactured since 2003, and replacement parts are no longer guaranteed. While the units have been very reliable, they must be replaced now to ensure a robust and supportable datacenter for years to come.

29 Sep

Purchases of software, hardware or consulting services valued at less than $5,000 no longer require review by Procurement, Contracting and Payment Services (PCPS) or prior approval by PCard Administration.

Earlier this fall, Information Technology Services introduced an online pre-approval tool for IT purchases. This tool now also determines whether a PCPS review is needed and generates a notification if one is required. A staff member will then contact the customer about any necessary forms or legal review. Purchasers no longer need to contact PCPS separately to request that Terms and Conditions be reviewed.

PCPS and Information Technology Services have worked together on this change as part of an ongoing effort to provide faster, more efficient service. To submit pre-approval requests, click http://wvu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3xvJ0fsDJJF9sup.

IT approval does NOT replace funding or budget approvals that occur within the unit or the Expert Business Office (EBO). The form generates an email listing approved purchases that the requester should submit with a purchase request or PCard documentation to the EBO.

The ITS Purchasing Tool is also available on the ITS website at http://it.wvu.edu/services/software and on the PCPS site at http://financediv.wvu.edu/home/pcps/procurement/computer-purchasing.

To further streamline IT purchasing, customers can now notify PCPS of purchases that will exceed $5,000 using the same tool. That eliminates a second step for employees. A PCPS staff member will contact the customer to advise whether any additional forms or legal review is required.

The new system also gives IT managers the ability to track what’s being purchased, including through PCards, and spot trends and money-saving opportunities.

Purchases made from the ITS Software Licensing site (http://it.wvu.edu/services/slic/softwarelist) as well as desktops, laptops, and peripherals purchased from previously negotiated contracts, such as Dell, Apple, and CDWG, do not require approval through the new form.

For the latest technology news, follow @wvuoit on Twitter, “like” WVU Information Technology on Facebook or visit its.wvu.edu.

19 Sep

A login page for multiple WVU systems has a new look and is now mobile-friendly. Users accustomed to seeing a blue background began seeing the image below as of Thursday evening.

LogoIn

Although the site may appear different, it will continue to function as a MyID authentication service for the following systems:

• eRS
• eSEI
INVAM
SGA Grants
• Vanderbilt CORES
• Voluntary Benefits
• eCampus
• Enterprise Requests

Please direct questions to the Information Technology Services help desk at itshelp@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-4444.

17 Sep

Information Technology Services staff will hold several help sessions to help faculty members remove course content from the old eCampus before the system goes away Oct. 1 and rebuild it in the new one. The sessions are scheduled for:

Friday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at 221 Hodges Hall;

Monday, Sept. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 221 Hodges Hall;

and Tuesday, Sept. 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. at G16 Evansdale Library.

Information Technology Services converted to the current version of eCampus in December 2013. Any content that remains in the old system and may be required in the future MUST be retrieved by Oct.1.

To access the old system, click here: https://ecampus.wvu.edu/webct/entryPageIns.dowebct Please direct any questions or concerns to ITSHelp@mail.wvu.edu or call (304) 293-4444. If you haven’t used eCampus yet, visit https://ecampus.wvu.edu now. Faculty can find tutorials for eCampus, Blackboard Mobile and Collaborate at http://ecampusinfo.wvu.edu/faculty.

For the current eCampus and Collaborate training dates, please contact the Training group at workshop@mail.wvu.edu.

16 Sep

Office 365 will soon begin automatically deleting email in “Junk Email” and “Deleted Items” folders in all accounts 30 days after the items are placed there. The policy adopted by Information Technology Services will apply to the Morgantown, Potomac State and WVU Institute of Technology campuses.

The Health Sciences Center Office 365 system already uses these policies. This change brings all of WVU into alignment with published Microsoft rules for Office 365.

Users will start to see junk and deleted emails disappearing on Oct. 22. This affects not only messages that arrive after Oct. 22 but any messages that may have accumulated previously in “Junk Email” and “Deleted Items.”

Users who want to retain deleted or junk email should move those messages into other folders or store them elsewhere.

Please direct questions to the ITS Service Desk at itshelp@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-4444.

12 Sep

WVU Police warn students about scam

Joshua | September 12th, 2014

The West Virginia University Police Department is warning students about a scam that uses the employment banks at colleges and universities to attract victims. At least two different front companies with legitimate-sounding names have pretended to employ students when they are in fact attempting to launder money.

In one case, the scammer posted a fake job opportunity as an office assistant on a University web-based career board.

Victims who apply for the jobs are eventually sent a cashier’s check for varying amounts and instructed to purchase “Green Dot Money Pak Cards” or something similar and email the PIN numbers to a supervisor. The scammers assure victims they can keep any leftover funds, but the checks are fraudulent.

If an email offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive a suspicious-sounding email, please forward it to DefendYourData@mail.wvu.edu and Information Technology Services will review it.

If you have any information about this scam, please contact the University Police Department at 304-293-COPS.

12 Sep

Nearly 30 KwikBoost charging stations that will let students and University employees keep their mobile devices fully charged more easily are being deployed across the Morgantown campus in the coming weeks.

Steve Watkins, director of Student Life Information Technology, worked with the Academic IT Leaders Committee to order equipment that students have long wanted. Some charging stations will be wall-mounted, while others are on freestanding pedestals. Each has eight outlets for Apple, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices, and more.

The locations and number of stations are: Libraries, 8; College of Business & Economics, 3; Health Sciences Center, 3; Statler College of Engineering & Mineral Resources, 4; Mountainlair, 5; Towers, Boreman, Stalnaker and Arnold dining halls, 1 apiece; and College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, 1.

The KwikBoost stations are produced in the U.S. and cost about $20,000 total to purchase.

Junior marketing major Anthony Braxton, a Student Government Administration representative from Pittsburgh, has been helping Student Life research various charging stations for months, even looking at some at the University of Arizona while attending a conference.

So what made KwikBoost superior? For starters, it supplies many current and former Big 12 schools. Kansas State has about 15 charging station in its student union, Braxton said, “and they don’t have half the volume we have.” A student representative at Texas Tech told Braxton it was a great company to work with, and he found that to be true.

“In talking to the company, there was never a pressure to buy. It was always, ‘What can we do to help you understand the product?’ There wasn’t a gimmick or pressure or scheme,” Braxton said.

Though he’d expected a hard sell, even follow-up emails were more about sharing information. “It was always, ‘How can we help you?’” Braxton said.

The research also provided real-world experience for his major, letting Braxton bring businesses and customers together to reach a positive result. But he said students will benefit most. No longer will they have to panic when their battery level drops to 15 percent.

11 Sep

Faculty members may now register for Introduction to eCampus and Blackboard Collaborate workshops through Information Technology Services. The workshops begin Friday, Sept. 12 and run though early November. Details and links to register are here: http://it.wvu.edu/services/training/schedule

These sessions are designed for faculty and staff who have not used eCampus or Collaborate and are unfamiliar with the applications.

Instructors who are familiar with eCampus but want help importing content or creating a class should fill out a request form with the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons iDesign group here: http://idesign.wvu.edu/Project/

Meanwhile, the response to online training offered through Lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com/default.aspx) has been overwhelming, and ITS has created a waiting list for additional requests.

The online repository has tens of thousands of courses and video tutorials on commercial products such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud and more. Current WVU employees can request temporary, 30-day access, and as many as 30 people may use the account simultaneously.

Students may be granted access when available, but those licenses are only valid for 14 days to ensure the tool remains available for faculty and staff development, and classroom support.

Users must register at lynda.com within 48 hours of getting the e-mail registration notice. Failure to do so will drop the request to the waiting list. Users may apply for access to Lynda as often as they like. Other details about the program are here: http://it.wvu.edu/services/training/lynda

For the latest on tools, outages and more, follow @wvuoit on Twitter, “like” WVU Information Technology on Facebook or visit http://it.wvu.edu/

10 Sep

Faculty members who have not already moved course content from the old version of eCampus to the new system should do so as soon as possible. This is a reminder that the old system will NOT be available after Oct 1, 2014.

Information Technology Services converted to the current version of eCampus in December 2013, and the number of users jumped 50 percent in just six weeks.

Any content that remains in the old system and may be required in the future MUST be retrieved and rebuilt by Oct.1. To access the old system, click here: https://ecampus.wvu.edu/webct/entryPageIns.dowebct

Please direct any questions or concerns to ITSHelp@mail.wvu.edu or call (304) 293-4444.

If you haven’t used eCampus yet, visit https://ecampus.wvu.edu now. Faculty can find tutorials for eCampus, Blackboard Mobile and Collaborate at http://ecampusinfo.wvu.edu/faculty.

For the current eCampus and Collaborate training dates, please contact the Training group at workshop@mail.wvu.edu.

3 Sep

West Virginia University Research Corp. has won a nearly $487,000 cyberinfrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation for significant upgrades to high-speed, high-volume Internet connections that will benefit University researchers and their work.

The networking grant will help create a science DMZ, or demilitarized zone, which is essentially a secure “express lane” subnetwork for research data traffic within the University’s larger network.

The upgrades in speed and creation of the DMZ will give Information Technology Services the ability to separate research traffic from other Internet traffic, guarantee high-speed Internet2 access for WVU researchers, and facilitate data exchanges with off-campus collaborators. The upgrades also provide WVU researchers with greater access to off-campus resources such as national scientific supercomputing centers.

“This is exciting because it’s giving us the opportunity to provide the infrastructure that the faculty needs,” said Chief Information Officer and Associate Provost John Campbell. “The demand continually grows as the nature of research has become more computational. We’re moving more and more data sets.”

The grant, from the NSF’s Campus Cyberinfrastructure program, will be managed as a collaborative effort of the WVURC, WVU Information Technology Services and the High Performance Computing Center. The award builds on previous investments in a high-performance campus network backbone and will help create high-performance end-to-end connectivity between the campus core and critical scientific and engineering research labs and assets.

More than $91,000 of the award will go toward the development and deployment of a Data Transfer Node, a high-performance data transfer “depot” that will enhance the ability of WVU researchers to move large science data sets.

The connections to the science DMZ will, initially, enable high-performance science data flows to and from: the Neuroscience lab in the Health Sciences Center; the High Performance Computing (HPC) center in the Chemistry Research Lab annex of Clark Hall; the Astrophysics HPC at White Hall; the Life Sciences Genomics Lab, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Lab at Allen Hall; the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank; and WVU’s off-campus Internet2 connection.

Earl Scime, Interim Associate Vice President for Research and principal investigator on the project, said it’s not unusual for astrophysics and neuroscience researchers to work with files that are many, many gigabytes of data, or even a Terabyte.

“Without these improvements, we simply can’t move that kind of data,” he said.

The larger the file, the longer it takes to download. A Terabyte (or 1,000 Gigabytes) of data is roughly equivalent to 300 hours of high-quality video or 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Ten Terabytes could hold the printed collection of the Library of Congress.

Researchers at Green Bank have been forced to put their data on hard drives and physically transport them to Morgantown because the high-speed network between the observatory and WVU didn’t extend to the physics department.
“It’s not making that final leg of the journey,” Scime said. “If it takes 10 hours to download, it’s faster to drive. This will upgrade the final leg of the journey for these very data-intensive research groups.”

In addition to the Data Transfer node, equipment costs to be covered under the grant are:

  • equipment upgrades to the network core
  • network upgrades in the Life Sciences building that will enable the genomics core facilities to connect to the science DMZ
  • network upgrades at White Hall that will facilitate very large scale data flows between the astrophysics lab and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory
  • upgrades to the network connection to the STEM Education Lab
  • extending the reach of the 10 Gb core to the Neuroscience Lab at the Health Sciences Center.

Besides Campbell and Scime, the other co-principal investigators on the project are Assistant Director of Networking Steve Belcher and Don McLaughlin, Research Associate in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

The creation of the DMZ and the underlying core network upgrades lay the foundation for improved data research flows for other WVU lab and scientific facilities in the future. However, Belcher said no additional facilities will be added until the initial upgrades are complete. That should occur by May 2015.

WVURC was created as a not-for-profit corporation in 1985 to foster and support research at West Virginia University, and to provide evaluation, development, patenting, management, and marketing services for inventions of the faculty, staff and students.

The WVURC receives and administers funds awarded by external agencies for research and other activities and is responsible for helping protect intellectual property through patents, copyrights and licensing agreements for start up companies based on University research.