EMPOWERING LEGENDS

A Letter from the CIO

Exceptional IT Services in Support of the UA Strategic Plan

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) team is committed to providing technology services that support teaching, research and service at The University of Alabama. The University of Alabama is where legends are made. It is our mission at OIT to empower legends and advance the University forward with innovative technology solutions. Along with providing what’s new in IT, it is also our core mission to provide reliable IT services to our campus. 

Over the past six months, OIT has worked with students, faculty and staff to identify strategic goals and objectives for the future of technology at UA. Our staff conducted interviews, focus groups, surveys and truly experienced the essence of community that makes The University of Alabama the Capstone of Higher Education.

We also conducted an internal review of our organization to learn how we can establish OIT as a great place to work. Through the feedback our teams received, OIT leadership established the following goals and objectives for our organization. Achieving these goals will position The University of Alabama to meet and exceed its strategic goals. 

Roll Tide!
John P. McGowan, Ph. D.
Vice Provost and CIO

Our Vision

The Office of Information Technology will be a collaborative community of IT professionals that serves The University of Alabama’s students, faculty and staff with innovative and reliable technology resources. 

Our Mission

It is our mission to advance research, teaching, learning and operations at The University of Alabama by providing exceptional technology services and support to students, faculty and staff.

Our Values

  • We are the trusted provider of reliable IT services for the campus community. 
  • We provide outstanding service to our customers.
  • We promote cross team collaboration within our organization and with the broader IT community.
  • We empower our employees to create innovative solutions and accomplish goals that support the organization’s mission.
  • We create an open and honest environment, respecting the knowledge and expertise of OIT team members at all levels of the organization. 
  • We foster an environment of continuous process improvement and we embrace new ideas.
  • We embrace and drive change that benefits our customers.
  • We cultivate a positive, one-team culture.

UniversityGoals

  1. Provide a premier undergraduate and graduate education that offers a global perspective and is characterized by outstanding teaching, high-quality scholarship and distinctive curricular and co-curricular programs.
  2. Increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research, scholarship and creative activities that impact economic and societal development.
  3. Enrich our learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body.
  4. Provide opportunities and resources that facilitate work-life balance and enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding staff.

OIT in Support of the UA Strategic Plan

To deliver the campus community exceptional IT services, OIT aligns its goals with the institutional goals established by UA President Dr. Stuart Bell.  OIT will focus on enhancing and supporting the core areas of teaching and learning, research, security and risk, enterprise architecture, user experience, and community and collaboration. In setting our organization’s goals, we will ensure that OIT’s strategies and plans support the University’s goals and success.

Teaching & Learning

Support students and faculty with instructional technologies and services to ensure successful undergraduate and graduate learning experiences at The University of Alabama. 

Research

Provide IT resources and personnel to support and increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research.  

Security & Risk

Secure and protect the University’s technology assets and the campus community through dynamic cybersecurity practices.

Enterprise Architecture

Establish effective procedures, processes and services as the foundation for University student, faculty and staff technology use.

User Experience

Establish a consistent and reliable user experience for OIT services, tools and technologies.

Community & Collaboration

Encourage engagement within OIT to foster an inclusive and team-oriented work environment, while building community between OIT and students, faculty and staff to understand and meet technology needs.


TEACHING & LEARNING

Support students and faculty with instructional technologies and services to ensure successful undergraduate and graduate learning experiences at The University of Alabama. 


Goal 1: Implement innovative technology solutions for classroom, lab and mobile use.

Objectives:

  • Implement virtual desktop infrastructure in classrooms and computer labs to efficiently deliver software and applications in classroom and lab environments.  
  • Continue to enhance the campus network to support emerging pedagogical applications such as 4K streaming video.
  • Support mobile apps and platforms offered in conjunction with enterprise instructional technologies.
  • Provide integrated learning management system (LMS) tools in support of innovative pedagogy.

Goal 2: Create a consistent and reliable instructional technology experience for students and instructors.

Objectives:

  • Update classroom instructional technology from analog to digital infrastructure.
  • Enhance reliability through improved structured preventative maintenance.
  • Provide LMS course templates and tool set recommendations for instructors to establish consistent online classroom experiences.

Goal 3:  Provide software and best practices information to help students, faculty and staff accomplish goals.

Objectives:

  • Embrace campus mobility through new virtual clients, cloud hosting and cloud applications.
  • Provide essential software to students, faculty and staff.
  • Provide access to software tutorials and support through enterprise technology partnerships.

Goal 4: Support faculty in standard and alternative classroom technologies.

Objectives:

  • Provide instructional video tools, tutorials and workshops for supported enterprise applications and classroom technologies, as well as the development of innovative course content.
  • Establish and support communities of practice for niche instructional technologies including podcasting and gamification.
  • Encourage classroom collaboration through group messaging platforms and applications.
  • Increase first-call resolution for faculty by providing tools, training and relevant documentation to employees in a support role.
  • Expand internal documentation/knowledgebase for support of enterprise applications and classroom technologies.
  • Evaluate tools available to instructional technology support staff and investigate additional support mechanisms including online chat.

Goal 5:  Evaluate effectiveness of IT services for teaching and learning.

Objectives:

  • Support technology decision-making by providing analytics and dashboards showcasing instructional technology use.
  • Evaluate all enterprise instructional technology solutions and maintain knowledge of market to make best decision for the campus.
  • Regularly ask for student and faculty feedback on instructional technology services and applications.

RESEARCH

Provide IT resources and personnel to support and increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research. 

Goal 1:  Expand high performance computing (HPC) resources for faculty and student researchers to increase research productivity and impact.

Objectives:

  • Implement UA’s next generation HPC and research storage environments.
  • Facilitate researcher access to cloud-based research computing and data storage resources.
  • Expand the University’s capacity to accommodate HPC growth.

Goal 2: Expand HPC support to facilitate research growth at UA. 

Objectives:

  • Provide HPC application specialist support.
  • Cultivate the UA research computing community of practice to increase awareness of available resources and help drive technology roadmaps.
  • Expand technology training and education opportunities for UA faculty and student researchers.
  • Provide timely research technology resource information and consultation in support of grant processes.

Goal 3: Enhance network resources in support of research innovation.

Objectives:

  • Upgrade network core infrastructure to 40G capability in support of increasing research data demands.
  • Prepare UA’s network for 100G capabilities in support of faculty use of XSEDE, Internet 2 and other national research resources and services.
  • Offer network programmability services for research applications.

Goal 4: Partner with Office of Research and Economic Development to understand needs of research community.

Objectives:

  • Foster partnership between IT and research community through regular meetings between research and IT leadership.
  • Cultivate a research technology forum from research computing community of practice to enact change and provide direction for research computing at UA.

Goal 5: Ensure a secure environment for research at UA.

Objectives:

  • Assist with monitoring and review of security in research environments, ensuring proper security protocols are maintained.
  • Utilize compliant, secure cloud resources to meet information systems needs of researchers.
  • Provide protected researching tools secured physically and in the cloud.

SECURITY & RISK

Secure and protect the University’s technology assets and the campus community through dynamic cybersecurity practices.

Goal 1:  Integrate students into OIT security processes.

Objectives:

  • Partner with colleges to develop a student-run Security Operations Center (SOC), employing students to actively work and develop cybersecurity skills through undergraduate studies.
  • Provide student cybersecurity internships, investing in students with an interest in cybersecurity.


Goal 2:  Provide end-user security awareness training to the UA community.

Objectives:

  • Partner with UA Human Resources to offer online cybersecurity awareness training for faculty and staff through the University’s HR learning management system.
  • Partner with Student Life to offer online cybersecurity awareness training for all UA students.
  • Provide face-to-face cybersecurity awareness training for faculty and staff in departmental and divisional meetings, and for students in classroom presentations.
  • Continue security outreach to community by presenting to external organizations including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Goal 3:  Maintain compliance with state, federal and business regulations.

Objectives:

  • Remain accountable to requirements and policies while ensuring preparation for quick reactions to new regulatory requirements.
  • Implement mobile device management as required by regulation or risk mitigation.
  • Improve compliance tracking with regulations; establish and regularly monitor controls.
  • Establish an IT compliance team to prioritize and support compliance initiatives.
  • Support UA’s Compliance, Ethics and Regulatory Affairs department in the implementation of privacy, security and third-party risk programs.
  • Improve cybersecurity policies for the University.

Goal 4:  Reduce operational risk.

Objectives:

  • Improve threat management by constantly evaluating threat intelligence.
  • Improve data analysis and correlation of University data through security information and event management tools to help identify threats.
  • Implement data loss prevention capabilities, monitoring for transmission of sensitive data.
  • Regularly test for security weaknesses through internal processes and external resources.
  • Introduce vendor and supply chain security reviews through tools and practices.
  • Monitor and enhance data governance processes by working closely with UA data stewards to determine best practices.

Goal 5:  Implement innovative security technologies and end-user security tools.

Objectives:

  • Manage and creatively increase capacity of base security infrastructure.
  • Implement and manage cloud security services used by students, faculty and staff.
  • Provide next-gen business continuity and disaster recovery infrastructure for core OIT security services and hosted security data and applications.
  • Pursue biometric authentication options to provide a better end user experience and improved security.
  • Require multifactor authentication for students, faculty and staff at UA. 
  • Assess the use of certificates and RF capabilities for authentication with the UA Action Card environment.  

Goal 6:  Improve incident response procedures and processes.   

Objectives:

  • Establish and continually maintain playbooks for incident response events.
  • Partner with campus entities to establish breach incident management procedures for all significant threats including specific required procedures for state, industry and federally regulated data such as medical information, financial account information, personally identifiable information scenarios.
  • Regularly perform table-top exercises with campus partners involved in breach incidents, and work to improve processes after test scenarios.
  • Utilize incident and breach management tools to aid in more effective documentation and notification.

ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE

Establish effective procedures, processes and services as the foundation for University student, faculty and staff technology use.

Goal 1: Provide next-generation on-premise and cloud-based application and data hosting. Objectives:

  • Evaluate appropriate hosting environments for development, test and production applications and services.
  • Implement and support cloud-based solutions for enterprise storage, software as a service, and collaborative user environments and client applications.
  • Update data center infrastructure to meet on-premise hosting needs, and consolidate, replace, or retire legacy data storage, backup and recovery technologies.
  • Evaluate the University’s best practice for business continuity and disaster recovery plans, and integrate cloud-based solutions into planning strategies.

Goal 2:  Identify areas to improve efficiencies, unifying and consolidating IT services where necessary.

Objectives:

  • Consolidate UA’s multiple email environments and enterprise collaboration tools to provide a single, unified platform for students, faculty and staff.
  • Centralize IT resources and establish Consultants in Residents (CIRs) within supported business units to most efficiently and effectively serve the campus community.
  • Leverage campus partnerships and reduce project and operational costs by developing strategies to provide consolidated services and solutions to the campus community.
  • Offer additional telephony options such as softphones and mobile phone integrations.
  • Leverage technology to create efficiencies through business process improvement and automation.
  • Continually review emerging technologies to support digital transformation opportunities.

Goal 3:  Establish campus user management rules and policies.

Objectives:

  • Establish an OIT access and identity management team to better regulate user access to systems, applications and services.
  • Identify services that could leverage a central authentication system.
  • Evaluate current identity management tools and federated services.

Goal 4:  Provide skills and services in support of data analytics/business intelligence (BI) initiatives across the campus community.

Objectives:

  • Partner with UA’s Office of Compliance, Ethics and Regulatory Affairs to document data elements, data mapping, risk and opportunities.
  • Increase knowledge and expertise of data analytics/BI concepts and techniques among OIT staff and the campus community.
  • Offer skilled OIT resources to support data analytics/BI initiates.
  • Identify enterprise level analytics and reporting tools to support campus initiatives.

USEREXPERIENCE

Establish a consistent and reliable user experience for OIT services, tools and technologies.


 Goal 1:  Ensure all campus technology users have access to a functional and accessible technology experience.

Objectives:

  • Train campus content creators on best practices for generating accessible digital content.
  • Offer assistive technologies providing users the ability to access content.
  • Maintain a campus technology and website inventory, including technology accessibility status.
  • Conduct site audits and share evaluation reports with technology accessibility liaisons.
  • Facilitate captioning and/or transcription.

Goal 2:  Improve customer service by better equipping IT Service Desk (ITSD) to solve problems.

Objectives:

  • Increase first-call resolution for students, faculty and staff by providing tools, training and relevant documentation to ITSD employees. 
  • Expand internal documentation/knowledgebase and increase customer-facing tutorials, how-to articles and videos.
  • Evaluate tools available to ITSD and investigate additional support mechanisms including online chat.
  • Formalize service level expectations for ticket resolution or escalation, and standardize service levels and tools across various OIT service and help desks.
  • Publicize available software and ensure ITSD is aware of what technologies are available to campus constituent groups.

Goal 3: Provide timely and reliable desktop and infrastructure support services.

Objectives:

  • Leverage purchasing power with other campus IT groups, ensuring best price and product possible.
  • Ensure supported computers are running appropriate operating systems and software.
  • Evaluate function and adoption of remote support tools.
  • Evaluate tools available to infrastructure support services.

Goal 4:  Create and maintain a consistent project management process.

  • Establish a project management review process to determine project priorities by reviewing project criticality, project impact to strategic goals and objectives, project alternatives and OIT resource availability.  
  • Provide centralized coordination and reporting of scope, change, cost, risk and quality across all projects.
  • Increase project communication and collaboration with project stakeholders, project team members and OIT leadership.  

Goal 5:  Enhance faculty, student and staff experience of network performance.

Objectives:

  • Migrate campus to Eduroam federated Wi-Fi in support of student and researcher mobility.
  • Deploy wireless infrastructure that supports 802.11ax clients and prepare networks for increased integration with cloud-based data and application hosting services.
  • Implement next-generation monitoring tools and data analytics for effective and efficient network management.
  • Provide cost-effective and timely network designs for campus construction projects.

COMMUNITY & COLLABORATION

Encourage engagement within OIT to foster an inclusive and team-oriented work environment, while building community among OIT and students, faculty and staff to understand and meet technology needs.

Goal 1:  Establish an environment where employee collaboration and teamwork are encouraged.

Objectives:

  • Promote cross-team collaboration, leveraging skills across the organization.
  • Empower managers by including them in organizational decision making and leadership processes.
  • Host organization-wide meetings where the organization’s vision, mission and values are clearly expressed.
  • Support continuing education, training and resources for staff to be aware of and to implement cutting-edge new technologies.

Goal 2: Develop and invest in OIT team members to recruit and retain outstanding staff.  

  • Provide opportunities and resources that facilitate work-life balance.
  • Offer performance development processes to build successful employees and encourage lifelong learning.
  • Provide training opportunities for OIT employees in technology and also in soft skills such as teamwork, management and leadership.

Goal 3:  Facilitate community among OIT and students, faculty and staff.

Objectives:

  • Develop the student IT forum, creating an open environment for students to share information.
  • Foster relationships with faculty, working with Faculty Senate liaisons and other faculty-centric committees such as the Technology and Learning Committee.
  • Empower OIT employees as brand advocates, regularly building relationships with campus partners.
  • Establish regular and consistent channels for customer feedback.

Goal 4:  Cultivate relationships within the IT community at UA.

Objectives:

  • Foster relationships through the IT Forum, a monthly meeting of campus IT administrators.
  • Encourage OIT employees to participate in various communities of practice across the University.
  • Host events with campus partners and vendors to bring the UA IT community together.

Goal 5:  Increase awareness of IT services and inform customers of what’s next in IT.

Objectives:

  • Educate the campus community on OIT services, software and support offerings through interactive events and workshops.
  • Provide more content, and better organization of content, on the OIT website for students, faculty and staff to readily find information.
  • Partner with on campus resources to reach students, faculty and staff and share service information.
  • Provide IT technology roadmaps to the UA community.
  • Deliver timely information on IT updates and availabilities.