Vice President for Information Systems
Information Systems (IS) is responsible for ensuring that MIT's information technology (I/T) resources are aligned with the Institute's strategic priorities, and that I/T services are consistent, reliable, easy to use, and operated productively and cost-efficiently.
IS fulfills an essential and vital role in furthering MIT's core missions of education, research, and service by working in partnership with members of the MIT community to apply and help them apply I/T to achieve their mission and reach their goals. This year IS received some 100,000 requests for help and service changes, ranging from upgrading telephone and network service to installing a new office computing environment, to assisting faculty in using computers in their teaching, to supporting major MIT strategic initiatives such as OpenCourseWare (OCW). Faculty, students, and staff in departments, laboratories, and centers interact with IS in obvious ways daily: they call the Computing Help Desk with Macintosh, PC, and UNIX hardware or software questions; or they call the Business Liaison Team (BLT) with questions about business applications. But departments also rely on IS in more intrinsic ways. When anyone at MIT turns on a computer-in an office, in an Athena cluster, in a lab-and sees the network; when someone picks up a telephone receiver and hears dial tone; when someone backs up the documents and data on their computer to the Data Centers in Buildings W91 and W92 or otherwise uses the servers in the data centers, they are interacting with IS.
IS's goal is to provide a world-class information technology environment for MIT's world-class faculty, students and staff. To this end, IS provides "commons" services such as computing help, voice and data network connectivity, data storage, software acquisition and support, and the Athena computing environment. IS's services range from strategic partnerships at the MIT-wide level to operational services and support at the departmental and individual level.
Many of IS's wide range of services are provided at no cost to departments, laboratories, and centers. Others (such as telephone and network services) are provided on a cost-recovery basis or through competitive prices to cover the costs of these resources. Providing the comprehensive I/T services needed at MIT requires considerable resources: physical resources (such as space for staff and equipment including phone closets in departments, laboratories, and centers); human resources (such as staff time for work assignments and for training and retraining); and monetary resources (such as funding for equipment, and software acquisition and renewal).
IS strives to meet client needs by anticipating the future and adjusting the IS organizational framework, as well as its products and services, as necessary to meet the Institute's changing requirements and the ever-increasing use of existing IS products and services. In May 2001, IS realigned its organizational framework in response to client feedback. The intent of this realignment was threefold: to ensure the visible, measurable progress on priority goals; to ensure orderly, timely transfers of work (i.e., handoffs) between IS groups; and to ensure continuous improvements of IS activities and processes. IS's new organizational framework is depicted in Table 1.
In this realigned model, IS has extended its concept of an "I/T Practice" to include I/T architecture and infrastructure planning. A new practice-the Architecture and Infrastructure Practice (A&IP), led by Susan Minai-Azary-joins the Academic and Office Computing Practices to advocate both on behalf of clients to IS, and on behalf of IS to clients to promote and enable innovative technology-based work at MIT. The Discovery Council was introduced to more effectively translate client requirements into the work of IS's I/T Processes-Discovery, Delivery, Service, Support, and Telecommunications and Network Services. (This last process, the I/T Telecommunications and Network Services Process, is another key realignment in the IS organization. This change was made in direct response to customer feedback regarding IS's telecommunications and network service offerings.) The I/T Competency Group (CG) concentrates on the skills dimension of Information Systems, working to provide a staff well qualified to meet both current and future work requirements. CG, the Administrative Business Services Team, and the Office of the Vice President for Information Systems all support the core business of IS.
During FY2001, IS staff achieved an impressive range of accomplishments. We have organized these accomplishments according to the five operational themes-client orientation, collaboration, sustainability, accountability, and professionalism-suggested in the Executive Vice President's Report to the President for 1999-2000.
Table 1. Information Systems Organization Model
Academic Computing Practice
Office Computing Practice
Architecture and Infrastructure Practice
(self managed team of project managers in lieu of a Discovery Director)
Telecommunications and Network Service Process
Competency Group and Administrative Business Services
The shaded area denotes the "Discovery Council."
In his report, the Executive Vice President defined "client orientation" as listening to and understanding the service needs of colleagues in departments, laboratories, and centers, and then working with those colleagues to resolve problems and streamline processes in support of the Institute's primary academic and research mission. Much of IS's work is aligned with this theme as we strive to create clear lines-of-sight between IS service providers and our clients. Key accomplishments within this focus include the following.
In fall 2000, IS conducted a formal, on-line customer satisfaction survey. This survey was a key component of concentrated IS efforts to better assess the needs of our customers in order to sharpen our focus for the future. Almost 600 people-of whom 14 percent were faculty, 42 percent were students, and 44 percent were administrative/support staff-responded to the survey; a detailed report is available at http://web.mit.edu/measures/survey/report/. Based on this client feedback, IS is currently pursuing a series of initiatives to improve its service offerings to the MIT community. These include: delivering 100 Mb/s network service to the desktop; improving our communication with our customers (e.g., improving IS web page content and design, and workshops to build staff competency in communicating with clients); decreasing process time for network and telephone jack installations, and increasing communication about the status of requested jack installations; increasing communication and reducing cycle-time between the public release and MIT availability of supported software; increasing Help Desk/Call Center coverage by staff, reducing telephone time on-hold waiting for a consultant, and increasing the percentage of calls answered; and in addition to decreasing the price for "Tether" remote access connectivity on July 1, 2001, we are also working to identify other off-campus connectivity options for the MIT community.
IS continued to improve its front-line support of the MIT community. During fiscal year 2001, the Computing Help Desk received over 25,000 calls and created 13,400 cases. The average time to answer calls in the fourth quarter was 59 seconds, continuing improvements begun early in the year. At the end of the year, the Help Desk was answering 85 percent of its calls live, a 10 percent increase since the beginning of the year. The Business Liaison Team answered over 5,500 calls from users of enterprise-wide administrative applications. Assistance was provided for 48 software packages. The average time to answer a call was 20 seconds and over 90 percent of the calls were resolved in less than one day. Athena Consulting, User Accounts, and Residential Computing handled over 22,800 cases with over 90 percent accuracy for quality and timeliness. Academic Computing Support provided on-going services to faculty and worked to provide new functionality to Athena users such as support for long-running, compute-intensive jobs and an improved user interface. Web Communication Services answered approximately 2,400 requests for web help and provided about 280 spotlight headlines on the MIT home page. IS Training provided over 400 training sessions involving almost 6,900 MIT clients and received a median satisfaction rating over 4.5 on a five-point scale. Departmental Computing Support had long-term agreements with 16 units on campus representing over 1400 clients during the year and logged over 1100 calls and tasks in support of the units' local technology needs. Adaptive Technology for Information and Computing (ATIC) provided assistance to 235 faculty, students, and staff in need of adaptive technologies, including providing accessibility audits and assisting those with learning disabilities. IS also formally launched the Usability Group, with participating members from IS, the MIT Libraries, FSS, and other departments. The group logged almost 20 activities with a variety of academic and administrative units. Their focus is on end-user design to enhance usability and to integrate human factors principles into enterprise-wide technologies.
IS also continued to sustain many critical, but less visible, services. The W91 Data Center continued to support Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM, formerly ADSM) for desktop backup, currently storing over 20 terabytes of data or almost double that from a year ago. During the past year, teams in the Data Center performed software upgrades for enhanced functionality and reliability, and also selected and began installing an Automated Tape Library to provide 24/7 access and to reduce operator time required for mounting of tapes. The VM Services Team maintained the LISTSERV software and over 1000 mailing lists; mailing list subscribers grew by almost 60 percent to 300,000.
To address specific client feedback, the Transmissions Team in the Service Process and portions of the Computing Help Desk and Departmental Computing Services Teams from the Support Process were reorganized and combined in fiscal year 2001 to create the Voice/Data Installation Services Team (VDIST). This team provides a more comprehensive solution for telecommunications in new construction, renovations, moves, and day-to-day situations. VDIST worked to streamline these processes, including becoming more involved with the billing process and leveraging available assistance from the E19 Site Team. New agreements were established with cabling installation contractors to facilitate the processes for installations of small numbers of jacks and to improve service times for the customers. VDIST was able to reduce turnaround times for network drop activation from an average of eleven days to four days, including installation of any required new jacks.
The Academic Computing Practice (ACP) continued to meet with departments, schools, and centers each semester to communicate about work happening in IS and to learn about the critical technology issues facing departmental faculty. From these "rounds," responses tailored to address faculty concerns were developed. Over the past year, specific targeted solutions included: assigning a Faculty Liaison to provide support to faculty in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in their offices; providing increased faculty consultation and custom tutorials and workshops; developing a technical solution to run "long jobs" (compute-intensive applications) in the Athena environment; and chartering a Wireless Laptop Pilot Project to meet the hardware and software support needs of four MIT Council on Educational Technology (MITCET) projects (TEAL; Teaching Computation in a Studio Setting in Course 1.00; Wireless Portable Computing in the Design Studio; and Portable, Wireless Computing for 2.001/2.005 Students). ACP also continued its annual Athena Renewal program. A total of 231 Athena workstations were deployed in academic year 2001-2002. These included 105 computers deployed in academic departments. In addition, one new residential computing Athena cluster (six machines) was created, and 16 QuickStations were upgraded. In April 2001, the first "Pismere" pilot was rolled-out to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The purpose of this project is to create a scaleable, centrally manageable environment of public Microsoft Windows 2000 workstations. Pismere is an extension to the existing MIT computing infrastructure, and includes a number of features and tools borrowed from Athena. Creating this environment involved extensive modifications and add-ons to Microsoft code and/or procedures in the areas of security and file and system management.
The Office Computing Practice (OCP) also focused on client communication and advocacy. OCP continued to direct and support the work of the Business Liaison Team (BLT), which provides front-line support (including the role of central authorization for SAP and other systems) to users of the Institute's administrative systems. In fiscal year 2001, OCP and ACP jointly chartered and funded the Computing Practices Resource Team (CPR). For OCP, this team provides both hardware and software expertise and deployment to departments across the Institute. This team is often able to quickly resolve high profile problems in a very wide set of circumstances. This year, CPR initiated a "Preventative Maintenance" program geared to departments with little or no technical resources. On a scheduled basis, a member of the team visits the department to assess hardware and software, and then completes all relevant upgrades. This was also the first year of the Software Release Team (SWRT). During its first year, this team established regular, clear communications with the MIT community and reviewed all currently supported desktop
products in order to address any gaps in product web pages and installers. (On a related note: After prolonged negotiations with Microsoft and their distributors, MIT signed Microsoft's Select Agreement and implemented it via our on-line purchasing partner. This agreement provides consistently discounted pricing for all major Microsoft applications.) OCP also focused its attention on MIT Personal Certificates (X.509), which allow for secure, authenticated access in web-based applications. To ensure that MIT web sites that desire secure access implement certificates as the security mechanism, OCP initiated a communication campaign to improve the MIT community's understanding of the importance of certificates and their use.
As a result of new federal laws, web page accessibility became a critical issue for MIT. This year, under the auspices of the new Architecture and Infrastructure Practice (A&IP), IS developed accessibility guidelines with practical examples for both purchasing and building software, taught an IAP class on this topic, and, via the Institute's I/T Architecture Group, sponsored an educational program with a speaker from Sun Microsystems about "Accessibility Support on the Java Platform."
Several projects also reflect IS's "client orientation." Three Discovery projects-Student Advising, a key initiative to redesign the student advising process for the Dean for Undergraduate Education (with links to the Council on Educational Technology); Spatial Data Services, which creates a new service for enterprise-wide use of spatial data; and Web Mail, an initiative to design/select a web-based email client to improve email access for the MIT community when traveling-and several Delivery projects rely on continued and ongoing interaction with our clients to meet goals and deliverables. The Delivery projects include: the HR-Payroll Delivery Project, which was formally begun in October 2000; and the Wireless Project, a project funded by the Provost that resulted in the installation of some 210 wireless network access points around MIT, ensuring that MIT's classrooms, libraries, and many of the campus' public areas are now served by a wireless computer network.
The second theme in Mr. Curry's call to enhance the utility, quality, and efficiency of administrative services is "collaboration"-"teamwork, boundary-blind business processes, and open sharing of common information." It is only through active collaboration that IS is able to get its work done. Examples from the year include the following.
IS collaboratively supports and contributes to major MIT initiatives, such as: iCampus, Stellar, Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), Information Technology Architecture Group (ITAG), and the Data Warehouse. IS's Web Communication Services Team provided consulting and web development services to a number of units, including highly visible efforts such as OpenCourseWare and the Environmental Health and Safety activities.
The R3-Admin Team partnered with Financial Systems Services (FSS) to effect the upgrade of MIT's SAP systems to release 4.6C, and then partnered with both IS and SAP development staff to prototype a utility for importing MIT Certificate Information into SAP in order to support web-based SAP user access. R3-Admin also partnered with FSS and process owners to execute data archiving and the removal of unneeded Work Item, Payment Media, and Profit Center Accounting data from MIT's SAP systems.
A new Housing Lottery application was developed in partnership with the Office of the Dean for Student Life and put into production for summer/fall 2001. The new system permits a summer lottery for dormitory assignments in time for Orientation, and a fall lottery for permanent dormitory assignments. This new, more robust system requires high and extended availability to: authenticate pre-first-year and first-year students; collect individual and group housing preferences; and email and display on the web the dorm assignment.
An MIT Cable TV project was initiated to provide a new digital cable TV service to the MIT campus beginning on September 1, 2001. The vendor, Falls Earth Station, offers an innovative solution and directly addresses the concerns revealed by a cable services survey of students as well as issues expressed by the MIT Housing Office. The project will include a self-provisioning (self-service) feature that is an industry first. The number of channels provided will also increase dramatically and subscribers will be able to utilize additional customized services.
IS worked with Procurement, the Controllers Accounting Office (CAO), and FSS to solidify the Roles Database as the Institute's official authorization system. Roles now includes departmental authorizations to create requisitions, and approve invoices and travel documents. A major milestone in the use of Roles was achieved when the Cost Object Supervisor Authorization project, which made explicit the authority to sign paper requisitions, and approve invoices or travel documents, was completed.
The IS R3-Admin Team partnered with FSS, CAO, and other IS personnel to assess the MIT SAP infrastructure options for accommodating Lincoln Laboratory financial operations.
IS Windows experts working with FSS staff configured six servers with increased security to support SAP's Internet Transaction Server (ITS) implementation. The ITS allows many SAP transactions to be securely conducted via the web.
IS and FSS collaborated with the MIT Libraries in their conversion to a new business system. In July, the older GEAC Advance system was replaced with a more current ALEPH system from Ex-Libris. IS contributed in vendor selection, project management coaching, security, and operations supports, while FSS helped with data feeds, and financial and procurement processing.
IS also collaborated with the Libraries and several departments in establishing a Spatial Data Services/ Geographical Information System (GIS) capability at MIT. GIS has its origins in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and is now used in many other disciplines including Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences. The initial stages of developing and establishing this service involved procuring a site license giving MIT faculty, staff, and students access to a large suite of GIS software and hiring a Spatial Data Specialist, who has also assisted in teaching this subject matter. A delivery project launched this year will enable campus-wide access to GIS software and datasets.
IS collaborated with the Libraries on the Dspace project which is building a prototype system for preserving digital content.
The EDI Operations Team began technical discussions with MIT Benefits regarding the use of EDI for transmitting data to Blue Cross and other carriers. Also, the team completed testing of the ANSI 834 Benefits Transaction with PGP encryption to enhance security.
The EDI Operations Team is working with Office Depot to use XML, instead of EDI, in the electronic exchange of data between this vendor and MIT's SAP system. When successful, work will begin to transition other purchasing partners to this more effective technology.
MIT witnessed an e-commerce milestone in October 2000, when the MIT Museum went on-line with a web catalog and a "back end" credit card processing capability. Interim technology was used as work continued to build a scalable, flexible in-house production system. Pilot use of the production system is anticipated in the fall in CAO for general receivables and in the Alumni Association for gifts.
The MIT Procurement Office and the MIT Computer Connection collaborated in a process that proposed new vendors as purchasing partners for computer supplies. These vendors will make their debut on the MIT electronic catalog later this fall.
The IS Data Center staff partnered with SSIT to configure and install a new environment for the SCT/Banner application. In addition to new servers, work was performed to replace existing system functionality.
The IS-led Business Continuation Team completed a successful simulation exercise with an evacuation and subsequent tabletop planning session for the Central Utilities Plant. A report on the result of this coordinated exercise, which involved personnel from Campus Police, Medical Department, Safety Office, Facilities, and the Central Utility Plant, was sent to senior management.
The Network Operations Team in collaboration with a number of clients, developed tools for conducting on-line surveys. These tools were used for the first time in the Athletics evaluation and the Student Center survey. The team also provided support for the COFE national survey administered at Indiana University.
The IS Director of I/T Staff Development and Resource Management worked extensively with Human Resources in many areas including co-leading the Recruiting Working Group (which led to hiring a recruiting manager); participating in the Human Resources Diversity Working Group; participating in the MIT-wide I/T salary review; contributing to Human Resources improvement opportunities (as a client of HR); and participating on an HR/Payroll Design Review Team as co-leader of HR/Payroll New-Hire-to-Orientation Design Team. In addition, CG staff volunteered as facilitators for HR/Payroll Design Teams.
IS's Support Process began to work with the Administrative Advisory Council II in an effort to define computing support requirements among the departments, laboratories, and centers. Support also continued to lead the Institute-wide "IT Partners" program which held five conferences and seminars during fiscal year 2001.
IS also collaborates with peer groups, such as CSG, IVY+, ACUTA, and Cartel, among others. With the eleven other Boston Consortium schools, the IS Training Team began offering free web-based computer training to the MIT community. This training is available at all hours of the day and night.
IS also partners with external vendors, such as Microsoft, Apple, and Dell. In a major industry press release last year, MIT announced a collaboration with Apple to make the MIT-developed Kerberos authentication system an integral part of Apple's operating system of the future, MacOS X. The MIT team has met its obligation by releasing MIT Kerberos for Macintosh version 4.0a15 last June. This same team also managed a major new release, version 3.5, of MIT Kerberos for older versions (MacOS 8 and 9) of the Macintosh operating system.
IS is committed to developing an information technology infrastructure that provides the foundational capabilities needed to support the teaching, learning, research, and business needs of the Institute. IS's goal is to ensure that the MIT infrastructure is reliable, sustainable, and secure, and that it does indeed "stay the course," which is how the Executive Vice President describes the operational theme of "sustainability." Much of IS's on-going work centers on keeping the Institute's I/T services running as well as renewing and improving those services. Key accomplishments include the following.
MIT's information technology infrastructure lends sustainability to the entire I/T educational and business application suite. In order to have sustainable I/T at MIT we must upgrade, rebuild, and extend our I/T infrastructure. This year IS moved toward object technology with staff to mentor others and to build with Java technology. We began building Java interfaces to infrastructure services, built an end-to-end Java secure environment to communicate with enterprise databases, and began upgrading some of our infrastructure services from unsupported platforms to Java.
IS's Macintosh Kerberos Team developed the Kerberos code to be incorporated in the new Macintosh operating systems working to the Apple development timeline. Our Unix Kerberos developers completed a new release of the code for MIT and other sites using our code base. This work continues to make Kerberos a robust, reliable, and sustainable component to ensure the security of MIT's I/T infrastructure.
IS continued its very successful virus protection program for desktops avoiding again this year any major business outage related to viruses. We also worked cooperatively with the Campus Police to deploy security devices for laptops.
The Network Security Team opened 1352 security cases in the fourth quarter of FY2001, up from 497 for the same period one year ago. The Network Security team also carried out a set of extensive proactive and reactive responses to increased intruder activities associated with the U.S./China Hainan Island aircraft dispute. This series of events was very widespread, and we were able to react before MIT systems could be significantly impacted. The team also assisted the FBI with three cases having MIT connections, and participated in their INFRAGARD initiative along with major businesses and government agencies in the Boston area.
IS also worked to follow vendor and market directions and to track technology that is important to MIT, both for now and the future. These activities include testing supportability issues with multiple versions of Windows IE and MIT certificates, testing vendor "seed releases" of products we support, tracking software available for Mac OS X, and tracking PDA uses and applications.
Version 3.5 of COEUS extended the functionality required for research proposal development and routing from departments, laboratories, and centers to OSP. Additionally, this version included an enhanced "Money and End Date" screen that captures distributions to/from parent and child WBS elements within a single transaction.
In October, IS extended its supported enterprise email offering with production support of the IMAP email service. This new service enables clients to more effectively access their email from multiple machines in multiple locations.
The Enterprise Backup Project Team installed and configured backup equipment in E40. When complete, this effort will enhance the integrity and availability of the SAP system.
Needs for additional disk storage hardware have been deferred as a result of an IS/FSS archiving project, which successfully reduced storage requirements of the SAP databases by 23 percent. Several follow-on efforts are planned which are expected to further reduce disk storage requirements without compromising the SAP system.
The Enterprise Printing project installed and made operational a new web-accessible central printing environment, based upon IBM's Infoprint Manager. This allows IS to upgrade and revise the IS central print service so that it can better meet MIT's large volume enterprise print requirements. It also allows a seamless transition from the current printing process that utilizes the data center's mainframe.
The Software Release Team delivered 17 new versions of software to the MIT community in FY2001 with ten additional products currently in the release pipeline. This effort insures that viable versions of supported software applications will be available for MIT clients.
Telecommunications upgrades to ensure sustainability included work to install a new Lucent 5ESS telephone system, which is scheduled to go into service at the end of calendar 2001. It also included the rewiring of Buildings 8 and 66 to support 100Mb/s MITnet desktop service. Upgrades to the MITnet backbone for these and other buildings are planned for next year. The MITnet commodity Internet service was upgraded from 100Mb/s (FDDI) to 155Mb/s (OC-3C) and our connection to Internet2's Abilene network was upgraded to 622Mb/s (OC-12C) to meet increased bandwidth needs of the community.
In the W91 Data Center, the Data Center Operations and VM Teams completed their first full year utilizing the new storage area network (SAN), an enterprise storage and backup system for SAP which improves application performance, reliability and availability; maintained the mainframe systems running the VM/ESA operating system to support administrative clients such as Payroll and Admissions, the desktop backup service using the Tivoli Storage Manager product, and a mailing list service using the LISTSERV software package; achieved high availability with a total of three unplanned outages all year; and supported overall growth with an almost 50 percent increase in processor utilization. These teams also updated the Data Center's disaster recovery system to use a commercial recovery site. Working with IS's clients, the VM Team also performed successful business continuity tests of both the Admissions and Payroll applications.
The Database Services Team provided installation, backup, tuning, and maintenance support for over 70 administrative databases, while ensuring that databases were available over 99.99 percent of scheduled uptime. The Database Team also created or upgraded over 40 databases, and responded to approximately 600 email support requests.
Teams under the purview of the Office Computing Practice worked closely with several large departments, laboratories, and centers to set and promote threshold hardware and software standards. OCP strives to ensure that all organizational units who rely on SAP have their hardware and software requirements met well in advance of any SAP system upgrade.
To ensure sustained staff excellence, CG continued to employ a dedicated recruiter, who brought a much needed focus to IS's staffing efforts, increasing the number of candidates per search (one technical search had close to 400 applicants), decreasing the time to hire, and improving hiring skills on part of hiring managers.
IS is a key contributor to the OKI project which focuses on designing and developing an open, sustainable, on-line platform to support teaching and collaboration. OKI is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and will provide an open, extensible architecture as well as a set of web enabled learning components for a wide range of educational environments. Principle partners with MIT in the project are Dartmouth College, Harvard University, North Carolina State University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Executive Vice President discussed "accountability" as that which is "necessary to hold everything together, but accountability only exists when we measure deviation from standards, obligations, and commitments, and when it is both organizational and personal. A necessary condition for accountability is clarity of roles and responsibilities. A second necessary condition is that we in fact measure and provide the feedback that forces correction at worst, and promotes continuous improvement at best." IS work in this thematic area included the following:
IS leadership focused on improving IS's project tracking and quarterly reporting this past year. IS made public the components of its Operational Plan with the development of the "IS-Work" database which may be accessed online at http://iswork.mit.edu/iswork/. This effort has already attracted considerable attention outside MIT as a good model for making work visible. (A Stanford University study had identified this as best practice work.)
IS has followed up its fall 2000 Customer Satisfaction Survey with shorter "snapshot" surveys designed to keep IS accountable to customers on a continuing basis. Results from these surveys feed into new strategic performance measures throughout the IS organization and drive continuous improvement activities.
The Competency Group (CG) spearheaded efforts to turn updating job descriptions and performance appraisals into an ongoing activity. CG also modified IS's performance appraisal process to reflect the Institute's new administrative staff classification system, and defined generic job descriptions for I/T staff using the Institute's then-current tool (eValuation). Throughout the year, CG worked to increase consistency and accountability across IS around the use of competencies in selecting staff for specific work assignments. As part of this effort, CG worked with the Discovery and Delivery Processes to institute a new process for project performance appraisals.
IS also responded to Institute requests to be more accountable for the telephone and network rates by implementing a new internal cost accounting structure, which supports more frequent and accurate analysis of rate-based revenues and related expenses. IS also implemented new network and telephone usage rates approved by the Budget and Finance Steering Group. The reduced rates are projected to save Institute departments, labs, and centers over $800,000 per year.
IS's organizational realignment clarified roles and responsibilities across IS. For example, the realignment catalyzed the creation of the Enterprise Application Software Team (EAST), headed by an MIT veteran employee. The team's purpose is to take responsibility for the upgrades, periodic maintenance, and pro-active migration of IS-maintained enterprise applications, such as COEUS, ICE9, TNS Billing, the housing and athletics lotteries, SAPweb, and others, into the Service and Support processes. As a result of a very energetic February Academic Computing Practice offsite, discussions have now begun around creating a similar team to serve academic needs.
Mr. Curry describes his fifth theme—"professionalism"—as "striving for leadership across all the professions which define us beyond our roles at MIT." IS staff serve as professional leaders in many ways and in many organizations.
IS has always stepped up as the technological leader in the higher education community. IS staff participate in, contribute to, and often play key (formal) leadership roles in various IVY+ and Internet2 groups, the Common Solutions Group (CSG), the Boston Consortium, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) security and calendaring standards groups, CREN, Syllabus, the New England Information and Technology Managers Group (NEITMG), the 5E Private Owners Association (5EPSOA), among others. In addition, staff provide advice on a regular basis to corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Lucent, @Stake, and Akamai via membership on corporate advisory boards or through on-going consulting relationships. IS staff also collaborated with a wide range of vendors and outside groups, apart from the higher education community, on technology development.
This past year, IS staff also contributed to EDUCAUSE publications and a collaborative cross-university white paper evaluating Apple's new operating system, MacOS X. They also acted as reviewers for NSF proposals, and as designers and prototypers of warehouse data for the Association of American Universities Data Exchange. Several senior IS leaders were keynote speakers at conferences around the world, including the National Learning Information Infrastructure of EDUCAUSE, and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities in Kyoto, Japan.
IS staff pursue professional certifications, and IS has sponsored Windows NT and Windows 2000 courses (in direct response to the IS Customer Satisfaction Survey) to encourage others at MIT to also pursue Microsoft certification.
Perhaps the most timely example of IS's technological leadership is IS's Network Security Team, which published the first analysis of a significant new distributed denial-of-service program called "trinity," then worked with the CERT and FBI to provide information to the wider community. Closer to home, the Network Security Team hosted "Security Camp 2000," a cooperative educational/contact effort for area university security staff last year (details can be found online at http://web.mit.edu/net-security/Camp/archive.html) with such success that a second event, "Security Camp 2001," will be held at MIT on July 20, 2001, with a companion day to be held at Boston University in early March 2002.
This past year saw an interesting development in that IS's organizational framework and work processes are also increasingly viewed as leading-edge. This past year, IS's HR Practices were recognized as "best practices" by EDUCAUSE. In addition, Brandeis University, the University of Rochester, and Syracuse University all sought information about IS's Discovery Process; IS staff provided Discovery seminars and information to all three institutions.
Within MIT, IS's project management expertise continues to attract other MIT organizations who wish to develop project management capability within their own staffs. This year, Discovery project managers provided coaching and mentoring across MIT; of special note was the coaching for the MIT Libraries 3rd Barton Project. IS staff also participated in two important alumni-related initiatives. The first was the MITCET-chartered Alumni Engagement Team, which recommended ways to deepen alumni participation in the educational mission of MIT. The second was the Alumni Association's intense planning effort to become a more "web leveraged" organization. Both of these have already seen results. The Support Process continued to foster the technical skills of the departments, laboratories, and centers' "local technology experts" by sponsoring many user groups on campus, including the Macintosh, Windows, and IT Partners groups.
IS is proud of its achievements over the past year and is committed to moving forward and continuing to improve in each of these areas in the coming year.
More information about Information Systems and its work may be found online at http://web.mit.edu/is/.