Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Updates from ITS for Fall 2014

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Submitted by Carrie Rampp


I hope you will appreciate a few timely updates from ITS in advance of the Fall semester.  We've been making some improvements this summer. I look forward to your feedback.

New & Improved Services in the Harris Innovation Zone

Helpdesk Services
You asked, we’ve made changes! Beginning September 1st, Helpdesk professional staff will be available by phone and in person from 7:30AM to 5PM whenever classes are in session. As well, we’ve moved our walk-up Helpdesk services to the large desk in the center of the Harris Innovation Zone. Come see us!  New staff Adam Ramsey and Kurt DeMarra have joined our Helpdesk team and look forward to meeting you! And call us on our new phone number, x6789!

New Technology Lending Center (TLC)
We have created a Technology Lending Center in the Harris Innovation Zone in the space formerly occupied by the Call Center. This greatly expanded service will facilitate the lending of a variety of equipment (most not requiring specialized training) to faculty, staff and students. Examples of items available include cameras, tripods, iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, webcams, voice recorders, projectors, video cameras, among many others. To make equipment reservations you can stop in, email or call x6800. When classes are in session, the TLC will be open from 8AM to 10PM on weekdays and 12PM to 6PM on weekends.

New Tech available in the IZ
Over the summer, we have been busy making many improvements the Innovation Zone, on the ground floor of the Harris Center. In this space you will now find a 3-D scanner as well as a 3-D printer to support student and faculty work. In addition we have installed a “whisper room,” which allows audio recording in an environment comparable to a professional sound studio.  

Mavericks...Yosemite...Windows operating systems abound…
ITS is taking a more proactive approach to the management and deployment of new operating systems. While some of our older computers cannot always handle the latest operating systems, we will be redoubling our efforts to move to new OS’es each cycle. We expect to deploy Yosemite in the Innovation Zone within days of its formal release this Fall. A Windows 8 workstation is also available in the IZ and we anticipate providing several other Windows computers for student use in the IZ this Fall. While we did not upgrade classroom computers to Mavericks this summer, we will review the feasibility of leapfrogging directly to Yosemite for Fall 2015. Apple computer users: We would like to assist you should you want to upgrade your computer’s operating system to Mavericks. Should you wish to make that move, please call the Helpdesk at x6789 and we will make an appointment for a time when you can come in and we will assist you with that process.

New Guest Wifi
You may recall an announcement of a pilot guest wireless service just before 2014 Commencement. This pilot has gone well this summer and we will be transitioning more fully to this as our only guest wireless access this Fall. The new guest wireless, called: FandM-Guest-WiFi is a self-registering guest wireless service, similar to what you might find at a hotel or coffee shop. Upon choosing this network, you will be prompted to register.

You do not need a special password from the Helpdesk to connect. This service times out after periods of inactivity, requiring you to re-register. Because our new guest wireless network isolates guest wireless traffic outside of our secure campus network, campus services that would not be available to you from off campus are not available to guest wireless users. (examples include: library databases, Cognos reporting or other systems that require the VPN, etc.) Nothing prevents campus users from signing on to guest wireless.  However, you will find our registered wireless service offers you more ready access to campus content.  Faculty, staff and students are  strongly encouraged to use their campus credentials and our registered wireless.  

Infrastructure Improvements
We have nearly completed our network core upgrade which should bring much greater capacity and redundancy to our campus network.  This transition should be fairly invisible to you, but we are transitioning buildings one at a time to this new infrastructure.  Our prior network infrastructure was more than 7 years old and no longer meeting campus needs.  We have completed a significant upgrade to our virtual server infrastructure.  Nearly 130 of our 170 servers on campus are part of this virtual infrastructure. This upgrade brings new management features, including much easier ability to deploy new virtual servers when needed.  

ITS previously announced that the latest version of CrashPlan Pro, with a new dedicated server to support backups of your desktop workstation--good insurance in the event of a disaster--is available! There are many users who have not yet made the switch.  We will be undertaking more aggressive steps this Fall to get you off the old system and on the new one so the older instance can be decommissioned.