UC Davis Information & Educational Technology

IET Report : Infrastructure


This section discusses the extensive infrastructure technology services and support that IET provides to the campus. These cover quite a wide range, including middleware projects; campus network security; software and technology support; telecommunications and wireless networking; video and photography services; and publications and news.

Multi-Phase, Multi-Component Email Improvement Plan

IET Evaluates Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus Software from Vendors
IET released a request for proposal (RFP) for a commercial email anti-spam/anti-virus and SMTP routing solution. Proofpoint was selected from among eight proposals as the finalist to undertake a confidence test at the Campus Data Center. Testing indicated that Proofpoint filtered 3 percent less spam than the solution that is currently in place. Consequently, given the significant pricing differential with other products, the decision was made to cancel the RFP. Efforts will still be required to find an anti-virus solution by the end of June. Trend Micro has announced a new anti-virus product, and opportunities to extend the existing campus agreement with Trend are being pursued while Clam AntiVirus is being evaluated as a possible alternative. The next phase of the email upgrade plan is to evaluate a Sun Microsystems solution for back-end mail storage and Web-based email. UC Office of the President has a contract with Sun and, pending a successful evaluation of Sun’s Java Communications Suites, this would allow a solution to be in place by fall quarter. The campus is also discussing the potential of offering Microsoft’s MSN LiveMail service to students in fall 2007. The project team completed the technical evaluation of the service but discussions with various student groups need to be undertaken prior to reaching any conclusions.

Centralized Active Directory and Exchange Services Augment Existing Service
IET and Office of Administration collaborated over the past year to develop a centralized campus Exchange service as an augmentation to the existing campus Active Directory Service. Office of Administration (OOA) is nearing completion of its project to migrate approximately 1,400 staff members to this new service. Once the OOA migration is complete, IET will start converting its 300 staff members to the service, thus enabling shared calendaring and file sharing across divisions. Standardization on methods for group policies, email services, and automated security and system updates are among the other anticipated benefits. The centralized Exchange services (hosted by the Data Center) are now ready for full campus use, at a rate of approximately $8 to 10 per month per user. A number of campus units have already started using the service (Office of Research, Office of Resource Management and Planning), and several others (e.g., Student Affairs) have expressed interest (http://windows.ucdavis.edu/Win2kAD/).

New Listserv Software Will Replace ListProc During Summer
IET is preparing to transition from ListProc, the electronic mailing list management software now used on campus but no longer supported by the vendor, to Mailman, in use at many universities. In April, the project team started testing the software, provided training for support staff, and drafted a transition plan and communication plan. The transition is expected this summer (http://email.ucdavis.edu).

New Web-based Application Will Facilitate Bulk Email Process
A project is underway to develop a Web-based application that will facilitate the submission, review, and approval process for bulk email communications, as outlined in campus policy PPM 310-18. Based on the data entered into the system, this new application will determine and then track all necessary components required to accurately distribute a message to its intended recipients. The application is expected this summer (http://email.ucdavis.edu).

Computing and Network Security

End-Point Security Solution Being Considered
UC Davis administers a general purpose computer vulnerability scanning system that was developed in-house. While the UC Office of the President awarded the system a Sautter Golden Award last year, with the increasing presence of internal firewall functions, more and more computers are becoming resistant to server-based vulnerability scanners. Commercial end-point scanning systems are able to interrogate computers much more thoroughly than the UC Davis system. A commercial solution could require an investment of up to $350,000 for initial implementation and approximately $161,000 annually. The current proposal suggests using one-time funds for this critical security service. The proposal is under review by the Provost. A decision is expected by early June.

Web-based Cyber-Safety Auditing Tool Available
The new Web-based Vulnerability Scanning Cluster designed by IET to audit systems for compliance with the UC Davis Cyber-Safety Program is expected to be available by the end of May. Using this tool, system administrators who are officially identified as the departments’ technical contacts will be able to run scans against systems for which they are responsible and generate reports to help them identify and prioritize vulnerable or potentially vulnerable systems. This auditing tool (which includes the Nessus plug-ins already integrated into the vulnerability scanning and remediation service) provides a centralized, cost-efficient method for campus units to scan their VLANs for security vulnerabilities (http://security.ucdavis.edu/).

Enhancements Proposed to Cyber-Safety Program Policy
The campus workgroup tasked in February with enhancing the UC Davis Cyber-Safety Program Policy has issued a series of proposed enhancements, including: clarifying standards language; adding two security standards (relating to campus unit incident response planning and Web application security); and clarifying the format of the annual reports submitted by campus units. The revised policy exhibit is expected to be adopted by June 1. The deadline for campus units to submit their cyber-safety reports this year is July 1 (http://security.ucdavis.edu/cybersafety.cfm).

UC Davis to Implement Encryption Solution for Mobile Devices
UC Davis is preparing to take advantage of the system-wide contract for mobile device encryption recently signed with Pointsec. This summer, IET will initiate a project to implement the Pointsec encryption solution. This project will provide central support for campus units to deploy Pointsec for laptop computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs). For more information about the UC-wide contract with Pointsec visit http://ucop.edu/purchserv/agree/tas/pointsec.html.

User Access and Support Highlights

Help Desk Receives Five-Fold Increase in Call Volume on Admission Day
On March 15, 34,000 prospective undergraduates received email notifications that admissions decisions had been made, and could be viewed on the UC Davis My Admissions Web site (myadmissions.ucdavis.edu). Almost 1,000 applicants contacted the campus computing help desk for assistance resetting their passwords for the site or creating accounts so that they could check their admissions status—a call volume of nearly five times the usual. In order to accommodate the anticipated increase, staff from other IET units were recruited, and the help desk stayed open until 10 P.M. on that day. March 16 was almost as busy, with approximately 600 calls. Staffers estimated that 20 to 40 percent of the callers on both days were parents of applicants (http://itexpress.ucdavis.edu).

Remedy Software Allows Users to Report Issues Without Leaving MyUCDavis Portal
Two years ago, IET support staff started using BMC’s Remedy problem ticketing software to generate tickets from phone calls and email messages sent to the computing help desk as well as from messages to other IET customer support functions. As a first step toward the long-term goal to provide a Web-based user interface, in December the MyUCDavis portal team rolled out a new Contact Us application that enables users to report issues or questions about the portal, thereby interacting seamlessly with the Remedy ticketing system without ever leaving the MyUCDavis environment. The project team is now preparing to roll out a Web-based reporting mechanism for Banner users in May.

On-Campus Printer Repair Service Discontinued
Early this quarter, an analysis was completed on whether or not Campus Printer Repair (CPR) would continue the Hewlett Packard printer repair operation. It was decided the printer repair operation would be closed down during April, as it was no longer feasible to continue to provide HP printer repair service to the campus. A list of alternative local vendors is provided on CPR’s Web site (http://cpr.ucdavis.edu/).

Hardware Upgrade for MyUCDavis
On March 20, the MyUCDavis portal received 1.9 million hits, roughly 25 percent more than normal. This dramatic increase resulted in a system failure. To prevent similar failures in the future, IET has begun replacing older, slower hardware, including seven application servers and two database servers. The benefits of some of the new implementations are already evident as response times on the site have been reduced by roughly one-third. The upgrade is slated for completion in late May, at which point the system is expected to operate approximately five times faster than it did prior to the upgrade (http://my.ucdavis.edu).

Telecommunications and Networking

Workgroup Releases Findings Related to Virtual Private Network Technology
The workgroup appointed last December to review virtual private network (VPN) technology and suggest how this technology might be applied to serve UC Davis released its findings and recommendations in March. In addition to outlining UC Davis VPN needs, the workgroup studied issues related to VPN technology and identified preliminary costs for adopting both a commercial and an open-source solution. The recommendations put forth by the workgroup include issuing a request for information (RFI) for a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN solution, solidifying funding support, and starting a pilot with an SSL VPN solution (http://security.ucdavis.edu/vpn.cfm).

Campus Directory Information to be Centralized in New Web-based “White Pages”
UC Davis maintains both a print and an online version of the UC Davis and UC Davis Health System directory. Until recently, there was no authoritative data source to house directory data; the various attributes could be found in one or more records systems, but no single system contains all attributes. The manual process to update the print publication, which included reviewing several iterations on paper, was labor-intensive and often resulted in errors. This data was also used to update the online directory. To address these issues and to increase the accuracy of the publications, in January, IET initiated the UC Davis White Pages Project, in collaboration with UC Davis Health System and University Communications representatives. An application is being developed that will centrally manage and function as the system of record for online and printed directory information. This application will be used by departmental contacts to update individual listings starting in mid-June.

<IET Will Coordinate Campus Requests for Cellular In-Building Coverage
The UC Davis Exterior Projects Committee approved a recommendation from IET to coordinate campus requests for cellular in-building amplification systems. Proper documentation and management of these systems, as well as interference concerns with the 800MHz Public Safety Radio System, were the primary reasons behind the decision. IET will begin working with cellular providers to establish policies and procedures for the installation and management of cellular amplification systems in campus buildings. For more information, contact cr-service@ucdavis.edu or call 530-752-4603.