From Marc I. Hoit, Chief Information Officer
What a difference a few months can make! I had a draft letter for this year’s annual report, but wow did that change. A global pandemic can have that effect. Spring has been a whirlwind of adaptation, social distancing and figuring out how to work remotely. While we have had to be nimble and adapt, OIT has stepped up and managed to keep all major projects on track, supported campus in its move to virtual operations and partnered with campus entities to help ensure continuity. In the midst of it, we have been reminded again about the need to work harder to undo the discrimination many have faced.
I want to acknowledge the struggle and inequity that underrepresented groups have had to face to achieve the success and advantages that for some of us have come more easily. I support diversity in all its forms and continue to struggle with how to improve myself and encourage everyone to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society. Collectively, we are committed to fostering a welcoming environment built on mutual respect, recognizing that our differences and similarities make us a more effective team.
OIT, along with our diverse partners, has a number of important projects underway; some of them directly improve campus functions while others help the university IT environment become more efficient to handle the ever-growing request for services.
A major focus has been the support of research. With the collaborative efforts to implement the new research system “RED,” new efforts in secure NIST compliant research environments, and direct support for researchers needing IT architecture and tools, OIT has been working with the Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) and the University Libraries to provide the necessary support to help our faculty remain competitive for the increasingly multi-disciplinary grants.
Partnering with colleges and faculty to provide more direct support of grants is also growing. We are collaborating with ORI to provide project management support for large-grant submissions and once received, helping to manage the complex grant objectives. This can be witnessed with the results of the AERPAW advanced wireless and drone grant from the National Science Foundation and the new College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Plant Sciences Initiative collaboration with SAS on data science in the field of agriculture.
Efficiency comes in many forms for OIT. For example, we moved one of our data centers to a hosted environment in collaboration with the state Department of Information Technology. This move kept our annual costs at half of comparable cloud services to support required compute, data and networking service. We also have a major focus on service management, which provides for a customer-centric approach based on data and standard service structures. This has resulted in an efficient IT Service Portal to get help, new services and information to solve your problems as well as a configuration management database that shows what is connected to our networks. Life safety phone lines such as elevators, fire alarms and blue lights are transitioning to a highly resilient VoIP system. This system provides a cost-effective and reliable solution compared to the alternative of remaining on an antiquated Centrex phone service.
Security continues to be an overriding concern and area of intense effort. The new Endpoint Security Standard, the Secure University Research Environment (SURE), the two-factor authentication initiatives for the NC State Virtual Private Network, and user education all help us meet the growing security needs and requirements to protect our community.
While we are still adapting to the workplace changes due to the pandemic, I am comforted to know I can rely on all campus IT employees to keep the mission of the university moving forward. The list of accomplishments in this year’s annual report is incredible. It is a testament to the hard work of all IT staff in OIT and across the university. It demonstrates how a customer-centric focused university IT empowers you to achieve your goals!