Office of Learning and Information Technology
UW System CIO Council
September 15, 2005
SFS 8.8 upgrade update
DOA Shared Information Services
Update on UW Colleges/Extension Merger
Provost/CBO Study of Efficiencies
Report from the APBS Steering Committee
Learn@UW Utility update
CIOs and their Representatives
There are developments occurring on a daily basis. The August status was yellow, which indicates there are issues that require some attention, particularly:
- The accounts receivable/billing (AR/BI) module is being piloted by UW-Extension. This module has the most customizations and being run in a stand-alone fashion rather than with the usual predecessor processes. A full test cycle has not yet been completed. and thus journals are not yet being updated. Cases are open with PeopleSoft and patches are expected. Work arounds are also being discussed within UW-Extension.
- Some campus site leaders are reporting inadequate readiness at their institutions. A few institutions are behind on their checklists and schedules. Additional teleconferences and individual test plans are being created on an institutional basis for core functionalities, customizations, interfaces and bolt-ons.
- It is unlikely that the upgraded system will be operational on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Each campus is doing an impact analysis to determine what this will mean for them. There will be read only versions of SFS and WISDM available, although updates will not be possible. Arrangements will be made to provide the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) with alternative reports during the shut-down.
Previously PeopleSoft indicated that a "history pass" to convert the historical data would have save significant time. It turns out that the history pass technique is not supported or recommended any longer. Instead, an "all pass" will take 10 - 11 days of processing time. The database administrators are tuning the performance as much as possible to mitigate the time required.
All customizations are finished. The biggest customizations were in the programs for printing purchase orders and the like, not the core functionality of the system. Interfaces have been modified to accommodate field changes. The bolt-ons (WISDM, US Bank Procurement Card, Salary Cash Transfer, etc) have been remedied and unit tested to work in the 8.8 environment.
On September 20th there will be a combined, in person SFS Upgrade Core Group and Site Leader meeting.
On September 22nd the go/no-go decision will be made regarding readiness for a Thanksgiving cutover. The important factors include:
- batch parallel running without major issues
- resolution of the AR/BI issues
- site leader readiness
- impact of not being live by the following Monday
On October 20th there will be another combined SFS Upgrade Core Group and Site Leader meeting. The site leaders will report on their readiness and the goal is to have no major outstanding issues. The go-live plan should be finalized and there will be a report on the move to production process. Contingency plans should be finalized.
On the afternoon of November 2nd, there will be a combined Controllers and SFS Upgrade meeting that includes the Site Leaders and the Core Group. Approval to freeze production and go forward will be sought.
The next steps include:
- resolving theAR/BI issues
- developing contingency plans and fall back plans
- identifying the concerns of the Site Leaders and the Core Group and the development of action plans to address the issues
- executing "batch parallel"
- conducting site training, testing and continued practice
Network update – Ron Kraemer, Ed Meachen, Brian Remer
The BadgerNet Converged Network (BCN) Advisory Group has been formed and it elected Ed Meachen as its Vice Chair. CESA Director Joan Wade is the Director. The reporting relationship to DOA is being formalized.
The first BCN circuits have been installed for two school districts in Madison. A preliminary order of BCN circuits has been drafted and submitted by UW System.
One of the original goals of the BCN initiative was to give all of the school districts access to multiple ISPs. Currently, there are no ISP vendors at all four of the core routers. WiscNet is currently connected at two of the routers and is planning to connect at the other two in the fall.
UW Colleges needs 10Mbps at each campus. Much of their processing is between their campuses or between their campuses and Madison. Vendors have tendered lower prices for such an intranet than those offered by BCN.
WiscNet is in the process of upgrading its core nodes and the rest of the WiscNet POPs through the fall. A few WiscNet circuits are near capacity and will be upgraded by the new year. Fiber connectivity to Chicago and direct connections to Internet transit service providers are being improved.
DOA has released initial pricing information for various services (http://www.doa.state.wi.us/docs_view2.asp?docid=5194) Based upon this information, some UWS institutions have begun to look at what their costs would be to use state services for email and file storage based upon the numbers and sizes of their current mailboxes. The Council noted that campus email is intertwined with many other functions, e.g., Active Directory, maintenance of class distribution lists that are fed from student systems, etc.
DOA's procurement director is working with Silver Oak on a response to the CIO's letter regarding the lack of HP printers on the printer contract.
The UW System purchasing directors had their teleconference on Tuesday. The directors are developing an analysis of the contracts established in Wave 1 including the impact on businesses in their local communities. The Office Supply and janitorial contracts appear to have good pricing for the system.
Wave 2 contract process will include one contract for business and IT services. The IT services will target higher end consultants not included in the Wave 1 IT Services contract. Judy Caruso and Beth Luchsinger were recommended to serve as UW representatives.
Consultant Steve Perkins is no longer available to the MILER team as a result of these contract changes and rate caps. This is a significant loss to the UW System because his expertise was highly leveraged on the Student Administration system and the Shared Financial System. Brian Busby has done a request for services to replace him.
The UW System already cut $5 million dollars out of its budget in both years of the budget as required by the budget bill. This $5 million was in anticipation of the Silver Oak savings. DOA will be implementing a contract monitoring process to ensure the UW and agencies are using the state mandatory contracts. Maverick spending will be identified on a monthly basis. If lower prices are found off contract a request to use that alternative source needs to go to DOA SBOP.
Silver Oak was recently bought out by CGI/AMS - which is the owner of the State's Wismart system.
As background, Informatica was obtained in 1999-2000 as a tool for extracting data from PeopleSoft student systems to data warehouses via FASTAR for all of the UWS campuses. Recently, there has been an ongoing dispute with Informatica regarding which license applied to the software purchase, either the State of Wisconsin's license or a shrink wrap license obtained through a reseller. The company has issued a broad open records request. A few of the questions will likely be denied because of their scope and because it would be expensive to the vendor if UWS goes through the effort to answer them as they are as written. A teleconference will be held with the vendor next week to discuss narrowing the request. David Hart will participate. If they haven't expended the effort yet, the UWS institutions should wait a week before doing any information gathering to await the results of the teleconference.
The IT Subcommittee of the UW Colleges–UW-Extension Administrative Integration Steering Committee (AISC, www.wisconsin.edu/uwc-uwex/steering/) has submitted its report. Of the 122 IT services that were identified, 29 were unique to one or the other institution and 4 were already outsourced from UW Colleges to UW–Extension. The remaining 89 services and their dependencies were broken down into 25 intra dependent service clusters. The 25 clusters are being analyzed for potential added value. Estimating the costs and issues associated with merging services requires the participation of a number of technical staff for a couple of weeks and is an expensive process. The first service cluster to be analyzed will be server clusters.
Mission, branding and faculty governance issues are proving to be problematic. The possibility of including the IT services that UW System Administration provides for itself is still up in the air. Gartner Research shows that 80% of IT mergers cost more than they will save.
The merged institution will probably develop a single CIO, Provost and CBO, with perhaps a deputy for each role, over a three to five year timeframe.
The purpose of the Provost/CBO Working Group was to look at possibilities for moving services from UWSA to the institutions, and vice versa, as well as eliminating functions that are no longer needed. Some of the recommendations include:
- a single reading program review instead of the usual two readings
- pass through grants, such as faculty development, administered by the campuses
- the Institute for Global Studies (IGS, www.uw-igs.org), which is housed at UW-Milwaukee, be essentially eliminated in favor of a position at UW System Administration
- the number of committee meetings be cut in half to save the campuses some $85,000 and 4,500 hours of travel
- the number of auditors be reduced by aggregating them into regions
- a sharper focus to the efforts of the UWSA federal relations office
- process improvements in Human Resources and the rehiring of retirees at reduced appointments to reduce overall costs
- savings in risk financing and the of sharing expertise within regions
- a pilot of regional coordination among UW–Milwaukee, UW–Whitewater, UW–Parkside and UW–Waukesha
Four items were addressed by the APBS Steering Committee at their September 13th meeting:
- There was an update on UW-Madison's effort to identify the gaps between the current state of the APBS project and what is needed to make the Lawson software work on the UW-Madison campus. The steering committee will receive a report in two weeks.
- Questions were raised regarding the PeopleSoft/Oracle contingency study. A report that is being drafted.
- Sue Chamberlain shared a report on the APBS institutional visits from summer 2005. No significant new issues were raised beyond those that were heard at the spring Summit.
- A CIO HRIS working group was formed after Don Mash met with the CIO Council last month. The group has met twice and drafted high level principles and outcomes. At the APBS Steering Committee, the principles and outcomes were presented and David Dumke explained why consideration of PeopleSoft is so important to the CIOs. Some APBS steering committee members questioned why the group was formed of only CIOs. There has also been some feedback that the recent round of PeopleSoft demonstrations may have not been sufficient in terms of revealing the product's full functionality.
Ann Marie Durso emphasized the value of customer reference calls when comparing products. The next phase of the study will be to look strategically at the UWS architecture over the long run and to provide feedback on management of large projects by December
Ed Meachen and Sue Chamberlain have agreed to focus on defining scenarios for the final APBS production operation.
A tight estimate of the full Lawson implementation cost needs to be calculated for the chancellors.
Learn@UW has been under significant load since the middle of last week. The performance issues are now largely in hand, although there are some anomalies. Learn@UW has been working with Desire2Learn (D2L) and Microsoft to implement performance enhancements. The most notable improvements have been in the parallelization scheme and increased caching. There is additional work to be done because these changes were made in a crisis mode. The changes essentially moved the load from the database server to the application servers where more errors consequently surfaced. To mitigate the errors the application servers will need to be restarted periodically.
Regular communications have been going to the campus site administrators. The CIOs expressed the desire to have direct communications from Learn@UW during crisis times. Therefore, the CIOs will receive the same communications as the site administrators when circumstances are extraordinary. A number of the CIOs expressed their thanks for the recent increase in communications from Learn@UW.
There are also maintenance releases currently available for D2L, but they haven't stopped similar problems from happening in Minnesota. As quizzing increases, the load on D2L is expected to increase as well. There is a pending maintenance release that will purportedly improve quizzing performance, but there are concerns with applying a release in mid semester. The site administrators will have a teleconference tomorrow to decide upon a recommendation.
Before next fall, D2L is expected to have a re-architected version available. Learn@UW has a timetable that D2L would need to meet in order for it to be installed for the fall. The CIO Council would like to begin hearing about all of the options for next fall when the course load is expected to be significantly higher.
The Information Technology Management Council meeting will be at UW-Stout on November 17 and 18.
The next meeting of the CIO Council will be on Thursday, October 13, 2005.