Sasi K. Pillay, Ph.D.
Vice President & Chief Information Officer
Information Technology Services
Washington State University
Letter from the CIO
It was another stellar year for Information Technology Services (ITS) in serving this community of students, faculty and staff. We continued to focus on WSU’s four strategic themes and the Drive to 25 as ITS continued laying the foundation of infrastructures offering us the ability to continue expanding positive experiences for WSU’s students, faculty, and staff. This report outlines just a few of the exciting accomplishments that our hardworking staff made in fiscal year 2019, working collaboratively with all of you, the community and family that is WSU.
Access and connectivity are key elements in providing services. To this end, we completely revamped our guest wireless network and deployed Eduroam so that it is easy to use and is truly self-service. Whether it is a visiting parent or a collaborator from another institution, ITS made access easy.
Interconnecting all of WSU locations was a glimmer of hope a few years ago. This past year, we began our march toward interconnecting not only all campuses, but also Extension locations and Development Centers, giving rise to CougNet. We connected Prosser, Mt. Vernon, Puyallup and Kitsap locations to the rapidly emerging WSU intranet. When complete, CougNet will reach every location of WSU, assuring WSU’s services are accessible to every citizen of every county in the state, eliminating redundant effort and reducing costs. So far, this has resulted in savings of over $100K per year.
The core network backbone on the Pullman campus was upgraded to 100 gigabit per second. This will also serve the university community well as we embark on providing more services that will consume this bandwidth.
Working closely with AOI, the entire videoconferencing capability has been migrated to a modern, easy to use platform called Zoom, hosted in the cloud. With this capability, we now have a single platform to host both academic and administrative video conferencing. This eliminated the need to upgrade the aging infrastructure and resulted in nearly a million dollars in cost avoidance. Our next focus for this new application is converting conference rooms to full Zoom functionality, thereby improving ease of use.
Covering all three of our tenets for mission enablement, risk reduction, and cost effectiveness ITS deployed Okta, the new authentication system. This environment allows users to more dynamically manage their WSU network passwords. In the coming months, we will implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) greatly reducing–in fact eliminating–compromised accounts that come about through phishing and other malicious efforts.
We deployed a mobile ecosystem now housing many independent WSU mobile applications, thereby simplifying the burden of individually locating and managing these applications by the user. Always seeking student engagement opportunities, we hosted our first ever student design hackathon. An excellent turnout of students from all academic areas offered design ideas to serve fellow students and the best of those ideas were recognized with prizes and are in consideration for WSU-wide deployment.
ITS now has an integrated process for ordering and service fulfillment of the myriad of ITS-managed services. We also introduced the new service desk model, Crimson Service Desk, this past year. This environment accommodates service requests for not only ITS, but is equipped to support numerous other service organizations such as AOI, Student Affairs and more across the university. It has the potential to become a single service desk for WSU that students, faculty and staff can use to resolve issues, no matter what they are. CougNet’s intranet and connected community is an excellent partner to Crimson Service Desk in meeting needs system-wide as WSU needs continue to grow.
These are just a few of the accomplishments that we were able to achieve with your support and collaboration. We strived to increase Transparency in our operations, listen with Empathy to your concerns, Collaborate with you to deliver excellent service, and be Honest in everything we do. Together that spells TECH, which is our currency!
As always, we encourage your feedback and please do so by contacting Jacqueline Southwick, ITS Communications Manager, at Jsouthwick@wsu.edu.