February 10, 2010

IT Governance Meeting

I just attended a meeting concerning information technology on the UM campus. Laura Patterson, Associate Vice President for Information and Technology Services and chief information officer, and Cindy Wells presented.

The impetus:

-U of M is not leading in the provision of IT services for faculty and research support.
-Estimates put IT costs at UM at $300,000,000 and UM leaders foresee the need to make $100,000,000 in overall cuts in the coming years.
-IT around campus is very distributed leading to redundancy of services, interoperability issues among units and failure to capitalize on economies of scale in the contracting/bidding process.
- Lack of a robust data management framework has already impeded the ability of faculty to secure research funding in some cases and the situation is not improving.

The Plan:

- Create a new campus-wide IT Governance structure that provides a mechanism for feeding input from the IT community to the highest levels of UM.
- Most committee chairs are already filled but not committees themselves
- "IT Rationalization" - reduce redundancy and costs via consolidation and/or outsourcing, where beneficial
- March - 1st governance meeting takes place
- August 2010- Complete and begin implementing a 10 year plan to put UM on top in terms of IT services rendered

Current website: http://www.its.umich.edu/nextgen/
Future website: nextgen.umich.edu

Implications for UMBS:

- As we are trying to stay out of the IT world wherever possible by going to LSA IT and ITS for IT services, most improvements will likely be advantageous to UMBS
- That said, although the UM Leadership is avoiding the 'centralization' term, loss of autonomy is always possible

Hugely beneficial for UMBS would be if these new efforts prioritized the following:

- ITS is working on a system to allow non-UM researchers to login to UM IT services (such as an FTP site) using non-UM credentials (e.g. login id and password from their home institution.) ITS is trying align the MCommunity sponsor system (used to create uniqnames) and an open source software initiative, Shibboleth, to accomplish this.

I believe future enhancements in our data management services will necessitate this functionality. This will make new features (and requirements) more convenient for researchers and will avoid lost staff time associated with identity management ("Oh, I was supposed to remember my password?").

Side notes:

This new effort may be related to this new LSA committee:
- LSA is forming a Research-IT Compliance Committee in the next few weeks and to provide more information to units on information management. New policies for the College might impact what our data management effort look like.

Posted by kkwaiser at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)