Archived Campus-Wide Initiatives

ITD Banner Hardware Upgrade

ITD has completed an upgrade to the underlying infrastructure for MTSU’s Ellucian Banner system, which is the University's primary information system for student records, admissions, financial aid, finance, human resources, and course scheduling.

The new infrastructure will improve data-loading times and scalability, while providing better resiliency and redundancy in the event of a catastrophic disruption.

This project required a data migration and conversion from the existing system into the new infrastructure, which was installed and tested in a parallel environment. The cut-over to the new system took place Feb. 10-11, 2017.

Known as a hyper-convergence, this infrastructure system uses software-centric architecture that tightly integrates computing, storage, networking, and virtualization resources.

A hyper-converged system enables the integrated technologies to be managed as a single system through a common administrative toolset.

This upgrade replaced outdated, proprietary computer equipment with state-of-the-art, commodity-based hardware running software-defined workloads.

The project involved replacing Banner Sun M5000 host servers running Sun Solaris as physical machines with Dell servers powered by Nutanix running Red Hat Enterprise Linux as VMware virtual machines.

Upgrading the data center network was also part of this project. ITD converted the University’s data center network to Cisco’s ACI software-defined networking platform with 10Gbps switching for server connectivity and 80Gbps connectivity between data centers.

On top of the data center network, ITD upgraded to new Palo Alto firewalls with 10Gbps connectivity between the campus and the data centers. 

This upgrade will also lay the foundation for additional improvements in the future, such as improved Banner access from mobile devices as ITD upgrades the Ellucian Banner software itself.

Argos

ITD is currently rolling out an enterprise reporting solution called Argos. Argos can be used to connect to the Banner database or the BlueInfo data warehouse views now known as the M: drive.

Argos allows for timely and informed data-driven decision-making and meets MTSU's various reporting needs. While Argos provides static reports, it also offers advanced features such as graphics, OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing) cubes, dynamic controls, interactive charts and graphs with "drill down" capabilities that can be used in dashboards, and more. While Argos reports can be run at any time, they can also be scheduled to operate on specific days and times and distributed to whomever should receive the reports.

Argos users are categorized as Report Viewers, Report Writers, and DataBlock Designers. Report Viewers can execute reports that have already been created. Most individuals will have this role. Report Writers will be able to execute reports as well as modify existing reports and create new ones. DataBlock Designers can execute, create, and modify reports as well as build the DataBlocks that Report Writers and Viewers use to get their data. DataBlocks are the foundation for any report written in Argos and contain the user input forms and queries used to retrieve data and information from one or more data sources.

Argos will become a common location for various divisions to house their reports. Rather than waiting for ad hoc data requests to be fulfilled, individuals will be able to run previously created Argos reports whenever they need them. While this will provide campus the ability to do much of their own reporting, there will always be specific requests that will require new DataBlocks and reports to be created via ad hoc data requests.

This is a great step forward for the University when it comes to a common location for reporting and the advanced reporting styles available in Argos.

Timeline

Some divisions are already using Argos to create new reports and recreate existing reports. Over time, Argos will be released campus-wide as the General Campus Access reporting database is recreated in Argos.

Desktop Virtualization

The MTSU community will soon have the convenience of accessing software programs that are currently used on campus for instructional learning or at work - anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Thanks to the implementation of innovative virtualization technology, MTSU students, faculty, and staff will be given the unique opportunity to use a multitude of applications both on and off campus. Dubbed, "C@M" or "Cloud at Middle," this new application delivery system will enable users to access programs online by using their campus network login information.

The implementation of C@M will influence the way you conduct business from a desktop computing perspective, and the benefits will not only allow students and employees to access applications from home and do the work they can currently only do on campus, they will also provide a faster system response time than standard desktops and eliminate system performance issues caused by virus infections.

While on campus, you will have your required software loaded on your campus-provided system through your C@M login. To use the system off campus, you will need to perform a one-time installation of C@M client software. When you aren't located on campus, your C@M system can be used on a PC or MAC machine.

This system has been implemented and positively received by other large universities and institutions of higher education such as the University of Alabama, Scottsdale Community College, and DeVry University.

The rollout of C@M will commence with Instructional Learning and staff computers and will conclude with faculty PCs. After all on-campus computers receive the upgrade, remote access to C@M will be activated. This implementation is expected to take approximately 14 months starting September 2011.

Goals

  1. To provide MTSU students and employees with 24/7 access to all applications they normally use on campus, from anywhere they have an Internet connection.
  2. To provide MTSU employees 24/7 access to work-related data.
  3. To provide MTSU employees with greater PC uptime and system performance.
  4. To provide for more timely installation of applications while allowing PC users to continue using their PCs.
  5. To help the University manage software licensing.
  6. To promote a consistent and common look and feel for all MTSU desktops.
  7. To reduce the frequency of PC hardware replacement, saving the University money.
  8. To ensure MTSU-related data is never lost through the utilization of a central backup system.
  9. To provide MTSU users with greater access to different operating systems (Windows 7, Windows XP, Linux, 32-bit OS, 64-bit OS, etc.) without the need to upgrade hardware.
  10. Significantly greater and centralized storage space.
  11. To enable ITD to provide better support to MTSU PC users by standardizing on a common desktop image.
  12. Superior integration with current and future Microsoft products that MTSU already owns.
  13. To position the University to implement archive and e-discovery systems.

Timeline

February 15-29, 2012The Core Platform will be installed.

April 9-30, 2012 - The First 250 Instructional Learning(classrooms/labs) PCs will be activated.

  • AMG 214
  • SAEC (Student Athlete Enhancement Center)
  • KUC 326-S
  • COE 104
  • COE 110
  • HON 118
  • Library (~20 PCs)

March 5-30, 2012 - The first 100 MTSU employee PCs will be activated.

  • 50 Desktops in the Business & Finance Dept.
  • 50 Desktops in ITD

April 16, 2012Begin the rollout for University employees and Instructional Learning PCs.

August 25, 2012 - The remote access schedule to be activated.