We are pleased to announce a change we are making to Middlebury’s email and calendar service. After years of running these applications on our own infrastructure, we are moving them to the cloud—specifically to Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of services.
There are several benefits to this move:
- Stronger security. Microsoft is able to devote more resources to security than we ever could. As hackers become increasingly sophisticated, this has never been more important. Microsoft’s cloud-based services include an important second level of security that recognizes “trusted” devices, which can include mobile devices or a home computer. This means that even if someone learned your user name or password, they still would need a special code to access your account from a device other than your own. Middlebury users will not be compelled at the outset to use this service, though we think it will be attractive to many people and we will be encouraging and supporting its use going forward once the transition to Microsoft’s cloud-based email and calendar service is complete.
- Better and faster access. Putting data in the cloud will allow us to automatically synchronize data across devices and provide better and faster access regardless of your location.
- Increased storage. Microsoft’s scale allows it to provide greater storage capacity at less cost. This means we will be able to back up data on a nearly real-time basis. And you no longer will need to worry about size of your email archive.
We don’t anticipate any significant disruption in services when we make the change. If you use Outlook, the switch will happen overnight, and your mailbox and calendar will look exactly as they did the previous day once you restart your computer. In some cases, it has been necessary to replace your outlook profile, but if that is necessary, we’ll assist you. The webmail site is very similar to what you are using today, but there are slight differences consistent with a new version. For those employees who use an email client other than Outlook or webmail, we will provide instructions on how to adjust your account settings.
The process of transitioning mailboxes and calendars to the Microsoft cloud service will begin next week and continue through September, with faculty and students transitioned before the start of the semester and members of administrative departments scheduled by department in batches with advanced notice and on premise support. The schedule of moves is available here: http://go.middlebury.edu/cloud.
This fall we will begin a transition of content currently stored on Middfiles to the cloud. This change will bring with it many of the same benefits as those described above and in addition facilitate collaboration – allowing you to share your data with colleagues at Middlebury and elsewhere with ease. We’ll keep you posted as we get closer to that move.
We are excited to deliver these significant improvements to the services we provide to the community. Once complete, we are confident they will result in better service with a reduction in cost and risk. If you have any questions, please contact our helpdesk at email@example.com.
The Middlebury ITS Team
- Horizon report – Joe has been asked to sit on the Expert Panel for the 2017 Higher Ed Report – will inform our work for making cyberinfrastructure projections.
Course Hub/Middfiles/Google Drive
Provisioning Google Drive folders and Middfiles folders using the Course Hub. – Joe
- Meeting w Jim Stewart and Mike Roy about this
- Use of middfiles has declined 20% over the last few years – let’s provision course folders on demand from the course hub instead
- It is possible to provision Google Drive folders using the Course Hub, allowing the Hub to set up appropriate permissions and add rosters.
- MIIS courses don’t use local storage
- What communication needs to happen?
- There needs to be clear messaging that Google Apps is available to everyone, and provisioning of course folders is an option.
- Exit strategy needs to be in place
- The plan is to move away from local storage to cloud services
- What do we lose in this transition?
- Media projects have to be downloaded every single time
- Moving directories to the cloud
- What do we lose in this transition?
- Before this gets automated in Course Hub, do we need to consider other configurations e.g. OneDrive?
- Course Hub can allow for all sorts of provisioning, do we need to make a strong recommendation for one or the other?
- There is currently no proposal/ask to decommission Middfiles/course folders. That functionality will still exist.
- Google folder provisioning through Course Hub will not be in place for the fall semester
- Are we supposed to make a recommendation for one or the other?
- People are already using Google Drive privately, they’re not using Office 365
- Should we do a comparison pilot to determine the unique affordances of the two platforms?
- Only one program will have dedicated support – once we make a decision about which one is supported we need to articulate an exit strategy
- At the end of the pilot, would we turn the unselected platform off?
- Tenure review process and current 2-year retention policies are at odds
- We’d have unlimited storage with google apps, but we can’t guarantee google wouldn’t change their terms of service – exit plan necessary
- How long Moodle archives will be accessible after decommissioning is undecided
Recommendation: Create functionality that allows for the provisioning of Google Drive spaces for courses using the Course Hub.
Recommendation: Create functionality that allows for the provisioning of Course Folders on Middfiles using the Course Hub.
Video Conferencing (Mack and Petar)
- Adobe has discontinued its educational pricing for Adobe Connect, and the new price is prohibitive; we need to plan for a replacement for next fiscal year
- We are in agreement that there is a need for adobe connect-like functionality beyond our other platforms
- Large scale curricular events that allow for screen sharing, file sharing, interactivity, recording, etc.
- MIIS Recruiting, International Education Mgmt program, and other departments are dependent upon Adobe Connect for virtual events
- virtual symposia, recruiting webinars, synchronous sessions for hybrid courses (presentations, roleplays, lectures)
- Alternatives to Adobe Connect
- 6 week Skype for business pilot took place
- WebEx by Cisco is being piloted now
- GoToMeeting by Citrix – not much for academic use
- Additional tools being piloted
- Some of these tools could potentially meet the needs that Adobe Connect currently serves, but they are being evaluated as replacements for our telephone systems. Is that sufficient consideration for curricular use?
- What would be missing?
- Given how heavily MIIS programs rely on Adobe Connect, if tools are being piloted that could replace it, MIIS and the DLC must be part of that conversation and any potential pilots
- Mack and Petar could do demos for us
- We could potentially do a curricular/academic pilot of one of these platforms
- Seems like Zoom is the strongest contender for curricular purposes
- Potential pilot participants – MIIS’ International Education Mngmt program does a symposium every semester. 60 students will be presenting this November (majority of presentations rely upon web conferencing).
- Would be great if alternative platform could also replace polycom infrastructure, but that’s not the primary purpose of the evaluation
- Next steps: Petar will share spreadsheet for us to respond to/indicate our needs in a replacement. Make additions by 8/9
Per our conversation at the ACTT meeting, we need to look for a replacement for Adobe Connect as we cannot afford their new pricing model (which is twice the cost = $40k). This is the link where Mack and Petar have begun to collect a list of features that are required/desired to have in a replacement, and a list of potential replacements. Please add any features or solutions that you think are missing. We are hoping to have the feedback collected in the next two weeks and review the list again and choose the top three solutions.
We are currently experiencing a unplanned outage affecting both BannerWeb and Banner INB.
We are in contact with the Ellucian Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and they have mobilized their response staff to address this issue.
We regret any inconvenience this service interruption is having on your day, and will have this issue resolved as soon as possible.
Please check the System status page for updates.
The new ACT Team process includes Extended Team meetings. These closed meetings allow the Team to work with expert staff and focus on evaluating solutions that inform recommendations.
- Course Hub/Middfiles/Google Drive – We will discuss provisioning Drive folders and Middfiles folders using the Course Hub. – Joe
- Video Conferencing – Adobe has dropped its educational pricing for Adobe Connect, we need to plan for a replacement. – Mack and Petar
ITS will implement a new “spam quarantine” feature on Friday, July 22, 2016. This change will help keep spam and phishing messages out of your mailbox, better protecting the Middlebury College community from phishing attacks and other email-borne threats. The new quarantine feature will change how you manage messages identified as spam by the mail system. Spam email will now be placed in a separate quarantine area, rather than being directed to your Junk Email folder.
Important: All messages in your quarantine area should be treated with special caution as they are most likely harmful to you and others! Do not click any links in these messages or release them to your Inbox unless you are absolutely sure that the message is legitimate. Be particularly suspicious of messages asking you to update your account, reset your password, expand your email storage quota, etc. Remember, any message that asks for your password or username is not to be trusted. For more information about how to protect yourself from phishing attacks, please see go/phish.
Messages identified as spam will be stored in the Spam Quarantine for 15 days. If you have received suspect messages, Microsoft will send you a daily “Spam Notification” email message. The messages are sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, once per day.
If you are missing a time-critical message, check your Junk E-Mail folder first, then check the Spam Quarantine, via go/quarantine.
For more details on managing the spam with the Spam Quarantine, as well as tips on how to use the the Blocked Senders/Safe Senders tools to allow or block specific email message senders, please visit go/spam.
To help raise awareness about community efforts to prevent significant security issues, Middlebury Information Security has launched a ‘Security Scout of the Month’ award.
This month Information Security would like to recognize Amy Dale who promptly and accurately responded to potential malware activity by unplugging her computer and reaching out to the Help Desk for immediate assistance.
When asked, Amy shared this advice about computer security, “My previous work experience, particularly at AOL, helped prepare me to be more alert and aware of scams. A previous manager always said, “when in doubt, leave it out.” In other words, when you’re the least bit hesitant, then don’t open/click/download, etc. “
This astute awareness and keen insight is why Amy is this month’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’.
We are excited to celebrate the hard work and security conscious efforts of our community. Please watch for the next ‘Security Scout of the Month’ and help us recognize these efforts.
If you would like to recognize an individual for their information security contributions or would like to raise an information security concern, please contact email@example.com.