2023 Campus IT Partnerships

Campus IT Partnerships

Helping campus navigate UITS services

The CIO Division has enhanced its ability to help the University of Arizona’s 72 colleges and divisions in securing their data storage and staying vigilant against security threats. To simplify the introduction of these secure services, Campus IT Partnerships established a team of navigators. These navigators act as a central connection for liaisons appointed by the dean or senior vice president of each unit.

CITP executive director Maysoon Eshelman explains that the navigators play a crucial role as advocates for colleges and divisions, aiding in the implementation of new services and serving as their main UITS contact. Navigators are well-versed in their units’ business needs, address challenges, and respond to technical queries. They collaborate closely with UITS project managers and service owners to route questions and requests effectively.

The navigator’s role is to deeply know and understand their units’ needs, priorities, concerns, and questions. The UITS navigators have had numerous meetings with their college or department liaison and IT personnel, including site visits when needed to understand a unit’s technology needs better. The navigators and liaisons also meet monthly to share information between central UITS IT professionals and IT staff from the 72 colleges and divisions.

The first major project liaisons undertook was collecting an extensive inventory of their units’ IT assets, including private networks, servers, and workstations. UITS central service owners hosted office hours and Microsoft Teams channels to support the liaisons in this effort.

Mike Morris, IT Liaison from and Senior Director of IT for the College of Science, visited office hours often. “It was really convenient to be able to drop in and ask any questions I had.” Another option he took liberal advantage of was to contact his college’s navigator at UITS.

When the unit liaisons submitted their toolkits, they reported nearly 50,000 IT assets, such as over 3,600 servers. The toolkit analysis revealed some surprising findings. One notable discovery was the significant number of “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices connected to the campus network. The toolkit reports also shed light on the aging infrastructure present at the university. Additionally, the investigation uncovered 21 independent Active Directories and 9 departmental email systems,

Mike pointed out, “Each of these toolkits represents hundreds of hours of work from the liaisons and the other IT staff who helped them gather information.” He added that the process benefited everyone. “IT staff appreciate having a solid inventory documented for their unit.”

The toolkit responses initiated hundreds of meetings between CITP and individual units to help better understand each unit’s unique situation and needs. Sometimes units were able to easily recognize more efficient and secure options they could take advantage of such as moving off on-premise servers to Managed Cloud Services. When there were custom situations—such as researchers’ specialized needs around storage and regulated data—UITS was able to evolve and develop new services to fit their unique needs.

In addition to infrastructure, the navigators are also building awareness and relationships with people. For example, the College of Science includes 21 separate academic departments, and within just Lunar & Planetary Laboratory there are 10 different active projects, each with specific IT needs. These needs are unique with IT staff especially assigned to handle the technologies.

Occasionally, the oversight of infrastructure and services in the College of Science falls under the purview of a faculty member or researcher.

Navigators also facilitate connections between campus units. When a department needs a service another department already has, navigators help make that connection. The toolkit responses revealed that departments often share common challenges and needs. Some were duplicating efforts or separately contracting services that could be more efficiently handled through group or enterprise contracts.

The collaborations between liaisons from campus units and navigators from UITS are setting the foundation for a successfully modernized and secured campus infrastructure.