UB has become a leader in developing and deploying an IT environment that empowers University members to accomplish their goals. We have been recognized as a leader in providing the IT resources that students need by the Yahoo Internet Life annual survey conducted by Peterson's, and score equally well using the Educause Guide to Evaluating IT on Campus criteria.
Our students, faculty and staff expect and need multimedia e-mail, high speed networks, wireless access, Web access to library resources and administrative information & services, easy Web publishing, technical support and training, and much more. They have diverse needs in the academic computing arena, including support for:
Distributed Computing Environment
The availability of personal computers, high performance workstations, local area networks and access to the Internet & Web have dramatically changed the IT environment at UB. The campus has migrated from centralized, academic mainframe systems to distributed client-server architectures based on Unix, Windows (2000/NT) & Novell servers and desktop machines & high performance workstations. We have also migrated many administrative applications from an IBM mainframe to distributed client-server architectures as well. Web access to IT services, information, and resources is a major component of our campus IT strategy.
More than 95% of faculty and staff have desktop computing technology. Many faculty have acquired their computing technology via their research grant activity.
Students have access to computing resources on campus through a network of public and departmental computing labs which are housed in more than 90 different facilities and contain more than 2000 desktop and high performance systems. In addition, more than 90% of students have personal computers in their living space.
Since Fall, 1999, incoming freshmen have been advised that they will need access to a personal computer in their on-campus or off-campus residences in order to take advantage of innovative ways of learning and enhanced ways of communicating with instructors and classmates. Graduate and professional schools are currently evaluating computer ownership requirements for their students. The School of Dental Medicine initiated a laptop ownership requirement for incoming students in Fall 2000. MBA students are advised that they will need to have access to a personal computer beyond those provided in the University's computing labs.
Campus IT Support StructureUB has a distributed IT support environment with many campus units involved in IT service delivery. The central IT organization, Computing and Information Technology (CIT), provides the UB community with a broad range of basic computing, telephone, and state-of-the-art networking services and works with distributed technology partners across our campuses to coordinate the planning and delivery of campus IT resources and services. Campus distributed IT staff who provide direct support to faculty and staff using technology in their instructional, research, and administrative activities are organized into IT nodes, in order to provide "critical masses" of local IT support providers to schools and departments. These distributed IT staff report to their respective deans.
A campus IT Coordinating Committee, chaired by a Chief Information Officer (CIO), coordinates information technology planning, funding, and implementation for the campus. A second institution-wide planning group, the Administrative Systems Advisory Board (ASAB), chaired by the Associate CIO, focuses on Web-based solutions for student services and administrative systems.
Below is a description of some of the central tools, resources and services provided by CIT. These services and resources are significantly augmented by the resources of the IT nodes and other units on campus, some of which are also described below.
UB IT AccountsThere are approximately 46,000 UB IT Accounts and more than 88,000 principals in the DCE database. (The latter includes service/host/application accounts, as well as accounts tied to individuals.) UB IT accounts are used by students, faculty, staff, and community partners to access a variety of resources at UB. Students use their UB IT accounts to register for classes (Web registration), access email on the central UB mail service, get listings of current course schedules, get their grades, chart progress to their degrees (degree audit), access MyUB (our student web portal), and access the UBunix timesharing computers.
Electronic Mail (Email)There are more than 35,000 subscribers to the CIT central IMAP e-mail service . (IMAP stands for Interactive Mail Access Protocol. IMAP e-mail mailboxes can be accessed using Mulberry, Pine, Netscape Communicator, Outlook Express and other email programs.
CIT has a University-wide license for the Mulberry email program. We distribute Mulberry to students, faculty, and staff free of charge, and offer a full range of support services: training, consulting, documentation for Mulberry.
Many people like the convenience of having their email accessible from the Web, since they want to read their email anywhere, anytime that they have access to a Web browser. UB has rolled out a Web mail client, produced by the same vendor as Mulberry (and compatible with Mulberry's address books and folders). Web Mail can be accessed at: http://webmail.buffalo.edu/. Web Mail is also available from myub.buffalo.edu. Initial testing has shown that Web Mail is slower than the desktop client, Mulberry, and provides a subset of Mulberry's features.
Students, faculty, and staff receive 15 Megabytes of storage space for their mail on the central imap email servers.
Many departments and schools provide additional e-mail services for their students, faculty, and staff. For example, the Science and Engineering IT node and the Computer Science and Engineering department provide e-mail services and other resources to their students, faculty, and staff.
Online Campus Directory (ldap) ServiceOur online campus directory service, ldap.buffalo.edu, provides the entries of individuals and groups at UB.
World Wide Web
UB's Gateway Web SiteThe UB Gateway web server http://www.buffalo.edu/ and campus info system server wings.buffalo.edu are maintained by CIT. These web sites provide a browsable and searchable front-door to the many college, school, and departmental Web servers and sites at UB.
The Infoseek search engine provides searching capability for the UB Gateway web site and campus info system server and has indexed 49,612 pages at 73 campus web server sites.
The Computing & Information Technology (CIT) Web Site http://www.cit.buffalo.edu/ is CIT's "front door" to information. This site directs users to IT help, news, documentation, online information resources, training opportunities, facilities, products and services.
Student Web Portal: MyUBmyub.buffalo.edu is a web-based, personal portal to the online resources undergraduate and graduate students need most.
Campus Network Infrastructure
The campus network spans two campuses, connecting over 100 fiber optic-attached Ethernet LANs supporting more than 14,000 ports or connections.
The campus network has been upgraded to a gigabit (Gbps) Ethernet backbone with 100 Megabit (Mbps) links to buildings. Distribution to the desktop is a combination of switched 10- and 100-Mbps Ethernet. All new installations are 100Mbps Ethernet.
The network includes interconnections with several local, regional and national networks including the Western New York Health Science Consortium, NYSERNet, SUNYNet, Internet and the National Science Foundation's very high-speed backbone network service (vBNS).
The campus Internet (I1) and Internet2 (I2) links are OC3 POS (155Mbps).
All residence halls and UB apartments are wired with Ethernet for Internet connectivity, providing one data connection or port per resident. Most residence halls and UB-owned apartments provide 100 Mbps desktop connectivity. In addition, there are 100 "open ports" available in the University Libraries, providing high speed network connections for faculty and students with laptops.
Internet2: The Next Generation Network and Applications
UB is among the more than 100 American universities participating in Internet2 as a full and active member of this partnership of universities, government agencies and industry to foster the development of the Internet.
Dial-in AccessUB provides more than 1150 dial-in lines for off-campus access to UB resources and the Internet: a string supporting the V.90 56Kbps protocols and a digital string supporting the ISDN protocol.
Campus Wireless Access
CIT has deployed wireless network access in the following North and South campus locations.
Visit the CIT Wireless web site, http://www.cit.buffalo.edu/ubwireless/ for information on a suggested wireless network card, terms and standards, and wireless security.
TelephonesVoice services are provided through the distribution and configuration of an 8000 line Bell Atlantic Intellipath telephone system, supporting over 10,000 stations on numerous key systems.
CIT provides the following central computing environments:
The Center for Computational Research (CCR)The Center for Computational Research (CCR) is one of the top 10 academic supercomputing sites in the United States.
The mission of the CCR is to support high performance computing research and high-end visualization.
This world-class computational research facility provides resources to faculty and students at UB, as well as to industrial and educational partners in Western New York. These resources are used to solve challenging problems in areas that include biology, medicine, meteorology, chemistry, earthquake studies, and engineering. A number of applications in music and the arts are in the planning stages as well. CCR currently supports more than 80 research groups.
The CCR has access via NYSERNet2000 to the major high speed communication networks referred to as Internet2, the Next Generation Network. NYSERNet, a 622 MBPS network, connects UB and the CCR with national and international high-speed networks such as vBNS, Gemini 2000, and Abilene.
The New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSEDII)The New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII) serves as a new and important resource for the sustenance and growth of the industrial base in Western New York, and New York State altogether. By focusing on the front-end high technology and information intensive design of complex products and the planning of manufacturing facilities, NYSCEDII will develop technologies and provide services that complement other economic development and training activities in the Region and State.
NYSCEDII has three missions:
The infrastructure consists of the following:
UBLearns: Blackboard Course Management SystemBlackboard is the commercially-available course management system chosen by UB to enhance traditional courses and provide online courses. Blackboard provides tools to enhance student-student and faculty-student communication, as well as to allow students to test their learning via online testing. In the Fall 2001 semester more than 300 courses were available via UBLearns. The enterprise version of Blackboard has been rolled out for Spring, 2002.
Students & ComputersThe July 2001 Freshmen Orientation Survey of Incoming Freshmen indicated that prior to their arrival for studies at UB:
Campus Computing SitesPublic and departmental computing facilities continue to play a vital role on campus. At present there are well over 2200 personal computers and workstations in campus labs run by CIT, nodes and departments. Many labs offer specialty software for course work and are open 24 hours per day.
UBiquity Computing Environment: Integrating TechnologiesUBiquity is the name of the computing environment provided to the Engineering and Natural Sciences & Math community by Science and Engineering Node Services. All members of the University community can use the UBiquity environment in Bell 101.
UBiquity is designed to allow access to a common set of computing tools including word processing, spreadsheet, statistical, and math applications, from different computing platforms (Sun/Unix and Windows NT workstations). It presents users with a common "look and feel" on both platforms: high performance Unix workstations and Windows PCs. UBiquity also provides access to file space, where data are stored securely, backed up regularly, and available whenever/wherever needed.
Every day faculty and students use UBiquity infrastructure to run the shared, site-licensed software applications needed at a comprehensive research university that would be too costly for individuals to purchase for their own personal computers/workstations.
CIT Help DeskCIT Help Desk The CIT Help Desk provides consultation on the core computing topics needed by the University community. An estimated 20,000 "problem tickets" were logged and resolved during the 98-99 academic year. The Help Desk receives requests for computing assistance via phone call, walk-in and email requests.
User Documentation & WorkshopsMore than 80 reference, step-by-step, and tutorial documents are available electronically through the CIT documentation system on the World Wide Web at http://www.cit.buffalo.edu/documentation Free workshops on more than 30 topics are offered by CIT and the Libraries. UBMicro also offers workshops for a fee.
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