December 2019 CIO Update

Best wishes for the holiday season!  I hope all my colleagues are able enjoy some time off, and I am particularly thankful (as I know all of the VCU community is) to those working over the holidays.  This month, I feature two initiatives that represent great progress for Technology Services:

Kaltura Classroom

Academic Technologies recently completed a multi-year project to deploy Kaltura Classroom, a software-based lecture capture service, to over 160 centrally supported classrooms. The system provides in-room lecture capture that can be started as ad-hoc (on-the-fly), but also provides a hands-off, schedule-based workflow. Recordings can be scheduled to start automatically, without the need for user intervention. Instructors can also pause/resume or stop the recording manually if needed.

Kaltura Classroom provides background upload and sharing via Blackboard or Kaltura MediaSpace, ensuring content will be available within the Kaltura platform, using a dual-stream player for viewing content (display) and the presenter (video) simultaneously. Another important benefit of Kaltura Classroom is that it operates on an open, standards-based platform, which ensures VCU recorded content can be captured, ingested and centrally managed. Kaltura’s one-of-its-kind opportunities for pre-recorded and on-demand formats will meet evolving needs, including viewing on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, which supports our student’s ability to succeed in their studies.

SCCM

Earlier this year the Technology Support Services Endpoint Computing team refocused its System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) development efforts from delivering network-based system imaging to delivering the patching functionality previously provided by LANDesk.  With this focus in mind, the Endpoint Computing team worked to develop a patching regime for Microsoft Windows clients that would include:

— Microsoft system updates
— Third-party application updates
— Set a schedule for testing and patching production computers
— Standardized patch testing
— Establish protocols for emergency patching
— Development of the process for pulling back updates with issues

While the team employs a combination of virtual and physical machines for testing, early on the team realized that a key component for this process to succeed would be crowdsourced testing of patches during the test cycle. Partner departments are required to maintain systems dedicated to the testing phase that are representative and/or actual in-service production computers. Much of this same process is also utilized by the Information Security Office for their anti-virus replacement using Microsoft’s System Center Endpoint Protection (SCEP) that is also managed on the SCCM platform.

On the roadmap for 2020 is Operating System Deployment (OSD) Service and a new Software Center which will allow people to install VCU applications without administrator privileges. The tool and our use of it will continue to evolve based on the needs of the community and security requirements. The tool itself is getting a new name as Microsoft announced that SCCM will be known as Microsoft Endpoint Management moving forward. Many of these same processes are also being developed by Endpoint Computing for Apple macOS management via Jamf Pro to provide an overall level field for computer management at VCU. 

 If you want additional information or have any questions regarding some of these services, please contact Endpoint Computing at endpoint@vcu.edu.

Happy Holidays!

Alex

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