GCIS Update 02Jun06 - complete

***Before you hit delete, please know...

   THE UPCOMING CHANGES IN GCC COMPUTING WILL EFFECT EVERYONE WHO USES A COMPUTER ON OR OFF CAMPUS TO ACCESS OUR SYSTEMS it is in your best interest to understand the upcoming changes prior to Fall semester.***

   An online formatted version of this newsletter with graphics is available
here: http://www.gc.maricopa.edu/help/update

///Welcome to the first official GCIS Update newsletter/// //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

   GCIS consists of the Office of Information Technology, Innovation Center, Instructional Computing and Training and Employee Development. As you may have heard, we are in the midst of a major upgrade to be rolled out this Fall to improve the experience of our 15,000-20,000 users. A series of newsletters delivered via email, printed and on the web will help you stay in the loop and know what to expect.

   The scope of this project involves improving just about every aspect of our current computing/networking environment. Some highlights are: Replacing our current Instructional Palette system with Softricity Softgrid software, we will be migrating from Novell Netware to a Microsoft Enterprise Level file system, and other changes to the network and hardware will provide you with increased stability and SPEED!
   One component of the increased stability will be due to a brand new firewall. This means some ways you have accessed the system in the past will be changing and you will need to access them a different way in the Fall.
Certain servers that we access today without authentication will require authentication (you will need to login) to access the new protected systems.

   Web environments and network space where you store your files will be available but there may be a different method to get to them.
   Anything that impacts the classroom will be completed before August. By July we will be able to tell you exactly what to expect so everyone is prepared. Look forward to upcoming newsletters to hear more details about these exciting improvements.

   May was a busy month for GCC's Technology Support folks. May always marks the end of another semester and academic year. the labs get full, printers are busy and faculty are submitting final grades. This May was also the planning month for the Network Refurbishment Project. The team met with consultants and vendors as they made plans, set milestones and ordered hardware. As the semester ended, the bulk of the Network Refurbishment team moved their workspace to a classroom in High Tech 2 aka "The War Room" to begin building the new network in earnest.
   First, the group was broken down into project teams who made preliminary plans according to their areas of expertise. The teams made detailed presentations to Dan Meyer from Nvision Networking who has been working with GCC for more than a year. He was able to provide excellent feedback as it was his initial recommendations that led to this network upgrade. Then an intensive week was spent with Sagi and Jason from Bryan Vincent Associates.
BVA has extensive experience in migrations to Microsoft Networks, and led the team through the process to identify tasks and timelines, finalizing with a detailed project plan.
   It was during these discussions with BVA that the configurations for new server hardware were developed. GCC has been very successful in the past building our own servers, but it was agreed that because of the demands that will be placed on this hardware, these servers should be purchased from a Tier 1 vendor. After researching specifications and obtaining quotes, the team agreed to select Dell as our server vendor partner.
   June has been designated "Sandbox Month." This is the time to set up new hardware and start testing the configurations that have been drawn out on paper and whiteboards. Now the fun begins!

   We have enlisted a number of faculty to help test the new systems during Summer II semester. A big thank you in advance to: Bill Stewart, Gary Marrer, Rachelle Hall, Don [McCarthy], Sue Oliver, Karen Schwalm and Marla [DeSoto]!

   Enterprise computing at GCC has changed. Welcome some new friendly faces to the stage. Meet Dell, our Enterprise computing specialist. GCC has partnered with Dell on providing secure, robust service to the campus. Dell, a premier, tier one provider of hardware and services has been selected as the server vendor of choice for our new campus servers. Well respected amongst our sister colleges, Dell's reputation has grown throughout MCCD.
   GCC chose EMC as the latest acquisition in their portfolio for campus storage. When discussing the Magic Quadrant for Storage Services, Gartner Group noted, "EMC is a market leader in direct and fabric-attached storage, with an extensive service customer base." The complex task of keeping higher education open for business today requires depth and talent, we expect our partners to add value to what we do.  
   Virtual computing... Is that where the computers take over the world and we fend them off? Not quite. Our current production environment runs about 60 servers in four different classes. VMWARE will give us one standard platform for everything. The virtual environment will also allow us to test by emulating all of the hardware in our production environment with limited hardware.

   Walk by the computer room in HTI and see our new equipment rack -- Wave at the Technicians diligently working behind the fishbowl.

   Microsoft announced on May 22, 2006, its intent, pending FTC approval, to purchase Softricity. This lays to rest one of the questions asked during last Spring's GCC Softricity Softgrid Q&A sessions, "What if they
(Softricity) goes under before the 5 year contract is up?" Now, with the full corporate resources of Microsoft behind them, Softgrid's developers are confident they will be able to provide even better software virtualization services.
   For Microsoft, the purchase of Softricity provides an application delivery solution that is already tightly integrated with MS Active Directory. For Softricity, per Susan Hopp, Director, Sales Western Region, Chad Jones, Senior Director, Product Strategy and John Flanagan, Director of Training and Development, Softgrid will continue to operate as a wholly owned, independent subsidiary, but one with access to internal Microsoft resources.
   For GCC, Softgrid implementation continues according to plan. The new servers are in, the training has been completed, and Softricity support personnel are consulting both on-line and in-person as needed as we ramp up to the full-system go-live date for Fall 2006.
   Press Release from Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2006/may06/05-22Virtualization.m

///This Update brought to you by the GCIS Communication Team///

   For more information on the Network Redesign Project, please refer to: http://oit.gc.maricopa.edu/projects/

   For planned and unplanned service outages please check the GCC Help
webpage: http://help.gc.maricopa.edu
Or call GCC Help x53555
   Option 1 Recorded message for service outages
   Option 2 Student Helpdesk
   Option 3 Employee Helpdesk
   Option 4 Media Services
   Option 5 Maintenance and Operations
   Option 6 College Safety

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