Spotlight on Information Technology
The first implementation of Unified Communications was at the end of July 2012 at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. Representing the special case of the hospitality industry, the Inn presented challenges of equipping the hotel’s guest rooms, conference rooms, and public spaces, as well as those administrative offices that have communications services needs more similar to other university departments.
A few days of overlap of the old telephones and the new Avaya phones marked the cutover period before the old instruments were removed. The photo shows the old, beige phones and the new black Avaya phone to the right of the workstation at the Inn’s front desk.
TelePresence improves videoconferencing’s two-way audio and video telecommunication experience by offering high definition video communication, using the best equipment available, and allowing for complete network control. While videoconferencing operates on television style sets, Telepresence’s 55-inch plasma screens allow the “life size” view of the remote location to include important details like facial gestures and real-time eye contact. This immersive experience means participants at a distant site feel as if they were physically present in the room.
Room 312 Burruss Hall was the first TelePresence room at the university, followed closely by 1100 Torgersen Hall for larger groups. The National Lambda Rail’s TelePresence Exchange links the Cisco TelePresence rooms among the four universities—Virginia Tech, George Mason University, James Madison University, and the University of Virginia. Courses originating at one university can include students at other universities, participating simultaneously alongside their distant, fellow students.
IBM awarded five-year contract to transform campus telecommunications services
With the procurement process complete (see vtnews.vt.edu) , the Unified Communications Project is underway. Follow the progress of the project at www.nis.vt.edu/uc/. The unified communications effort begins with three foundational projects required to enable the new communications capabilities. These additional projects are
- Core IP Network Upgrade that will replace key components of the core network;
- Cable Plant Upgrade, a project to install new cabling, notably in buildings with older cabling that does not support higher-bandwidth applications;
- Facilities, construction or renovation campus telecommunications spaces needed to meet space, power, security, and cooling requirements.
Invent The Future: VT 2020
The interactive report of the Task Force on Instructional Technology, Invent The Future: VT 2020, is available:
Last fall, Erv Blythe and Daniel Wubah, vice president and dean for undergraduate education, charged the 18-member task force with developing a vision plan on the best use of instructional technology at Virginia Tech in the next decade and beyond. Co-chaired by Anne Moore and Peter Doolittle, the task force convened meetings between January and May 2011, hearing presentations and engaging in discussions about the future for instructional technology at large. In particular, the task force sought to envision what Virginia Tech might look like in 2020 in order to realize the possibilities for instructional technology to benefit learning.
A wealth of information resides on the interactive site that may serve as a resource for thinking, discussion, planning, and action. This website is a dynamic outcome of the task force’s work and is designed to allow anyone to join the conversation and ongoing activities. Your comments and additions are welcome.
Virginia Tech Global Server
On March 16, 2011, Virginia Tech established a new digital certificate service to issue Virginia Tech Global Server certificates at no cost to Virginia Tech users. With a contract with Global Sign in place, these new certificates benefit from automatic trust by most popular Web browsers and applications. This relationship provides a major step forward in maintaining website security by providing a trusted digital certificate without the expense of purchasing a commercial digital certificate for each website needing one.
For more information, see www.pki.vt.edu.
Discovery Commons is the new research repository managed through Digital Imaging and Archiving. The commons provides a place to view and explore online resources, and offers coordinated support for digitizing, image development, and repository site development. More than just a storage location, the research repository provides an online environment with easy navigation through the content, allowing researchers to find information readily.
Centralized computing support means that access to the content is maintained simultaneously for large numbers of users. Digital archiving means that preservation of original material is improved, with the online availability reducing the need for researchers to handle original records, extending the life of those originals.
The first completed project is the Macon Daily Telegraph, an indexed Civil War-era newspaper for the Center for Civil War Studies representing the first phase of the American Civil War Newspapers site at Virginia Tech. This site and others currently being developed are available at https://dcr.emd.vt.edu.
Virginia Tech is planning a transition from the existing campus telephone and voice mail system to a new system which will enable the university community to access new and emerging technologies. The planned system and communications model is often referred to as Unified Communications.
The Unified Communications (UC) system will provide a foundation for the integration of real-time communications services like telephony, instant messaging, chat and desktop video conferencing with other non-real-time communications services such as email, voicemail and fax.
CNS has received several UC proposals from industry-leading telecommunications vendors and system integrators in response to a request for proposal released in September 2010. The RFP evaluation committee is working closely with Virginia Tech's Purchasing Department to identify UC solutions best suited to meet the communications, messaging, and collaboration needs of the university community.
Capital Project for Campus Fiber Optic Improvement Project
The board of visitors has authorized moving forward with the Campus Fiber Optic Improvement Project, a project included in the university's 2010-2016 Six-Year Capital Plan. The current fiber-optic backbone is outdated, having been initially implemented twenty years ago. The current infrastructure lacks sufficient capacity to meet existing demand, let alone additional future demand. Phased improvements over several years consists of five segments connecting to the five campus switching centers and connections from the core to several buildings.
Grant from federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
The U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) awarded a grant to extend Virginia's open-access fiber optic backbone into the central Appalachian region of the state. The grant enables extension of the state network, adding 110 miles of fiber from Bedford through Roanoke, Botetourt, Craig, Giles, and Montgomery counties. The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative partnered with the Virginia Tech Foundation to develop the proposal and will help to build and operate the network. Jeff Crowder of CNS is the project manager.
For more information, see "Virginia Tech Foundation receives $5.54 million grant from federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program."
Progress Continues in Virginia Tech’s Blackboard-to-Scholar Transition
Blackboard is being replaced by Scholar and will no longer be available for course use after August 16, 2010. Learning Technologies offers workshops and other transition resources to assist instructional faculty and graduate assistants with the transition throughout the spring and summer...
VT STARS—the Virginia Tech Summer Training Academy for Rising Students—has been a program to motivate economically disadvantaged high school students to pursue advanced education in information technology or IT-intensive careers in the sciences and engineering. Funding was, in part, from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education...
High Performance Parallel Computing Bootcamp
Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia host the High Performance Parallel Computing Bootcamp from July 28 to August 2, 2008. The bootcamp introduces graduate students, faculty members, and research staff members to the basics of high performance parallel computing.
For more information, see the Advanced Research Computing website.
Information Technology Security Task Force
The Virginia Tech Information Technology Security Task Force was formed in December, 2003, to review the security of the university's information technology environment.
The goals of the task force are to:
- identify current methods of securing VT computing and network resources;
- identify ways to improve security; and
- propose specific solutions and initiatives to enhance the security of the Virginia Tech information technology environment.
Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) Update
The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to extend CALEA
provisions to the Internet and providers of facilities-based Internet access or voice-over-IP. For more
information, see the American Council on Education's press
release or the Information Technology Association of America's (ITAA) Security Implications of Applying the Communications
Assistance to Law Enforcement Act to Voice over IP.
EDUCAUSE honors Virginia Tech for innovative achievements
Virginia Tech has received a 2005 EDUCAUSE award for Systemic Progress in Teaching and Learning.
The eCorridors team's mission is to create competive advantage by facilitating the deployment of advanced network infrastructure and applications leveraging inter-regional connectivity for communities.
NetworkVirginiang is an advanced, broadband network delivering Internet and intranet services statewide. It is the result of a project led by Virginia Tech in association
with Old Dominion University and the Virginia Community College System to develop universal access to competitive, advanced digital communications services for all of Virginia.
The Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) spectrum represents the largest block of spectrum ever auctioned and Virginia Tech was the only university that participated
as a bidder in the auction. LMDS enables wireless communications at gigabit speeds - thousands of times faster than most current communications systems for "last-mile" voice
and data services.
Wireless Campus Infrastructure
The intent for the wireless campus infrastructure project is that Communications Network Services, a division of Network Infrastructure and Services,
will enter into a long-term relationship with a qualified carrier and its equipment and content partners in order to deliver state-of-the-art wireless
voice, data, and Internet services as well as unified messaging on and off campus, in order to improve teaching and learning, and to enhance research.