UAB IT is making changes to make Office 365 Groups easier to create and manage.

A new naming policy will allow any user to create an Office 365 Group from Outlook or Outlook on the web. The group naming policy will enforce the naming prefix of “GRP-“ to newly created groups. Learn more about how to create a Group here.

UAB IT will also add an Office 365 Group Expiration Policy, which will help ensure that inactive groups are removed from the system as usage of Office 365 Groups increases. The expiration policy will be configured with a group lifetime of 365 days. Group owners will be notified via email 30 days, 15 days and one day prior to group expiration. The email notification will include a link to renew the group if desired. If a group expires, it will be recoverable 30 days after expiration.

Because Groups could be created in different ways, such as through the Office 365 Planner app, you may not realize you are an owner of a Group.

Note: When the expiration policy is enabled, any groups currently older than one year will be set to expire in 30 days. The first renewal notification email will be sent within a day of the expiration policy being enabled. Additional notifications will be sent as outlined above.

UAB IT has found a way to reduce costs for University-provided cell phones without sacrificing plan capacity.

UAB IT will be reducing the rate plans for cellular phones with 600 and 1000 anytime minutes, saving customers $13 to $25 per affected line without running the risk of overage costs.

Rate plans for the lines affected will be reduced to 400 anytime minutes, but because minutes are pooled across our academic, business and healthcare units and UAB IT diligently monitors use, there is no risk that overages on minutes will result in further costs. Overall, this change will provide a significant savings for UAB.

These savings will take effect as of the Aug. 1, 2018, invoice cycle.

AVP CTO Named DS

Brian Rivers has been named associate vice president and chief technology officer for UAB following a national search.

Rivers, who has served as UAB’s chief information security officer since 2016 and as interim CTO since last fall, begins his new role July 1.

“UAB IT hires world-class talent, and we are delighted when opportunities arise for internal candidates who are committed to helping UAB IT reach its highest potential,” said Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D. “As we continue our strategic roadmap, Brian brings innovative ideas to help empower our campus community.”

Rivers has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and more than a decade of experience in senior leadership roles. He has held a variety of responsibilities in the areas of process control, software development, systems administration, networking, and information security. He has led a multitude of large-scale, transformative initiatives in environments ranging from higher education to 24x7 manufacturing to nationwide sales and marketing. He has always effected significant positive change through building strong relationships, creating understanding and agreement, and consistently following through on commitments.

"Information technology is empowering learning, research and patient care now more than ever," Rivers said. "This is an exciting time and I’m grateful to be a part of it."

The chief technology officer position oversees innovation and operations of technical infrastructures and applications across the enterprise as well as the management of the departments supporting infrastructure delivery, voice and data communications, and academic and administrative information systems.

 “I would like to thank the members of the search committee, led by Jason Johnson, for their hard work identifying excellent candidates for the position,” Carver said.

Members of the search committee included Johnson, executive director for IT client success; Ken Pruitt, assistant vice president for IT applications; Rachel Moorehead, executive director for infrastructure and operations; Dr. Lauretta Gerrity, senior associate vice president for research administration; Dr. Stephen Yoder, associate vice provost for academic administration; Tim McMinn, assistant vice president for financial affairs; and Joan Hicks, chief information officer for the UAB Health System.

New phones that offer clear audio quality, voicemail-to-email capability and other new features are coming to UAB — the first phase of a transition from traditional phone lines to internet transmission.

The new phones will use VOIP technology — or voice over Internet protocol — and will be phased in over 18 to 24 months. Once everyone on campus has a new Cisco VOIP phone, even more advanced features will be available.

New Cisco phones have been installed in a handful of departments taking part in a pilot program, and buildings on the west side of campus, including the new Collat School of Business and School of Nursing buildings, are scheduled to get new phones over the next three months.

Employees in the pilot groups who have received the new phones said the new features and quality

“The audio quality is amazing,” said Joey Jones, information systems specialist for the School of Optometry dean’s office. “They are easy to operate, and recent calls have been especially helpful. The ability to connect a Bluetooth headset is also very nice. … We are very happy.”

While there are a number of new features, those who have the new phones said they are easy to use.

“I love the new phones and they are really simple to use,” said Anthony Purcell, assistant vice president and chief of UAB Police.

UAB IT is nearing completion of installation of the system that will run all of the VOIP phones — a system that will take up a fraction of the space of the current traditional phone lines.

On July 24, UAB IT will hold a town hall meeting with telephone representatives from across campus to discuss the project and begin to co-author the implementation schedule for the new phones. The town hall will be held at 4 p.m. at Cudworth Hall Auditorium.

UAB IT will implement a variety of training methods — including in-person training, videos and print and online guides. As new phones are installed, UAB IT will be on site in each building or department for two days to offer technology support.

In all, more than 8,000 new phones will be installed over the next 18 months to two years. Once the entire campus is outfitted with new phones, new collaboration and mobile features — including Cisco Jabber — will be available.

For a majority of UAB employees across campus, if you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your job.

So UAB IT has put a priority on improving response time to get your equipment fixed or replaced.

In the past six months, UAB IT has improved the problem resolution time of its Desktop Services team to average under one day — and reduced the time it takes to replace a desktop computer to less than two hours.

Those response times, along with a number of other improvements, earned UAB IT a 2.5 maturity rating from industry-leading customer service consultant HDI — up from a 0.8 in just eight months.

“Our employees have always put customers first, but now they have better tools and processes to help them focus their efforts,” said Jamie Witter, associate director of IT Client Services. “I’m proud of their commitment to our customers and the efforts they have made toward improvements.”

Among the improvements in UAB IT:

  • Incident resolution time improved from 3.02 days in September 2017 to less than one day in May 2018.
  • Processes have been improved, including one that helps ensure less than two hours of downtime to replace a desktop computer.
  • Fifty percent of incidents are now resolved remotely.
  • Customer satisfaction improved to 4.8 in May, on a 5.0 scale.
  • Procedures are in place to help improve employee satisfaction.

“Our goal is to get you back to work as quickly as possible, so that computer downtime doesn’t disrupt the work you do to educate students, research problems and run the University,” said Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer.

AVP ChiefTechOfficers DS Brian

The second of two presentations from candidates for UAB’s chief technology officer will take place at an open forum June 22.

Brian Rivers, UAB’s chief information security officer and interim CTO, will present his ideas for the position from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 22, at Cudworth Hall Auditorium.

Rivers has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and more than a decade of experience in senior leadership roles. He has held a variety of responsibilities in the areas of process control, software development, systems administration, networking, and information security. He has led a multitude of large-scale, transformative initiatives in environments ranging from higher education to 24x7 manufacturing to nationwide sales and marketing. He has always effected significant positive change through building strong relationships, creating understanding and agreement, and consistently following through on commitments.

Candidate Tim Brown, executive director of the Northwest Regional Data Center at Florida State University and a former director of IT infrastructure services at UAB, presented his ideas on June 11.

AdobeFlashPlayerStudents, faculty and staff who use Adobe Flash Player are urged to update the program quickly to avoid security vulnerability issues. 

Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player for Windows, macOS, Linux and Chrome OS. These updates address critical vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player 29.0.0.171 and earlier versions. Attackers could use the vulnerability to gain access to your computer and possibly even your private data. 

These attacks leverage Office documents with embedded malicious Flash Player content distributed via email.

Customers of UAB IT's Desktop Services will receive updates to Flash Player. The new version 30.0.0.113 is being released to Desktop Supported and Campus Supported Windows 7 (Active-X, NPAPI and PPAPI) and Win8+ (NPAPI and PPAPI) browsers utilizing the on-premise Adobe Flash update server.  It is being deployed to Desktop Supported Windows 8+ (Active-X) browsers via Microsoft SCCM or Windows Updates. A reboot of your computer is not expected but could be required based on the activity state of Adobe Flash Player at the time of the upgrade.

If you have questions, please contact your department's IT support or contact AskIT at uab.edu/askit or 205-996-5555.

AVP ChiefTechOfficers DS 1

The first of two planned presentations from candidates for UAB’s chief technology officer will take place at an open forum June 11.

Tim Brown will present his ideas for the position from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, June 11, at Hill Student Center’s Alumni Theater. Please enter the theater on the third floor.

Brown has served as executive director of the Northwest Regional Data Center, an auxiliary of Florida State University, since April 2008. He has more than 27 years of experience in IT, with a focus on strategic planning, budgeting, and building and leading support and development teams in academic settings. He served as director of IT infrastructure services at UAB from 2001-2005 and as associate director for computer services from 1993-2001. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and a Master of Science degree in health informatics from UAB.

Further presentation details for a second candidate will be announced soon.

AVP Research Computing Announcement Web

Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., will be joining UAB IT as assistant vice president for research computing, the chief architect for UAB Research Computing applications, including the state’s fastest supercomputer.

Dr. Zottola will begin work at the University on June 15. He joins UAB from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he earned his doctorate in biochemistry and remained to serve in multiple roles to develop academic, informatics and research computing infrastructure and services. He most recently served as chief technology officer for research computing at the UMass Office of the President, where he provided leadership for UMASS to develop the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. Dr. Zottola has 23 years of progressive IT executive experience and has held faculty appointments in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing at UMassMed, where he taught a graduate biomedical informatics course.  

“Dr. Zottola brings a wealth of experience and a vision for our research computing environment,” said Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer. “Developing a world-class high-performance computing environment will help UAB’s researchers accomplish work that will change the world.”

As UAB’s first assistant vice president for research computing, Dr. Zottola will be a pioneer at UAB and a partner to researchers across campus. Under his leadership, research computing should help increase the competitive advantage for grants and speeding discoveries that can change the world.

Zottola will report to the vice president for information technology and chief information officer and will be responsible for creating and managing a team to design, develop and deliver a cost-effective mix of applications, data-analysis platforms and visualization tools running on shared high-performance computing resources across the UAB campus, which is home to the fastest research computer in Alabama.

“I would like to thank the members of the search committee, led by Robert Howard, for their hard work identifying excellent candidates for the position,” Carver said.

Members of the search committee included Howard, associate vice president and deputy CIO; Iwan Alexander, dean of the School of Engineering; James Cimino, director of the Informatics Institute; Christopher Brown, vice president for Research; Robert Kimberly, director of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science; Elliot Lefkowitz, professor of microbiology; and Ilias Perakis, chairman of the Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

UAB IT is introducing a new on-premise restricted storage option to serve departments that have a continued need to process Restricted/PHI data in an environment similar to UABFile, a storage solution which is being retired. The new solution will be offered at least until June 2019 but may be extended if there is a continued need on campus.

Individuals who use services provided by HSIS for this similar purpose should continue to do so.

The new service, Secure UABFile, has been discussed by the Storage and Collaboration Working Group, a campus-wide panel of IT representatives.

UAB IT has been undergoing a plan to migrate content from UABFile department shares and UDrive/home drives to the cloud in OneDrive and SharePoint online. Content from individual UDrives has been successfully migrated to OneDrive, but many departments expressed concern about the need to process Restricted/PHI data, which is currently not permitted to be stored in SharePoint.

UAB IT is working to make the experience as close to UABFile as possible while adding enhanced security. Departments will not need to take any action to be transitioned to the new service. The cost will be at the same rate as UABFile through the end of the current fiscal year; future rates will be determined later, but will remain cost-recovery for UAB IT.

This service will allow departments more time to reduce and redact Restricted/PHI data. The new Secure UABFile will remain online for at least a year after UABFile is retired and may be retained longer depending on business demand and funding availability.

To learn more about how to remediate Restricted/PHI data in your department files, visit our web page on data reduction.

If you have questions about the new service, please contact AskIT at uab.edu/askit or 205-996-5555.