A new partnership with content delivery network Akamai has increased internet speed and capacity for UAB, improving the potential for innovation and productivity for researchers, students, faculty and staff.

Akamai, a global leader in content delivery services, works as a caching server, storing content locally on the university network — clearing space for other traffic. Bandwidth should now increase 20 to 60 percent. For example, streaming Netflix content would be cached and delivered on campus, so users will see faster, higher quality video.

And because users across campus are not competing as much for internet bandwidth, capacity increases for researchers uploading their findings or staff members sharing documents. 

"We're changing from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality," said Chief Technology Officer Shawn Ellis, noting that in addition to increasing internet capacity, UAB IT has introduced unlimited email and unlimited storage through UABbox. "When you have abundance, innovation and productivity can happen."

UAB is the first university and the second institution in the state to sign on with the company. The city of Montgomery, with others, is also engaging in a partnership with Akamai.

UAB IT’s planned move to 100 GB connections is what made the university attractive to Akamai.
The UAB network will experience one, and possibly three, 2-4 minute outages between 6 and 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 20, as UAB IT performs annual network upgrades.

UAB IT has scheduled the outage while classes are out of session to lessen the impact on campus.

The UAB Hospital network will not be affected by the outage.
A $2.5 million investment in the university’s research network will improve network speed not only researchers but also for faculty, staff and students.

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees has approved $2.5 million for the project, which includes $500,000 from the National Science Foundation and $2 million in UAB institutional funds.

The research network upgrade will create a significant competitive advantage for researchers in genomics, personalized medicine, cyber security and other disciplines, as it couples with high performance research computing expansions to allow the transport of very large data sets.

The upgrade will include installation of a 100G edge upgrade with a science DMZ, border firewall and intrusion prevention system. The investment would speed network connectivity at least 20-fold.

“This upgrade is a critical strategic investment that will greatly facilitate high performance research in a number of areas,” Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Caver Jr. said.

Improvements in the research network will also benefit the network across campus. UAB IT has been working on a number of initiatives to strengthen network connectivity:
  • Increasing raw fiber bandwidth from 10 to 100 GBps to Nashville and Atlanta, which increases capacity for the campus community and helps facilitate the use of cloud storage systems like UABbox and OneDrive.
  • Partnering with content delivery network Akamai to deploy an internet caching switch, which will increase internet bandwidth 20 to 60 percent across campus.
  • Deployment of a separate 40 GBps network and associated science demilitarized zone dedicated to research centers and traffic.
A change in UAB’s global address list for the campus and UAB Medicine email systems will make it easier for users to search for email addresses across UAB.

The current format for searching email user names is in alphabetical order based on First Name, Middle and then Last Name.

On July 22, the global address list change will modify the search order to Last Name, First Name Middle, Suffix. This will make it easier and quicker for users to find the correct email address on campus.

New incoming messages will bear the new name order for senders, but old messages will retain the old name order.

Feedback from campus customers prompted the change, and the proposal was reviewed by an advisory committee of IT employees from across campus.

UAB IT is coordinating with HSIS to make the change across the University and UAB Medicine.

If you have any questions about the change, please contact AskIT (for campus customers) at askit.uab.edu or HSIS (for hospital employees).

If you have feedback or suggestions for improvements to technology at UAB, please visit SPARK at ideas.uab.edu.
Oracle users have the opportunity to add a new layer of security to the system that houses employees’ financial and personal information at UAB.

UAB has deployed a security challenge, a series of questions for which Oracle users will provide unique answers. Each time a user logs in, he or she will be presented with a random question. 

The security challenge is part of a series of improvements to make the Oracle system more secure, which have been made with the support and endorsement of the President’s Risk Cabinet. The Security Challenge will be mandatory as of June 7.

If users opt in to the security challenge, they will also have the option to click a “Remember Me” box, which will skip the security challenge using cookies in the user’s browser. If a user switches to a different device or a different browser or clears the browser’s cookies, the user will be prompted to answer a security challenge question again.

Last month, Oracle changed its login page to match the Central Authentication System screen used on other UAB systems. And last year, UAB introduced a new Oracle RedFlag notification system that uses the same technology as the B-Alert system to notify employees if changes have been made in their personal information, direct deposit accounts or tax withholding forms via Oracle Self Service.
On March 11, UAB IT will implement a change to the email system that will result in mobile devices receiving a notice that a policy is being applied. Faculty and staff email users should click "accept" on the popup message on their devices to keep receiving campus email on their mobile devices.

The policy makes no changes to the settings on users' mobile devices but will prevent random popups in the future.

The messages vary by device with some including a list of items that can be managed and others providing a short message similar to the following:

Server mail.ad.uab.edu must be able to remotely control some security features on your phone.  Continue?

UAB IT is adding this default mobile device policy to eliminate future confusing policy messages that occur as part of some Microsoft Exchange maintenance activities.

If you have specific email questions or concerns, please direct those inquiries to AskIT@uab.edu or phone 205-996-5555.

Student email is not affected by this change.
Funding from the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering and UAB administration has allowed UAB IT to increase its research storage tenfold, from 0.7 to 6.7 petabytes.

The investments reflect UAB’s commitment to improving the campus’ research technology infrastructure. The increase comes from a combination of administration funds, deans' funding and state grant funding.
palazzo alexanderDean Iwan Alexander of the School of Engineering and Dean Robert Palazzo of the College of Arts & Sciences have invested in research storage.
“Improving our research capacity through this kind of technology investment enables our faculty to focus on a critical mission of UAB: advancing research and discovery,” said Dr. Iwan Alexander, dean of the School of Engineering.

“Investing in technology will help give our researchers a competitive edge as we move forward as world-class research university,” said Dr. Robert Palazzo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. said the increase storage represents a “tenfold difference” for researchers. max michael aDean Max Michael of the School of Public Health has invested in funding for research compute capacity.

“Last year, we could barely hold one genomic packet,” he said. “In a couple of months, we’ll be able to hold 10 and process those at the same time.” 

In addition to the funding for storage, the School of Public Health, led by Dean Max Michael, will contribute funding to improve research compute capacity. 

CloudStorageOptionsGraphicUAB IT has launched two new services to give faculty and staff options for storing their documents and data in the cloud.

OneDrive and UABbox have similar features, but determining which one is best for you often comes down to preference — and to the size of the files you need to store, UAB IT experts said.

The two services have many things in common, including:

  • Collaboration features, such as concurrent access and editing and the capability to share via a link. Students, who use Office 365 for email, also have access to OneDrive accounts, so collaboration 
  • Mobile applications, which allow you to access your files among different devices.
  • Both are offered at no charge to UAB faculty and staff. The services are not currently available to hospital staff.

The biggest difference between the two services is the size of files you can upload.

With OneDrive, you can upload files up to 10GB. On Box, you can upload file sizes up to 15GB.

Box’s storage capacity is unlimited, while OneDrive’s storage capacity is currently 1TB, which will be upgraded to 5TB by the end of March.

Because the file size capacity is greater in UABbox, it is more typically used by researchers. In fact, of the 58 TB currently in use on UAB’s service, most of that is used by two researchers.

UAB IT currently recommends that users not store sensitive data in the cloud. Refer to the Guidance for the Use of Cloud Services for more information.

Users who need to store documents on campus servers can get a UABFile account. 

Resources for users:
Log in to OneDrive (use BlazerID and password)
OneDrive help
Log in to UABbox (use BlazerID and password)
Box help
UAB IT presentation about cloud storage services

UAB is investing in technology to speed network connectivity across campus at least 20-fold. While many changes are focused on the research network, the improvements will boost network connectivity for all faculty, staff and students.

The most recent investments in network technology are $1 million from the university — including $500,000 from the Mission Support Fund — and $1.2 million from UAB IT.

“This is a critical strategic investment to help position researchers at UAB to be competitive for grants and to be more efficient in research endeavors as they communicate with colleagues across the country,” said Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr., vice president and CIO.

With new cloud storage solutions UABbox and OneDrive deployed across campus, strengthening the network will help those solutions work more smoothly and responsively.

Among the initiatives to help strengthen network connectivity:

·      Increasing the raw fiber bandwidth from 10 to 100 Gbps to Nashville and Atlanta. “This project will give us the ability to shift our strategy regarding internet bandwidth from providing ‘just enough’ bandwidth to providing excess capacity to handle bust usage like Box,” said Shawn Ellis, chief technology officer.
Completion of the upgrade is expected by September.

·      Partnering with content delivery network Akamai to deploy an internet caching switch at UAB, which will increase internet bandwidth 20 to 60 percent across campus. The project is expected to be under way within 90 days.

·      Deploying a separate research network, or ScienceDMZ, which will increase speed tenfold.

·      Planning the funding strategy to deploy at least 1 GBps minimum wired bandwidth to every desktop at UAB.

In addition, UAB IT has been able to secure funding to add 6 petabytes of storage for researchers. Last summer, the department was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Alabama Innovation Fund for a 3-petabyte research storage array; new internal UAB funding has allowed the department to double that storage.


UAB IT's latest unlimited storage option for campus faculty and staff is UABbox, a free, cloud-based storage option provided by UAB IT in partnership with Box. UABbox

The service, which has been used mainly by researchers during its beta trial, has now been expanded to campus faculty and staff. Hospital staff are not included in this expansion. 

UABbox allows unlimited storage of non-sensitive data, in file sizes up to 15GB. 

UABbox includes web-based access, a Box sync desktop application and a free mobile app, and it also allows easy data sharing with other Box users.

When users log into UABbox with a BlazerID and password, they will find a folder titled "Welcome to UAB Box" that includes FAQs, Box support files, a Box user guide and Box user video tutorial library.

Storage of sensitive data in UABbox is not recommended at this time. Refer to the Guidance for the Use of Cloud Services.