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 use Groups here.

In mid-August, 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.

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.



Collaborating within your department or organization can be easier with a new Office 365 feature called Groups.

With an Office 365 Group, you will receive a group email address and Outlook inbox, shared calendar, shared planner, and a SharePoint Online site for document collaboration, all operating under the Office 365 umbrella.

You won’t have to manually assign permissions to each resource because adding members to the group automatically gives them access to each tool.

Groups give teams greater collaboration opportunities than distribution lists under the old on-premise email experience.

Learn more about Office 365 Groups in this knowledge base article and in our Office 365 FAQs.

To request an Office 365 Group, open a request ticket through the IT Service Portal.

If you have questions about Office 365 Groups, contact AskIT at 205-996-5555, askit@uab.edu or at uab.edu/askit.

To help keep classroom technology up-to-date, UAB IT has formalized its partnership with the Office of the Provost, eLearning and Professional Development, UAB Facilities, and the Center for Teaching and Learning to collaborate on the criteria for classroom upgrades.

The committee of representatives from each organization will meet regularly to form and endorse the strategy for establishing the standard technology needed for each classroom. View classrooms supported by UAB IT here.

“Our goal is to have consistent, updated equipment so that faculty and students in provost-supported classrooms have the same technology experience from classroom to classroom,” said Jason Johnson, executive director for client success for UAB IT.

Faculty and students can check the status of each classroom here.

Learn more about classroom upgrades here.

CyberWatch Mktg DS 1

Keeping up to date on the latest phishing emails and scams will be easier with a new internal web site devoted to sharing news of such attempts.

The CyberWatch web site at uab.edu/cyberwatch, which is open to all students, faculty and staff who log in with their BlazerID and password, will share the latest phishing email attacks and scams, with tips to help you recognize those malicious attempts to steal your information.

Phishing emails are often an attempt to get your BlazerID and password — which could give thieves access to your personal and financial information, as well as data from across the University.

Log in to the CyberWatch site at uab.edu/cyberwatch to get the latest on phishing emails and other scams. Remember that not all phishing emails will be uploaded here, so use your best judgment and err on the side of caution with suspected phishing attempts.

To report phishing attempts, you can forward the suspected email to phishing@uab.edu or download PhishMe Reporter here for one-click access to report phish.

To further protect your information and your credentials, sign up for two-factor authentication at uab.edu/2factor.

Email Encryption DS 1

Protecting sensitive information you send through UAB email will be easier with encryption, which can now be applied to messages sent through Office 365 email.

There are two methods to secure information:

  • With an installed Encryption button in Outlook for 2016 for Windows.
  • By using the term [Encrypt] (including the brackets) anywhere in the subject line of your message. If you don’t have the encryption button for Outlook 2016 for Windows, this method will work for you.

Encryption ensures even greater protection for sensitive information sent via campus email.

Please remember that Restricted/PHI data such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers are still not permitted in email, regardless of encryption.

The following knowledge articles will help you download and install the encryption button and send and read encrypted emails. You will need to log in to the IT Service Portal with your BlazerID to view the images associated with the knowledge articles.

If you experience any problems with email encryption, please contact AskIT at 205-996-5555 or at uab.edu/askit.

DLP OneDrive Web

UAB IT is implementing a new configuration in OneDrive and SharePoint Online to better alert you if Restricted information is stored in your files. The new configuration will be launched May 25.

Data that is classified at UAB as “Restricted” — such as Social Security and credit card numbers — is not permitted to be stored in the cloud.

The new data loss prevention, or DLP, configuration will help prevent unintended exposure of Restricted data that could result from document sharing.

DLP will scan OneDrive and SharePoint online documents to determine those that contain Restricted data such as Social Security numbers or credit card numbers. SSNs and credit card numbers are classified as Restricted/PHI under the UAB Data Classification Rule.

If one of your files contains such information, the file will be flagged and you will see a new icon — a red circle indicating access is prohibited. Access will be restricted to the owner of the file and the last person who modified the file.

If you have a file flagged as having restricted information, you should:

  • Delete the file from OneDrive or SharePoint Online
  • Remove the restricted data from the file; or
  • Migrate the file to local, on-premise file storage. AskIT can help you with on-premise storage.

Learn more about how data loss prevention works in OneDrive and SharePoint here.

Learn more about how to remediate Restricted data in your OneDrive files here.

If you have any questions or problems with DLP, please contact AskIT at 205-996-5555, askit@uab.edu or uab.edu/askit.

AVP Research Computing Open Sessions Updated DS

Two remaining candidates for assistant vice president of research computing are set to present their ideas for the position at open forums in May.

Faculty, staff and students are invited.

Presentations include:

  • Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., will present from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, in the Cudworth Hall Auditorium.
  • Jill Gemmill, Ph.D., will present from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday, May 17, in the Cudworth Hall Auditorium.

Purushotham Bangalore, Ph.D., current interim director of research computing, presented Monday, April 30.

Dr. Bangalore is a professor of computer science in the College of Arts and Sciences and interim director for research computing in the Office of Vice President for Information Technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has 25 years of extensive experience in several areas of high-performance computing (HPC), including designing novel HPC algorithms, object-oriented libraries, message-passing middleware, multidisciplinary applications, parallel program synthesis frameworks, scalable and reliable petascale compute and storage systems, and collaborative environments. As the interim director for Research Computing, he is responsible for the design, procurement, deployment, and day-to-day operations of a 468 TFLOPS compute cluster with 6 PB storage system and a high-speed research network.

Dr. Zottola received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he remained to serve in multiple roles to develop academic, informatics and research computing infrastructure and services. He then 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. Zottola has 23 years of progressive IT executive experience. He also has faculty appointments in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing at UMassMed, where he teaches a graduate biomedical informatics course.

Dr. Gemmill has provided leadership in scientific and high-performance computing; campus and regional network infrastructure and services; federated authentication/authorization technology and infrastructure; data security technology and policy; collaboration technology standards; and scientific visualization. Her innovation has been recognized by multiple industry awards (Data Center Executive of the Year 2008; ESRI Special Achievement in GIS 2003; E-Gov “Best of the Best” Pioneer Award 2002) and she has been a principal on 30 funded awards totaling more than $30 million from funding agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, DoE, IMLS, and National Parks Service, and UAB Health Services Foundation.

The new assistant vice president of research computing will be UAB’s pioneer and chief architect of UAB Research Computing applications. Reporting to the vice president for information technology and chief information officer, the position 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.



UAB Solution Studios has been connecting students, nurses and clinicians to solve patient-centered problems.

Sprints LogoIn its first sprint project, UAB IT has partnered with UAB Solution Studios to create a tool to connect them more easily.

UAB IT has worked closely with the team behind UAB Solution Studios, an interdisciplinary team that connects clinicians and STEM students to solve patient care problems. UAB IT has developed a prototype for an online UAB Solution Studios tool that will connect students and clinicians more quickly and efficiently. The prototype is set to be showcased later this month for university officials and community members.

"It's an education as well as a product," said Nancy Wingo of UAB Solution Studios. "At the heart of it is people with a passion to help people."

Learn more about UAB Solution Studios here and about the project in the video above.

A "sprint" refers to a specific amount of time in which technology work must be completed and presented for review by the product owner. The UAB IT sprints program is designed to help create innovative solutions for campus needs. The sprints will give cross-discipline teams an opportunity to create a prototype for these solutions.

Other sprint projects include UAB-specific skills for smart devices such as Amazon Alexa; a university calendar; and chatbots for faculty questions and other campus needs.

With space leased at Innovation Depot, the intent is to give teams a creative space to find solutions and to include team members beyond IT professionals.

Box Drive is a simple way to work with all of your files — even billions of files — right from your desktop — without taking up much hard drive space.

Box Drive is part of UAB Box, available to campus faculty and staff at UAB.

Box Drive integrates with Windows File Explorer and Mac Finder, so working with files in Box Drive feels like working with files in a network drive — with added features such as external collaboration, search and version control.

When Box Drive is installed, you open your Windows Explorer or Mac Finder to find every file you need, edit as you would any local file and save it automatically to the cloud.

Among the features of Box Drive:

  • Access all files: all of your files stored in Box right from your desktop.
  • Increased security: Files are no longer stored on your hard drive, reducing the risk of data loss if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Files shared with you: Any files shared with you, including read-only, will automatically appear in Drive.
  • Save every version: Automatically retain version of files every time you click “save” and never have to worry about losing work.

To learn more about UAB Box, click here.

To learn more about using Box Drive, click here.

ResearchComputing Seminar1

UAB IT Research Computing hosted NVIDIA for a deep learning workshop on campus April 11. The seminar was divided into two sessions and was presented by engineers from NVIDIA. Both sessions were held at the Edge of Chaos and were attended by approximately 80 faculty, staff and students.  

ResearchComputing Seminar2The first session was titled “Deep Learning Demystified” and introduced key terminology, use cases from various industries, how deep learning differs from previous algorithmic approach, and covered topics on how a deep neural network gets trained, optimized, and deployed. the lecture also covered topics on how to apply deep learning to challenging problems, the types of problems benefit most from deep learning, the skills and knowledge that is needed to use deep learning, and the characteristics of successful deep learning projects. 

The second session was titled “Applied Deep Learning” and was a hands-on lab session in which the instructor led the attendees through an image classification workflow using NVIDIA DIGITS. This lab gave attendees experience in leveraging deep neural networks (DNN) — specifically convolutional neural networks (CNN) — within the deep learning workflow to solve a real-world image classification problem using NVIDIA DIGITS on top of the Caffe framework and the MNIST hand-written digits dataset.

Both seminars were well received by the UAB community and were helpful in promoting the use of the Cheaha high-performance computing platform and the GPU compute fabric at UAB.

AVP Research Computing Open Sessions Web
Candidates for assistant vice president of research computing will present their ideas for the position at open forums in coming weeks. Faculty, staff and students are invited.

Presentations include:

  • Purushotham Bangalore, Ph.D., current interim director of research computing, will present from 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, April 30, in the Cudworth Hall Auditorium.
  • Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., will present from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, in the Cudworth Hall Auditorium.

A third candidate’s presentation has not yet been scheduled.

Dr. Bangalore is a professor of computer science in the College of Arts and Sciences and interim director for research computing in the Office of Vice President for Information Technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has 25 years of extensive experience in several areas of high-performance computing (HPC), including designing novel HPC algorithms, object-oriented libraries, message-passing middleware, multidisciplinary applications, parallel program synthesis frameworks, scalable and reliable petascale compute and storage systems, and collaborative environments. As the interim director for Research Computing, he is responsible for the design, procurement, deployment, and day-to-day operations of a 468 TFLOPS compute cluster with 6 PB storage system and a high-speed research network.

Dr. Zottola received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he remained to serve in multiple roles to develop academic, informatics and research computing infrastructure and services. He then 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. Zottola has 23 years of progressive IT executive experience. He also has faculty appointments in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing at UMassMed, where he teaches a graduate biomedical informatics course.

The new assistant vice president of research computing will be UAB’s pioneer and chief architect of UAB Research Computing applications. Reporting to the vice president for information technology and chief information officer, the position 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.

April Moms Dads Grads DS 1280x720
Looking for a HOT computer sale? TechConnect has got you covered!

For UAB faculty and staff, TechConnect is offering $100 off any Dell computer. This offer is valid for TWO weeks, April 16-30. Computers must be purchased in store (online sales are not eligible).

TechConnect, located online and at the Hill Student Center, offers educational pricing on computers, tablets and accessories, as well as service for your devices. Have any questions? Call TechConnect today at 205-934-8333.