Primary Responsibilities – Technical Services Unit – currently organized into five teams.
The Technical Services Unit has several large and multi-year projects that started in 2016 and continuing into and through planning cycles to achieve a 5-year refresh plan. Projects include: Expanding district network capacity to the Internet, Expanding network capacity to the colleges, Creating reliable network links between the colleges and district datacenters, redesigning district-wide network and connectivity architecture, upgrading district-wide wireless networking infrastructure, replacing core and distribution switching infrastructure in LRCCD datacenters, replacing core and distribution switching infrastructures at all LRCCD colleges, modernize the district data centers with SmartRow technology, and document and enforce district-wide infrastructure standards. The Technical Services Unit successfully completed 10Gbps CENIC connectivity to the DO and FLC Datacenters, Skype for Business VoIP rollout, 10Gbps Firewall replacement at the DO and FLC Datacenters including Intrusion Prevention System replacement, Fax Server system implementation, Centralized Wireless Controller Upgrade using an N+1 approach to service continuity, and the removal of the 20+ year old NEC PBX telephony environment.
2015-17 Accomplishments and Status
2015-2017 Technical Services Unit Assessment Results, Gaps, and Initiatives
In the Spring of 2016, the Technical Services Unit was assessed externally by the CampusWorks assessment team. This represents the second year that the Unit has engaged in both internally and externally conducted assessments of overall Information Architecture, Network Services, Customer Service, Security, IT Alignment and Organizational Structure, and the overall Technology Environment as it relates to the Student Experience. Subsequent dialogue produced general consensus on the existence of significant operational risks and meaningful gaps between where we believe we are and where we believe we need to be. The gaps and risks were reviewed by DOIT leadership and reviewed with College IT staff. It became clear that several gap/risks stood out from the others as requiring special attention. CampusWorks placed the gaps in the category of “Infrastructure, Network, and Security.” CampusWorks focused their recommendations on Resources, Resource Allocations, Project Management, and Governance (Roles & Responsibilities differentiation between College IT staff and DOIT staff). Many of the CampusWorks recommendations will need to be addressed at levels above the Technical Services Unit. For the Technical Services Unit, we are using six areas of gap/risk as focal points as they were consistently identified in all assessments. The first three gap/risk areas, Backup & Recoverability Architecture, Wireless Architecture, and Datacenter Architecture were investigated and scoped using internal resources and were conducted by DOIT staff in conjunction with College IT staff and Facilities Management staff. These assessments were later validated by the CampusWorks Second Opinion Technology Assessment. Below is a high-level summary of critical gaps and their resulting initiatives.
Several urgent projects or initiatives remain unresolved from the earlier assessments. Examples of these projects and initiatives include but are not limited to the following:
The next three risk areas were assessed externally by technology professionals specializing in key areas of Network Architecture and reliable network service delivery. The Technical Services Unit contracted with Shandam Consulting for a professional technical assessment of the LRCCD Network Core Architecture, Internet Connectivity Architecture, and Firewall Architecture. Below is a high-level summary of findings, recommendations, and resulting initiatives from each of the assessments.
For more than 10 years, only one of the districts four colleges has had an independent connection to the Internet. Each of the other colleges is dependent upon leased fiber connections back to the district office data center for their access to district resources and the Internet. In some cases, a single strand of fiber is the only thing connecting a Los Rios College (e.g. CRC) to our Network. Assessments conducted over the last two years have identified critical gaps in our ability to deliver services to students.
As identified last year, the Technical Services Unit, in collaboration with the colleges, must design, architect, engineer and implement a secure, reliable, performant and effective network that meets LRCCD business objectives and is integrated to the highest degree possible to ensure both the effectiveness and efficiency of maintenance and support activities. These necessary network upgrades will not be limited to services and equipment alone as business practices, maintenance cycles, operational tasks, support activities, and overall manageability, performance, and reliability are dependent upon the solutions chosen. Affected areas of the network include: Internet connectivity, routing, firewalls, switching infrastructure at all levels, wireless services, and all voice, video, and data services. The Technical Services unit approached and successfully petitioned the State Chancellors Office and CENIC for improved connectivity. Please see the attached “Connectivity Update” for details on the CENIC primary connectivity approach as well as information on the RFP for Secondary connectivity options.
The team will continue to work with third-party networking consultants to ensure that LRCCD business objectives are the focus and foundation for technical solutions. The results of these two efforts will form the foundation for LRCCD to build the technological infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of our students today and to be fit to compete in the future.
Data operability and recoverability are key topics both for the district office and for each of the LRCCD colleges. The Technical Services unit recently expanded the storage area network in our primary and secondary data centers to address system performance issues. They also acquired, installed, and configured both the backup and recovery disk solutions and the backup and recovery software solutions necessary to meet LRCCD business objectives. The next step was to secure, equip, and connect an appropriate “third-site” to meet district-wide data protection and disaster recovery needs. The district’s disk-to-disk-to-tape model has been successfully replaced with a disk-to-disk-to-disk model with multiple options for both continuity and recoverability including the use of remote third site storage.