What's Happening In Technology Sectors

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ERP PARTNERSHIP. In an effort to save money and improve efficiency, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University are partnering to share the human resources and finance components of their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Both campuses will invest equal resources-- equipment and staffing-- to upgrade to the latest version of Oracle's PeopleSoft software by 2013. Four task committees are exploring the collaboration possibilities for the technical infrastructure, the chart of accounts, and the overall human resources and financial systems. For instance, staffers are considering PeopleSoft's eProcurement module for early implementation; the system includes a commodity-tracking function that may help support efforts at both schools to negotiate better prices.

CAMPUSWIDE WIMAX. This past fall, Northern Michigan University launched a mobile WiMAX network built with Motorola wireless broadband infrastructure. The new highspeed campuswide wireless broadband service coincides with the 10th anniversary of the school's laptop program; the university gives WiMAX-enabled laptop PCs to all students as part of their tuition, as well as to all faculty and staff. NMU's local community also will benefit: The school is providing WiMAX access to local school and municipal offices within a 30-mile radius. The mobile network currently consists of four sites, with plans to expand to seven locations. Backhaul for the WiMAX network is provided by Motorola's point-to-point wireless broadband solution.

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IU'S NEW DATA CENTER features a bunkered wall design and 12-foothigh earthen berm, designed to protect critical IT infrastructure from natural calamities.

A FORTRESS FOR DATA. In November, Indiana University formally dedicated its new $32.7 million Data Center. The 88,000- square-foot structure houses the university's core IT infrastructure, including the supercomputers Big Red and Quarry, as well as the Bloomington hub of Indiana's statewide ILight network. To help ensure the continuity of essential and critical IT services for the university community, the building is designed to withstand an F5 tornado, with just one low-slung, disaster-resistant story above ground. The Data Center houses three machine rooms-- the Enterprise, Research, and Future Research pods-- plus a centralized "war room" and an operations center. Any data written on any device in a Data Center machine room is also written automatically to a comparable device at the Informatics and Communications Technology Center, a peer facility on the Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis campus, mitigating the risk of lost or destroyed data.

Campus + IndustryTELEPRESENCE FOR BUSINESS EDUCATION. The University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business is using Cisco's TelePresence technology to deliver a range of global executive-education and graduate-level business and management courses. The high-definition conferencing will provide students and executives around the world with a live learning and meeting environment, enabling a variety of blended learning options for participating in business-education programs. Via the TelePresence system, participants will be able to collaborate with each other in a life-size, high-definition environment, as if they were meeting in the same room.

HPC AT BROWN. Brown University (RI) and IBM are sharing investment in a multimillion-dollar supercomputer at the school's Center for Computation and Visualization. The high-performance computer can perform 14 trillion calculations per second-- nearly 50 times faster than what previously had been available at the university-- and will be used by researchers statewide to tackle research on climate change, education, energy, and health. The core system has 166 compute nodes, each with two Intel Xeon E5540 (quad-core Nehalem) processors, 24GB RAM, and a QDR (40 Gbps) Infiniband network interface. Read more here.

Campus + IndustryMOBILE FUNDRAISING. Texting "52000" and the code "HT" on a cell phone will forward $5 to Huston-Tillotson University (TX) as part of a new mobile giving campaign. Through technology from mobile billing infrastructure vendor Wireless Factory, each $5 contribution is charged directly to a subscriber's cell phone bill. The program was designed to attract and encourage giving from recent graduates.

CLOUD COLLABORATION. IBM has launched the IBM Cloud Academy, a global forum for educators, researchers, and IT personnel from the education industry to pursue cloud computing initiatives, develop skills, and share best practices. George Mason University (VA), Georgia State University, Marist College (NY), New York University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County are among 17 educational institutions around the world participating in the Cloud Academy. Participants will be able to collaborate via the internet using an IBM-managed cloud, work jointly on technical projects across institutions, and share research findings. The Cloud Academy also hopes to further advance cloud computing by preparing education-focused open source software for clouds, integrating cloud provisioning and de-provisioning services, validating content for compliance with accessibility standards, and leveraging IBM cloud offerings for teaching, learning, research, and administration.

GIVING BACK WITH WIRELESS. As part of its efforts to revitalize the local community, Wayne State University (MI) will supply the technical, strategic, and systems support to provide high-speed WiMAX and WiFi internet access for residents in two low-income Detroit neighborhoods. The project is being funded by an $810,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The university is undertaking the initiative under the auspices of the Community Telecommunications Network, a Detroit consortium created in 1990 to manage a group of cable channels shared by school districts, public television, and other organizations in the area. Read more here.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, GO ONLINE. As part of its emergency preparedness plan, Ancilla College (IN) has set up OPEN (Online Preparation for Emergency Needs), a system from online-education provider Learning House that allows course offerings to be administered in an online environment in the case of a pandemic or natural disaster. When disaster strikes, all the college's courses and programs move to 100 percent online delivery within 24 hours, to ensure that learning is not disrupted. OPEN operates on the Moodle learning management system and serves as an emergency portal with pre-loaded course shells, enrollment information, and easy access to instructor, school, and student contact information. Once operational, the portal is made available until two weeks following the end of the term.

Campus + IndustryGREEN POWER DEAL. The San Diego Community College District (CA) recently approved a 20-year agreement with solar power contractor Borrego Solar Systems to construct and maintain a photovoltaic system that will provide about 2.4 megawatts of green energy annually at six locations in the district. Borrego Solar will build, operate, and maintain the solar power system, and sell the generated solar energy back to the district at discounted rates-- allowing the district to access and use solar-generated energy without up front capital costs or operational expenses. Read more here.

SOCIAL LEARNING. Howard Community College (MD) has selected ConnectYard's social-learning service to enhance academic support and build a greater sense of community among students. ConnectYard's QuickConnect Widget for Blackboard allows students to ask and respond to lecture and homework questions via popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as via text message. Tutors from the college's Academic Support Services department can join the discussion via e-mail, without the need to log in to Blackboard or a social networking site. The ConnectYard service also allows students, staff, and tutors to interact with each other through both Facebook and Twitter, without the need to "friend" or "follow" one another, thus avoiding potential privacy or security concerns.

TRAINING FOR IT. Western Governors University (online) has announced its membership in the Microsoft IT Academy program. WGU has incorporated Microsoft training curricula, courseware, and certifications into its competency-based IT degree programs; all of the school's bachelor's degree programs in IT include at least one Microsoft Certification.

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