Summer holds major change for ISC Information Systems and Computing will be undergoing massive restructuring starting this summer and continuing into the fall. Acting Vice Provost for ISC James O'Donnell said a University-wide task force has been analyzing all of Penn computing since the fall. The task force is sponsored by Provost Stanley Chodorow and Executive Vice President John Fry. The result is a new model for computing services across Penn, which centralizes the support and services available to the University community, according to Undergraduate English Chairperson Al Filreis, who has been working closely on the initiative. O'Donnell, a classical studies professor, said the organization will take two directions -- a "renewed emphasis on customer satisfaction as the chief measure of our effectiveness," and "greater internal cohesiveness and teamwork in the organization." The first step is to condense ISC into one organization. As a result, Data Communications and Computing Systems, University Management Information Services have been combined. Among other things, DCCS operated PennNet and its Internet gateways. It also installed departmental connections to the network. UMIS worked with University clients to "acquire, develop and maintain core business systems," according to the ISC homepage. The restructuring also yielded several internal changes (see box). The restructured ISC will focus on secondary services. For example, Penn's network will be run as a regulated public utility, incorporating telephone and video services. DCCS ran a similar, but unregulated, network. According to Filreis, the new network is superior because it will allow the schools to choose their service. "A governing board will make sure that the people who run the network will be responsive to the people who use it," he said. ISC will also be running service bureaus like Wharton Reprographics. It would be responsible for selling services to any of its interested customers, such as support-on- site, training, application development and integration services, according to a model draft. And customers will only have to pay for the services they need. "Right now the funding service is screwed up because people do not feel they are getting what they pay for," Filreis said. The restructuring also changes the University's approach to primary support -- the resources available to teach people how to use the applications. There is currently a major lack in primary support for undergraduates, Filreis said. The new system is attempting to compensate for that. "More than likely we are going to experiment with delivering primary support through the residences," he said. This fall, Van Pelt College House will be officially providing a pilot program to see if such support can be delivered. The project is funded by the provost's office through the 21st Century initiative, Filreis said. He explained that if the pilot works on-campus, it will also be able to involve off-campus residents living in collegiate communities under the proposed college house system. There are six additional pilots being tested out as well. Filreis said ISC needs to be the central unit that calls the meetings for all the businesses across campus to ensure that they all have the same standards. "It's ISC that is in the position to call all the players and say 'let's agree on these standards,' " he said. Filreis added that as an incentive for workers to increase the standards of their computer labs, O'Donnell intends to install a matching funds program through ISC. He explained that the labs in the residences have been suffering because the fixed room rents do not provide a sufficient budget to combat rising costs.Comments powered by Disqus
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