In an attempt to keep pace with the evolving information age, the University has plans to combine the three largest Information Technology service providers on campus.
The University will combine the Information Technology Central Services (ITCS), Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS) and Information Technology Security Services (ITSS) into one main IT organization. The merger is a response to requests from some of the University’s schools and colleges for more centrally delivered IT services.
The merger of the three IT services will go into effect by Apr. 20, but the new organization will probably not be completed until summer.
The new organization will be headed by Laura Patterson, the current associate vice president for MAIS and ITSS. Patterson will be responsible for directing the transformation of IT on campus and will report to the University’s chief financial officer and vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“The main idea is that we want to coordinate IT better at the center,” said John King, Vice Provost for Academic Information.
King said that merging the University’s three existing technology branches would help create a more coordinated operation. He added that University officials have considered combining the organizations for more than a year.
He also hopes the merger will help the University to “explore much more aggressively how to make information more available on mobile phones, such as iPhones and Blackberries.”
According to a press release, faculty, researchers, and academic IT professionals will work together to provide input for the merger process.
“This action will change the way (IT personnel) operate and interact with the schools and colleges,” Patterson wrote in an e-mail interview. She added that the schools and colleges “will be free to redeploy their resources towards the unique needs of their discipline and students.”
Patterson wrote in the e-mail that the biggest benefactors of the change will be faculty, staff and students and added that the goal of the merger will be to enable the University to “expand their research capability, connect in new ways and improve IT support and services such as security and storage.”
Though students won’t see any difference in the services — they will still be able to go to the same places for help and the computer sites will still run the same — Patterson said there will be many benefits from the merger.
“In the future, this move will better position us to provide the media-rich experience expected by today’s students and offer new services such as mobile computing,” Patterson wrote.
She added that any cost efficiencies gained from the merger would be redirected toward building the University’s “cyber infrastructure.”
“Most importantly, we want to ensure that we offer our faculty and researchers the most technologically sophisticated services and infrastructure possible, and our students the highest quality educational and learning environment,” Patterson said.
One area the new organization will target, she added, will be to support the “enormous biological databases needed for human genome sequencing.”