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Michael Barker

J. Michael Barker

Interim Vice Chancellor for IT
& Chief Information Officer


Welcome to Information Technology Services’s 2018-2019 Annual Report. It is next to impossible to capture the breadth and depth of ITS’s relationship to the activities, initiatives and services of UNC-Chapel Hill. Instead, what we do in this annual report is describe a collection of accomplishments from over the year and convey an informative sample.

You will see stories related to each of ITS’s operating divisions. They range from long-term partnerships like the 10-year relationship between the Center for Faculty Excellence and Teaching & Learning to short-term joint efforts like Enterprise Reporting’s data analytics work with Financial Aid and Admissions or with the Operational Excellence teams. We hope to give a sense for how ITS furthers individual projects and how ITS prepares the University for future needs. Stories on Esports and the UNC Check-In mobile app demonstrate these themes. The annual report also illuminates how we’re accelerating our capabilities with cloud providers and how Research Computing’s relationship with Google Compute Platform is extending and enabling research.

At the end of 2018, through a multi-organizational, University-wide effort centered out of Enterprise Applications, we updated the Financials modules of ConnectCarolina to PeopleSoft version 9.2. This completed the upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2 for the entire ConnectCarolina platform. We explain why this upgrade is especially significant.

In early 2019, Infrastructure & Operations’ Middleware Services team deployed in Amazon Web Services an institutionally scoped Tableau system, to campus. The information technology was ready and waiting, and is ready and waiting, for the University to catch up. We learned by doing. We have included an overview. The Information Security Office continues to improve the risk assessment process and has released an InfoSec podcast that has met wide acclaim. It’s akin to CarTalk for those who are IT security practitioners, those who want to learn about it, or those who want to see that information security can be entertaining.

You will see stories regarding ServiceNow throughout. If you read nothing else, read the stories about this. Taking this wayward and languishing initiative of a better way to interact with information technology organizations, of asking for help, or reporting a problem, from vision to reality in less than 3.5 months — with more people from outside ITS than inside it — was unprecedented. The fundamental principles of privileging the “customer” or “user” experience and his/her convenience as an overriding value permeated the project. We often hear people talk about serving customers, talk about shared decision-making and initiatives between centralized and decentralized units, and talk about the significance of information technology for an organization. Together, the campus IT community and ITS did much more than talk: we did it. We showed, together, an ability to lead, to listen, to act, to deliver, to see uncertainty as an opportunity to learn, to experiment and adjust according to results, and to take on organizational change with optimism. The ServiceNow project has become a best-in-class exemplar for other institutions.

To wrap up, it is worth noting a few things you will not see. You will not see stories explaining how ITS is involved every time you view a webpage, read an email, make or change a calendar appointment, have an antivirus update, get a paycheck, record your time, fire up Zoom, post to Sakai, print a term paper, add or drop a class, sit in a classroom where the instructor does anything other than lecture, make a phone call, pay a bill, post a position, report a phish, etc. You will not see a recounting of attacks the firewalls block, nightly backups to local systems, nightly backups to Microsoft Azure, files read or written, sign-ins to anything with an Onyen or with multi-factor authentication, etc. In other words, you will not see all the other stuff.

And I almost forgot to mention what might be my favorite: we now have a 1-year Onyen password expiration. Sometimes the “small things” matter most.

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J. Michael Barker, Interim Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer