Brett Coryell, UTS, and Cost Savings featured in Emory Report

Oct. 19, 2009
Emory Report

IT Officer Nets Savings In Costs, Time

Waging cyber war against hackers and spammers, University Technology Services (UTS) operates as the custodian of Emory's mammoth telecommunications network.

And Deputy Chief Information Officer Brett Coryell knows there is nothing more frustrating than to have the backbone of University and Healthcare operations crash at a moment's notice.

The number one cause of outages is human error, he says. And that can be fixed through process.

Coryell and his team have tweaked several processes, reaping significant cost savings for the University. Two years ago, Coryell joined Emory to lead a newly consolidated IT division, merging Academic and Administrative Technology and Network Communications into UTS. What followed was the Next Wave, a restructuring effort during the summer of 2008 that involved employees from all levels of IT, working with stakeholders from across the University. The result: Streamlining 100 IT positions with a net savings of $1.5 million.

Brett did a great job of keeping everyone on track and reinforcing the reasons why the institution was going through the exercise, says Rich Mendola, vice president for IT and chief information officer. I couldn't think of anyone I would have rather had leading the process.

Adds Coryell: It was a complete team effort from all levels of the organization. That's the only way you can get the really big things done.

Among the improvements was the creation of a specialized group of project managers to ensure tasks are completed on time and within budget. UTS also enhanced communication with departments, and elevated standards for training and technical review for common system changes and upgrades. For instance, to limit disruption, no changes can be made to the firewall during extended working hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Demand for new servers and storage has exploded since Emory first established an IT presence on campus in 1965. Through server virtualization, which can safely divide a single computer into multiple virtual computers, the department has saved more than a million kilowatt-hours of power a year and avoided adding expensive data center space.

UTS recently presented an annual report that exceeds the University's 10 percent target for cost containment. Among the areas to trim, UTS proposed that it no longer lease phones to individual departments and absorb the cost of the equipment, with a projected savings to the University of nearly $1 million. Future efforts involve adding wireless networking to residence halls and faculty and administrative offices, and expanding the PeopleSoft Human Resources application to include a time-keeping function.

Before coming to Emory, Coryell served as executive director and deputy CIO for Purdue University and held several senior management positions at Sprint. Cost-effective strategies can work for any department, he notes, such as dropping duplicate services and attempting to negotiate better contracts with vendors.

We have to continually grow at the same time we're trying to cut costs, he says.

-By Margie Fishman

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