Project Updates

Symplicity is Coming to Emory

"I've always been fascinated with the idea that complexity can come out of such simplicity." - Will Wright

Symplicity is a hosted solution offering universities a suite of products for managing student affairs. These products provide academic administrators with tools to support students in areas of career services, conduct, student events, success and retention, and others.

Symplicity products are attractive as they offer inexpensive annual licensing, are modular, and integrate with PeoplesSoft data, Exchange calendaring, and Learning Management Systems, such as Blackboard. They also offer a range of communication features for notifying students through different channels, including texts, email, live chat, and Facebook. Because the products are modular, they can also be configured to share select data between the various products on campus.

There has already been some adoption of Symplicity products across campus, particularly within Campus Life, the Goizueta Business School, and the Law School. Some of the modules currently implemented are those for Career Services, Student Events & Activities, Student Conduct, and ePortfolios. I have been working with Emory College, Oxford College, and School of Nursing to adopt the Symplicity Insight product for student success and retention.

Such products are often referred to as "early alert" or "early intervention" solutions because they help identify at-risk students early on, and connect them with the university staff and resources they need to get back on track and improve in their studies. This can ultimately increase student retention as well.

For students, Symplicity Insight offers:

Additionally, for administrators working with students, Insight offers:

Presently, the Symplicity business case is being reviewed by the ITSC governance committee on Student Services. We hope to have it more to the project phase in the January timeframe.

- José Rodriguez, Manager, Academic Technology Services

End of an Era: The Nortel Switch is No More

From L to R: Zedric Brooks, James Sawyer, Laura Smith, Tommy Barwick, Mike Politinsky, Beck Hancock, and Billy Tice.

On December 7, members of UTS toasted the old Nortel telephony switch in a private celebration in the Cox Hall switch room, as the switch was finally retired following 26 years of service. Emory is now using a more modern Avaya switching system, which consists of a single platform. The project completion represented thousands of hours of work and involved staff from all over UTS.

To give one an idea of how Emory has grown, when the decision was made to move away from Centrex (built in the 1970's) and bid on an individual switch (in 1984 when the Nortel switch was selected), the bid went out at 4,500 stations, the contract was signed for 5,500 stations, the switch went into service with 6,500 stations, the five-year growth was planned for 7,000 stations, and at five years the University had 10,000 stations. When Avaya won the new bid, Emory had about 30,000 lines.

When the original switch was put into place, the Emory University chaplain (Donald G. Shockley) said a little prayer and blessed the switch before it was turned on in 1985. In the twenty-six years of service, the Nortel switch, which still utilized its original switchboard, survived a fire, a flood, a mudslide, and several power outages. The switch's generator never failed.

Perry Eidson (infrastructure), who made a career out of managing the switch, and Joseph Massey (UTS), who was the driving force for bringing Avaya to Emory, did the honors to shut down the Nortel switch for the last time. In a scene reminiscent of disabling the HAL-9000 computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ancient machine was shut down by pulling several redundant memory/processor cards simultaneously.

"That's it, it's dead!" said Perry.

Other OIT employees in attendance for the ceremony were Tommy Barwick (Enterprise Services), Marisa Benson (PMO), Zedric Brooks (Enterprise Services), Becky Hancock (IT F&A), Joe Head (Infrastructure), Joe Johnson (Infrastructure), Mike Politinsky (Infrastructure), James Sawyer (Enterprise Services), Laura Smith (Infrastructure), Billy Tice (PMO), and David Topper (Infrastructure).

Newly Integrated Simon Directory

"Our goal is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible." - Larry Page

On December 16, University Technology Services (UTS) Messaging began the process of integrating and automating the database that is used by SimonWeb, Simon Speech, e.Notify and the Emory call center operators with Emory source data systems. This change helps to better ensure that people-related data in the Simon database is accurate and up to date for more effective use by the Emory community and the Emory call center.

The following list of data attributes were updated once the process was completed:

  • Name
  • Division
  • Specialty
  • Phone Numbers
  • Emergency Notify Data
  • Salutation
  • Department
  • Title
  • Email Address
  • Pager Data

- Felicia Bianchi, Project Manager, PMO