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Fiscal Health | Washington State University

Information Technology Services response

President Schulz has frequently communicated about the need for the university to get its fiscal house in order. Even this week, he sent out a note regarding some steps that are being taken across WSU to meet this challenge.

We in ITS also have to do our part. Facing a 2.5% reduction this year and possibly more in the coming years, we need a multi-year strategy that both provides needed services to the university and is fiscally sound. These reductions or better said, savings, will remain within ITS and not repurposed by the university.

We have articulated the position of moving services into the cloud and owning less infrastructure. We are well along in this journey. This year we completed the migration of all centrally managed mailboxes into Office 365. This has also yielded additional benefits as the use of OneDrive with very large storage and ability to access files from anywhere, anytime, using any device, securely. In addition, WSU avoided at least $500K worth of expenses in having to replace the aging server farm that supported the on premise implementation of Exchange. We have moved R25 Live, the scheduling software with multiple instances into the cloud. We are making preparations to have our mainframe environment hosted by IBM, who will provide the necessary hardware and offer it back to us as Infrastructure as a Service. We are also looking at deploying a WSU wide VM as a Service in the cloud and looking at moving the VoIP environment into the cloud. WSU is evaluating proposals currently to look at cloud implementations of HR, Payroll and Finance. We will also renegotiate our service contracts currently held by Original Equipment Manufacturers and move them to third party service agreements wherever possible.

We are also working with other departments around the university to identify redundant services and to evaluate whether we can provide these services at a reduced cost to the university. Endpoint Management and VM as a Service, rank high on this list. Ticketing software and how Tier 1 Help Desk is provisioned will be reviewed to see if there are some opportunities to serve WSU better.

The whole philosophy of who we are as an organization is changing. Moving forward, we are going to own less and less of infrastructure, deploy more applications as Software as a Service and focus on solving customer problems. Making this transition is not easy and will create challenges that require our collective will and effort to be successful. Some of these changes might also impact staffing and hiring.

While strategic discussions continue for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, we do have a plan to meet the current fiscal year 2018 expenditure reduction of 2.5% or $362,833 and $128,262 for Areas 25 and 29, respectively. These reductions will come from a combination of terminating contracts that has minimal impact, shifting to third-party hardware support contracts where possible, not hiring in areas that have seen some vacancies and holding in reserve, a portion of our general operational funds.

I look forward for your support in effecting this transition. I ask each of you to work with the ITS Leadership team to embrace these changes to not only help serve the university better, but also do it in a way that still advances the university mission in a cost-effective manner with reduced risks. I am open to other ideas you might have to serve our university even better. To facilitate this, I will be holding an all-hands meeting with all of you soon.

I thank you for everything that you do on a daily basis to serve our customers and raise the profile of WSU.

Sasi K. Pillay, Ph.D.
Vice President & CIO Information Technology Services