3.4 Systems & Platforms (SPA)

Systems & Platforms (SPA) works in partnership with campus IT providers, especially IT departments, to provide for and sustain reliable, available, and responsive computing infrastructure. Our work helps our partners deliver information technology services to students, faculty, and staff of the University, and to external customers who are important to the University mission.

The Systems & Platforms department provides computing environments that enhance the academic, administrative, teaching, and research functions of the University. SPA also provides comprehensive management or assists with the management of Large Systems, Unix Systems, Windows Services, Enterprise Client Management, Directory and Authentication Services, and Computer Operations at The University of Iowa. The Systems & Platforms department is committed to providing secure, reliable, cost-effective services using the most appropriate and efficient technological tools available. SPA is responsible for hardware and software installation, configuration, and maintenance. The department is also responsible for resource management, troubleshooting, and storage services, including backup and security. The Systems and Platform Administration department is organized by server, client, directory, and operations support. For more information on any of these services, please contact the SPA director.

  1. a. Large Systems. The Large Systems work group provides hardware and software support for the IBM zSeries enterprise server for the University. The Large Systems enterprise server provides services and support for personnel, student, and accounting information for the University. The Large Systems support staff provides service and support for academic and administrative enterprise computing. The group provides installation, configuration, and support of the operating environment, data repositories, transaction servers, and end user computing utilities and languages. The group manages the troubleshooting, data backup and restore, security, and the printing facilities in the IBM zSeries environment.
  2. b. Unix Systems. The Unix Systems work group provides storage service and management of Unix and Linux servers. The Unix group supports the campus computing infrastructure as well as various academic and administrative services at the departmental level. Supported services include campus email, web services, the library online catalog system, VMware, the Red Hat Network Satellite patch and update distribution service, digital asset management, and the PeopleSoft financial and human resource applications. Typical tasks include system installation and configuration, application installation, troubleshooting, backups and restores, and assisting with computer security.
  3. c. Windows Services. The Windows Services work group provides server management and application hosting services to departments. Services include security patching, hardware, software updates, and communications. Supported services include shared campus Active Directory forest domain controllers, campus email/calendaring, web services, file and print, and the course management system. Typical tasks include system installation and configuration, application installation, troubleshooting, backups and restores, and assisting with computer security.
  4. d. Enterprise Client Management. The Enterprise Client Management Services work group provides Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) tools for delegated administration of departmental machines and Citrix support for web access to applications from Windows, Macintosh, and Linux workstations. SCCM for desktop administrators provides: 1) remote control for troubleshooting clients; 2) security patch management; 3) application deployment that allows you to automate installation of specific applications to targeted machines; and 4) asset tracking to monitor both software and hardware inventory.
  5. e. Directory and Authentication Services. The Directory and Authentication Services work group provides Identity and Access Management (IAM) services for the University community. The IAM infrastructure is an integrated system of policies, procedures, business rules, and technologies used to facilitate and control user access to critical online applications and resources while protecting confidential personal and business information from unauthorized users. IAM solutions support user authentication, access rights, service profiles, password strength requirements and changes, and other processes that enable simpler sign-on for campus applications and services.
  6. Major aspects of this IAM infrastructure include: 1) Enterprise Directory Service, 2) Enterprise Authentication (HawkID), 3) Active Directory, 4) security and protection of confidential data, 5) web services, 6) service provisioning, 7) tools for administration and self-service, 8) policy, and 9) enablement of campus applications.
  7. f. Computer Operations and Data Center Management. The Computer Operations and Data Center Management work group provides resources for day-to-day operation of the central University of Iowa computing systems, including Academic Computing and Administrative Computing. The Operations group is responsible for the scheduling, execution, examination, and dispersal of computer output. This includes doing problem determination, problem tracking, and customer assistance. The group is responsible for monitoring the diverse systems and physical infrastructure of ITS computing and data storage facilities.
  8. g. Enterprise Storage. The Enterprise Storage Team is responsible for maintaining the University's centralized storage infrastructure. The group manages hundreds of terabytes of Fibre Channel and ATA disk capacity, Fibre Channel Storage Area Network fabrics based on Brocade switching hardware, EMC storage arrays, and Network Appliance storage systems.

The enterprise storage infrastructure supports many critical applications, including campus email, institutional databases, student records and registration systems, course management systems, library automation systems, VMware clusters, user and departmental file space, and research applications.