Information Technology (IT) is committed to a course of action that will identify and research all possible methods of cooperation and collaboration that will assist our constituent UNC institutions to either reduce costs or improve services, preferably both. Currently, there are several groups pursuing possibilities for collaborative initiatives and advising IT on several existing cooperative efforts that provide lower costs and improved services. The three primary groups, comprised of campus representatives, are the CIO Council, the Shared Services Alliance, and the Information Technology Security Council. The following are among the many areas of initiatives currently being explored by these three groups:
Bulk Pricing – The purchasing power provided by the combined needs of all 17 UNC institutions is far greater than that of an individual school or of a consortium of several of the schools. Hence, a vendor is more likely to offer higher discounts to the UNC system than to an individual institution. In practice, this commercial fact of life has provided our smaller institutions with a level of purchasing strength that they could not have achieved on their own. The management and staff of IT are always attuned to new and better methods to extend the purchasing power of our constituent institutions through system-wide pricing agreements with vendors for products and services. In addition, IT works through other external agencies (State ITS and EDUCAUSE) with even greater critical mass of purchasing power to get the best available prices.
Central Contracting - The IT division has negotiated and completed many central contracts with vendors of the most highly-used hardware and software products. All of the existing vendor contracts are listed on this web site and can be viewed by any UNC constituent institution with a valid user id/password. On frequent occasions, the IT management solicits ideas from the campus CIOs as to other vendor products and services that should have a central master contract. Currently, several new vendor contract negotiations are underway.
Shared Technicians – At present, the IT division employs several skilled Oracle Database Analysts who utilized their technical skills in service to the subscribing campuses. The campuses pay a fee for a part time or full time DBA and receive the needed service on demand and when most useful. It would not be affordable for some of our campuses to employ an experienced DBA themselves, so this shared pool methodology is employed to ensure that all participating institutions have competent DBA support for their enterprise systems. As the DBA shared pool technique has proven successful, IT has now begun to provide the same type of subscription support for System Administrators.
Common Solutions – As it is quite inefficient for each of our constituent institutions to “reinvent the wheel” for every need that arises, all of our collaborative committees are constantly on the alert for system solutions that may be used elsewhere. In addition, several initiatives are underway to create standard solutions to new system requirements to assure that each campus is not involved in a redundant work effort that has been completed elsewhere. It is a strategic direction for UNC to be even more vigilant in seeking and identifying common solutions to multi-institutional system needs.
Shared Banner Hosting and Central Disaster/Recovery – An exciting initiative that is now being developed is the creation and replication of a central information technology infrastructure for hosting the campus ERP and Disaster/Recovery applications. It is an area with the promise of significant cost reduction and more efficient human resource utilization as many of the physical IT infrastructure environmental needs are common and quite expensive. As the IT division gains hosting experience, the staff will gain added competence to enhance our ability to host additional institutions and other mission critical applications such as Learning Management Systems and Document Imaging. It is expected that the hosting initiative will pay major dividends over time, so IT has designated this service as a strategic direction for investment.