Alignment to deliver world-class research ecosystems

Kendra KetchumUTSA CIO and Vice President for Information Management and Technology, spoke on the importance of partnerships to drive digital transformation alongside NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce Laurie Locascio and Chief Dell Deborah Stokes. Moderated by Al Grassoformer President and CEO of MITER Corporation, the panel explored the world-class model that UTSA has created in conjunction with Dell and NIST for a high-performance computing research ecosystem and resilient infrastructure.

Over the past two years, UTSA has partnered with Dell to expand its research infrastructure, including hardware, software and virtual environments, and invest in high-performance computing (HPC), improving operations and security.

“This group came together to come up with a strategic idea around delivering world-class technology for our research business,” Ketchum explained. “My goal was to reduce the time spent on science by expanding and elevating the research infrastructure and adding better computing resources. This allowed researchers to not have to worry about setting up their own ecosystems and to focus on getting their research results.

Invest in research infrastructure to reduce time spent on science

“Investing in our hyperconverged infrastructure allowed us to really leverage Dell’s expertise,” Ketchum explained. “Leveraging Dell’s engineering and HPC skills allowed us to perform infrastructure upgrades and replacements to fill a void for our research community. We know that if we want our researchers to get results faster – by reducing the time spent on science – we need to be as committed to strategic thinking and innovation as they are.

Importance of standardization in cyber for the protection of intellectual property

The government partnership came into play when UTSA followed NIST guidelines on cybersecurity, which was a critical component. As a former vice president for research in academia, Locascio understands the intricacies and nuances of a research environment. His office is responsible for setting cyber standards for the country.

The security of intellectual property and research is a growing international concern to which universities must be prepared to respond. Universities and other institutions are subject to hacking attempts by mature state actors and criminals who attempt to steal identities and seek intellectual property to wreak havoc around the world. By building a system to NIST standards, UTSA has created a resilient environment that can withstand the more than one million intrusion attempts that take place every day.

UTSA’s new hyperconverged infrastructure, combined with the State of Texas cybersecurity framework, gives the institution a very mature platform and portfolio for cybersecurity research. Students benefit from this advanced ecosystem to go out and truly research everything in cyberspace, including data security, incident management, and response, all elements of a fully functioning ecosystem.

Based on her collaborative work with industry and government, Ketchum was asked to speak about IT research and security practices. UTSA is a model in this field with IT systems that protect not only researchers and their intellectual property, but also the institution and the continuity of its activities, ensuring that the university remains online and operates efficiently around the clock. .

Partnerships that deliver innovative solutions and secure ecosystems beyond campus

Beyond GUIRR, Ketchum has also shared this achievement with his Leadership Board for CIOs (LBCIO) peers across the United States over the past several months. Interest is high.

“I get questions from peers across the country about how we did what we did and what actions we took. Sharing our story with others is so important,” Ketchum said. “We have reduced the time devoted to science. Researchers are getting their results sooner than expected. We have built a comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity data center by breaking down silos and focusing on the outcomes desired by all of our stakeholders. »

Jaclyn ShawActing Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise, who is now the university’s representative to GUIRR, was also present.

“It was just a great opportunity to showcase the work that Kendra and the University Technology Solutions team are doing on behalf of UTSA. What we have done under Kendra’s leadership is truly a best practice and model among institutions. of higher education in the United States,” Shaw said. “It takes industry, it takes government, and it takes universities to really build a borderless ecosystem. The presence of our CIO alongside the national director of cyberstandards was a real honor for our institution. »

Membership of GUIRR was motivated by the president of UTSA Taylor Eightmyto be part of a larger innovation ecosystem with peers to address the growing complexity of research opportunities. He is also the Institutional Leadership Representative on the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the Council of National Academies. Since joining in 2021, GUIRR membership is a clear result of UTSA’s recent R1 designation.

“UTSA’s participation as a model for addressing global research infrastructure cybersecurity alongside national leaders like Dell and NIST is a significant honor and confirms our university’s rapid trajectory to becoming the next great research university. public,” said Eightmy. “GUIRR is an essential forum for advancing collaboration in research ecosystems, as it brings together thought leaders from all sectors to discuss innovative solutions to society’s major challenges, and we are proud to collaborate with these leaders. to advance the country’s science and technology agenda.