Introducing the Forward Initiative

Image of students on campus surrounding a laptop

Elevating UIC's Infrastructure

The Forward Initiative consists of strategic plans and technology roadmaps to upgrade, expand, optimize, and/or modernize three areas of campus infrastructure and technology: Data Network and Voice Systems, Data Centers, and Research Cyberinfrastructure.

These three related, but distinct, areas have clear commonalities. In each area, the campus has a functional core service and quality staff, but a lack of continued investment in both human resources and equipment modernization has left each area inadequate to meet today’s UIC needs and to keep pace with peer and aspirational peer institutions.

How It Started

Over the course of fiscal year 2020, IT leadership engaged in the creation of strategic plans and technology roadmaps for the campus data network and voice systems, data centers, and research cyberinfrastructure. A passionate group of faculty and staff serving on the IT Leadership Council’s Research Committee crafted a plan, which was subsequently followed by external consultancies creating the network and data center plans.

Strategic Approach

Our approach in each of the three IT areas, network, data center, and research focuses on a lift and sustain the strategy.  Invest in the highest value opportunities that bring the IT capability up to date and then sustain to allow UIC to continue to drive value from the investment.

Data and Voice Network
Invest in a Wifi first model to improve student experience indoors and out. A Wifi first approach will also allow UIC to optimize costs associated with improving connectivity by not replacing all legacy cabling across campus, saving millions of dollars in rewiring costs.  To help sustain this investment, Technology Solutions will eliminate legacy phone systems.

Data Center
The physical data center continues to play a role to ensure a flexible infrastructure that meets UIC’s research and student needs. By ensuring the baseline power and cooling systems of UIC’s existing data centers are able to reliably support IT systems and the data network, the datacenters will become an asset to the campus research, administrative, and tech communities. Expanding opportunities with cloud infrastructure, as well as co-location opportunities within Chicago and statewide higher education partners, will provide opportunities for scaling UIC’s data center facility needs as those needs continue to grow.

Research Computing
Research is paramount to UIC’s mission and ACER has proven the value of cyberinfrastructure in research and grant funding capability. We are at a critical point with our research cyberinfrastructure, where we need to replace critical infrastructure now and invest in additional high-performance computing capturing the momentum of ACER and ensuring adequate compute resources and support staff to directly benefit the research capability at UIC and advance our mission.

Keeping the UIC Community Updated

The Forward Initiative’s strategic plans and technology roadmaps align with the university’s mission to support the needs of our research, clinical, and teaching and learning communities. These enhancements and updates will be impacting members of the UIC Community. To ensure the Community is aware and stays updated on milestones, accomplishments, and roadmaps, information will be continuously posted and shared on the IT @ UIC website under Initiatives.

Our approach in each of the three IT areas, network, data center, and research focuses on a lift and sustain the strategy.  Invest in the highest value opportunities that bring the IT capability up to date and then sustain to allow UIC to continue to drive value from the investment.

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