CIO Works to Increase Mason’s Influence with IT Vendors

Posted: December 17, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Kurt Ankeny-Beauchamp

Joy Hughes, vice president for information technology and CIO, has taken steps to improve George Mason’s clout in the software industry through her membership in the new Vendor Influence Task Force of the CIO Executive Council. This national group of mostly corporate CIOs was formed to level the playing field between buyers and sellers of technology.

The task force seeks to create a standard vendor rating understood by both buyers and sellers, raise industry recognition of the rating, and leverage the ratings to influence vendor performance. “I agreed to serve primarily to help address the lack of security in today’s software. I am also interested in the potential of the group to obtain improved licensing options,” says Hughes.

Hughes is also cochair of the EDUCAUSE/Internet2 Security Task Force, which is working to improve the security of software and hardware. The nonprofit Center for Internet Security (CIS), for example, now allows EDUCAUSE members to redistribute CIS benchmarks and software tools on university systems and computers owned by students, staff, and faculty members. These tools and benchmarks help evaluate product security during the procurement process.

“We also work with vendors to advance our security interests,” Hughes says. Microsoft recently deployed Service Pack 2, which had welcome security features, but had a timing and deployment method that were inappropriate for higher education, she notes. The task force, aided by Nicole Melander, PhD ’99, head of Microsoft’s Higher Education Strategy Group, worked with the corporation to effect an improved process. Melander, also director of the Microsoft Higher Education Advisory Group that addresses licensing and security, is helping the security task force enhance its influence with Microsoft, Hughes says.

Hughes also recently joined an informal advisory group to the president of Sun Microsystems Inc. SunGard SCT, a Sun Microsystems partner that provides Banner, has a formal advisory group drawn from some of its client institutions that prioritizes modifications to the system, she says. “While we’ve not yet had a Mason appointee to this important advisory group, Carrie Gillotte, director of the Information Technology Unit’s Database Application Services, has recently been invited to selective information-sharing sessions with SCT’s leadership.”

These efforts are a start at having some influence at the edges, says Hughes, but “we will need to maximize these opportunities in order to bring greater change.”

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