Emory Report

May 1, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 31

Network ops, telecommunications merge

By Eric Rangus

Created last year, the Office of Network Operations combines the responsibilities of five formerly independent organizations: three telecommunications departments (University, the Hospital and the clinic) and two departments of network operations (network operations at the Information Technology Division and Health Care Information Systems), into one entity.

"We're in the formative stages of putting together the new division," said Don Corcoran, associate vice president for network communications. All five branches are now starting to work as one unit, but there is much more remaining; such as moving everybody into one payroll group. That goes up for approval in June.

Approval to create the office was given in January 1999, and Corcoran was hired from Vanderbilt University that April to put it all together.

Corcoran said the new structure should improve telecommunications and network operations service across the University. Once it is implemented, every employee will be covered by one office rather than by the previously separate setup. Service should also be quicker since all calls will be handled by one source. In its final form, the office will employ about 150 people.

"There'll be no organizational boundaries between the hospitals, the clinic or the University," Corcoran said.

One of the main differences in the new office will be how services are billed. Some of the previously independent offices billed monthly, others were "pay as you go." The plan is the office to go with monthly billing for all services. This will be phased into the budget process.

Corcoran also said the final organization will be much stronger since each department can pool resources and personnel to work toward one goal rather than having five smaller groups with correspondingly smaller voices.

For many years Emory's IT efforts have been spread across campus, split up among many different offices. Sometimes systems are not compatible. A committee on IT architecture (co-chaired by Howard Hunter, dean of the law school, and Paul Morris, vice provost for information technology) is currently working on coordinating Emory's systems with one Universitywide architecture. Corcoran is a member of this committee, which is still investigating ways to implement architecture standards.

While the effort to create the Office of Network Operations is related to this wider project, Corcoran's office does not fall under the ITD umbrella. Instead, it is guided by a seven-person oversight committee with a wide mix of administrative and technical backgrounds.

The committee includes Morris; Provost Rebecca Chopp; John Henry, chief executive officer of Emory Hospitals; Michael Johns, executive vice president for Health Affairs; Ron Palmich, chief information officer for Emory Healthcare; Rein Saral, chief executive officer of the Emory Clinic; and John Temple, executive vice president.

Reaction has been positive. "We're getting a lot of encouragement." Corcoran said. "Over time, customers should see improved response time, and you will be able to call one place to order phone service and data network connectivity," he added.

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