Faculty, staff asked to utilize OneDrive, limit VPN use

University Communication to Faculty and Staff
Distributed: 03/17/2020
Posted: 03/17/2020

Dear Carlow University Community,

The current needs around remote work for staff and faculty have placed incredible pressure and stress on our VPN infrastructure. In short, demand is far outpacing what we are licensed for. IT is looking at options to alleviate some of the pressure around use. However, some common sense will also go a long way in helping us better manage the number of individuals currently attempting to access the Carlow VPN.

First, moving files in to OneDrive off of local file shares that exist only on Carlow’s network will eliminate the need to depend on the VPN to access those files. OneDrive does not require VPN access. Placing files into SharePoint team folders does not require VPN access. These are better options for accessing files and work remotely right now. For departments that want to do wholesale file transfers from department shares and department file directories in to OneDrive, IT asks that you please contact the Help Desk and open a support ticket. These kinds of moves are much more fluid with the assistance of IT staff.

Second, we have been tracking length of user sessions and have seen many users leaving themselves logged in to the VPN for hours upon hours. Once you are on and have a license, you keep that license until you logout. We are asking people to police themselves as best they can. If you can please logout of the VPN once you’ve completed your work, that will release a VPN license for someone else’s use. One route IT may be forced down will be putting session limits on VPN logins, which means timing people out after a certain period of use. Please know that we are hoping to avoid this approach.

Finally, we are hearing that some staff are working under the assumption that off campus access to some applications will require logging in to the VPN. That is not universally true. For instance, using Outlook on your Carlow-owned laptop from home only requires you be connected to your wireless network. It does not require having to login to the VPN as well. Doing so only needlessly consumes a license that someone else could use.

As always, we thank everyone for their patience and cooperation during this extraordinary time. IT staff are committed to supporting Carlow as best we can, and will continue to discuss and pursue solutions that will help our staff, faculty, and students.

Greg Dumont, EdD
Chief Information Officer