After more than two decades, the ITS Software Acquisition group has changed its name to Software Distribution.
Software Distribution Manager Greg Neville has been with the group for 20 years. Kimberly Middleton, Site License Coordinator for Software Distribution, has been with the team for almost 15 years. The group is comprised of Neville, Middleton and several student employees.
“We don’t really acquire software anymore or manage the acquisition of the service. That’s handled through the business office, so our core service is the distribution of said IT services,” Neville said.
A long time coming
“Early on, [software] acquisition was aligned a lot more with UNC purchasing and managing contracts and agreements,” he said. “Now we just get things out and distribute them. It was a long time coming for this name change.”
The Software Distribution team members are no strangers to change.
In the early 2000s, the group started out distributing software to users via floppy disk. Then the group transitioned to handing out software programs on CDs, which didn’t hold much information.
“Something like SAS software would come in on 20 some CDs. So, you can imagine a customer having to put one in after another, which took an extremely long time,” Neville said.
The group then transitioned to DVDs, and then again USB drives, before settling on the current system of distributing downloads.
“As long as you have good internet connectivity, it shouldn’t take long to download, install and be up and running,” Neville said.
Less face to face, same office space
The change in the way software is distributed has also changed the way the group interacts with customers.
The Software Distribution group started with an office in the basement of Wilson Library before moving nearly 15 years ago to the lower level of the Undergraduate Library, where the team is still housed today.
“We’ve seen with our transformation to the cloud and digital delivery not a lot of people come in for help,” Neville said.
Although software programs are now predominately distributed online, the Software Distribution team still gets the chance to interact across campus from time to time. Four years ago, the group spearheaded the promotion campaign for the campus rollout of Adobe Creative Cloud. The team members handed out Adobe merchandise to students on campus at tech fairs and other events.
“I got to see and meet a lot of people, so I enjoyed that,” Neville said. “Now it’s one of our most heavily used software programs, going on 30,000 users.”
From widespread distribution to individual accounts
Initially, the group maintained only a few core software programs for the University, like Windows, SAS and MATLAB.
“Over the course of time with technology changing to be more efficient, we’ve taken on more services due to having the cloud and being able to manage accounts instead of managing a distribution point,” Neville said.
Now, software programs are tied to the accounts of individual students, faculty and staff members created by the Software Distribution team.
The future of software distribution
Looking forward, Neville sees the future of the Software Distribution group being more automation-based.
“The way that students are brought up now having a digital literacy with computers and technology can take what we do much further,” Neville said.
“For me, this has been my life really,” he said. “Coming from the small distribution to an enterprise service that we offer software that anyone from campus can benefit from, I take pride in this.”