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Ethan Kromhout has been named Assistant Vice Chancellor for ITS Infrastructure, Operations & Networking, effective June 3, after serving as interim AVC since June 2022.

He “is without peer with respect to technical acumen and ability both to get new things done and keep less-than-new things working and improving,” J. Michael Barker, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, wrote in his announcement to ITS.

Ethan Kromhout
Ethan Kromhout

Kromhout “is universally respected not only for his technical abilities and native intelligence but also for his kindness and generosity,” Barker wrote. “Perhaps most remarkably, he leads quietly and humbly, yet with a track record of accomplishment that the most driven of taskmasters would envy.”

Kromhout has worked for ITS since he joined UNC-Chapel Hill in December 2009 as Director of Applications Infrastructure. He served his first stint as interim AVC in 2015 for five months.

Before coming to UNC, Kromhout worked for Florida State University for six years. He also earned a degree in computer science from Florida State.

A mix of familiar and new

Kromhout oversees a wide range of groups, including Open Systems, the Operations Center, Systems Administration, Enterprise Storage, Business Process Automation, Data Center Operations, Enterprise Operations, Networking, Engineering & Operations, Transport Operations and IT Service Management.

During these last two years as interim, Kromhout “really came to enjoy the mix of familiar and new challenging technology areas” and therefore chose to seek the permanent position. “Some things such as server management and email I have been doing my entire career, other things like networking and fiber operations are new to me, or my knowledge about them was out of date,” he said.

Establishing priorities

Some of his highest priorities are to keep “things up and modernized,” Kromhout said. “These are things like the network, fiber paths, data centers, storage systems that need to be ‘utility grade’ or always available, in the background, and taken for granted — in a good way. Still, I have some specific things I want to prioritize, including working to reduce our energy consumption and finding ways to build cohesion among parts of the division, many of which are fully remote.”

Accomplishments as interim

As for his two years as interim AVC, Kromhout is proud of making some changes in the Networking part of his division. “We attempted to increase some of the manager roles reporting to the director and tried to increase the focused time for architects,” he said. “We also aligned the Operations Center with Networking and are seeing strong information sharing between those teams.”

Kromhout is delighted with what Ryan Turner, who leads the Networking group, has accomplished with his production of Networking’s annual report. Kromhout encourages “folks to find and review the Networking report that Ryan Turner produces. It gives a fascinating window into some of the major initiatives and efforts,” he said.

Speaking of Networking, the division name has evolved to include the word networking — it’s now Infrastructure, Operations & Networking, or IO&N for short.

As for additional accomplishments within IO&N, Kromhout is proud of efforts to elevate the visibility of server, storage and data center refresh and maintenance needs. “Most of the key accomplishments of the division, of course, are by the teams that make it up. Just to name one of many, we worked to migrate our off-site backups from the public cloud to infrastructure at MCNC,” he said.

MCNC is a nonprofit technology organization that provides broadband infrastructure and other services to education, research and community institutions across North Carolina. Migrating off-site backups to MCNC, he said, saved money and was more effective.

Enabling continued ‘outstanding service’

“I’m very honored both to have been trusted with the interim role and especially to be selected into the role permanently,” Kromhout said. “The teams that make up Infrastructure, Operations & Networking are extremely driven and excellent at what they do. I really want to do everything I can to get them what they need to continue to perform such outstanding service to UNC.”


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