Duke ITAC - March 28, 1996 Minutes

ITAC Minutes for 28 March, 1996

Submitted by Jeff Chase (chase@cs.duke.edu)

The meeting was called to order with approval of the minutes from the previous meeting (2/29). Jeff Chase was volunteered to take the minutes.


BLC presented "Technology Directions for Institutional Applications" (draft of 3/25) for final approval. This note is a set of guidelines for choosing vendors and products for IT purchases. The new draft has some minor changes, including a clause that chosen vendors must be "viable" for five years after the purchase.

BLC reported some progress toward forming a new committee for work process redesign, recommended by ITAC. The committee was approved in principle by Strohbehn and Trask. It will be chaired by Mike Pickett.

BLC solicited comments on the guidelines for electronic publishing at Duke, now on the web under the ITAC page. These guidelines must balance the Duke community's inalienable right of free speech with the need for the institution to protect itself from legal action.

There was a brief discussion of the need for guidelines for administrative applications. Security was identified as a key issue.

Mike Pickett then mentioned that the recent E-mail futures meeting was well-attended and productive. The meeting included a review of cc:Mail. Some concerns were identified, in particular its lack of IMAP compliance.

MP also described a technical planning meeting of OIT staff to further the "architecture and plan for e-mail" to be presented to ITAC. This will include a scheme for fuzzy addressing, which will be available as a pilot within OIT within a few weeks, and should be available to faculty and staff shortly thereafter. MP noted that the medical center "may not be on board" with the e-mail enhancements. This prompted a discussion of the proposal, particularly the plan to "reserve" e-mail addresses before they become valid, the need for guidelines for reserved names, and the problem of ambiguous names. Jeff Chase suggested that no valid name should be ambiguous, and that any non-ambiguous name should be valid. Palmer (RP) proposed an RFC for fuzzy addressing.

MP mentioned that a virus was infecting campus machines running Microsoft software. OIT is pursuing a site license for better anti-virus software, as well as site licenses for Lotus Notes and other Lotus products (e.g., cc:Mail). BLC asked how many seats would be needed for these licenses.

BLC said she would stop forwarding mail from Eric Melvin at Sun unless requested, since most ITAC members were well-informed about the events sponsored by Sun.

OIT Budget Presentation by Angel Marlowe

Robert Wolpert (RW) introduced Angel Marlow (AM or marlow@acpub) from OIT to give a presentation about the OIT budgeting process. Some key points from the presentation (these may be slightly garbled):
  • Duke has a $1.2 B budget, of which 66% goes to the medical center, 23% to the provost (Duke University), and 11% for central administration. OIT's support efforts are spread proportionately among these categories. (Read: OIT serves the medical center.)
  • OIT budgets are locked in very early, 20 months in advance. This complicates IT purchasing, since the technology changes so rapidly. (Read: budget requests must be made well in advance of need.)
  • OIT's operating budget is about $32M, of which 36% goes to personnel. Televideo (e.g., phone installation) is a large part (20%)of the budget, consuming about 40% of salary dollars. Computer purchases and the wiring project are on separate (capital) budgets.
  • With the dorm rewiring project finished, network usage/load is mushrooming. About 2800 students actively use the net, including 90% of freshmen. There are 16,000 networked computers on campus, carrying 125,000 e-mail messages and 275,000 hits on OIT's web servers each day. All growth is superlinear; only the growth in phone lines (now 20,000) has leveled off.
  • About 10% of OIT's budget is for "consulting and support", including BLC's office. This category is growing category due to the increased use of e-mail and web services, and creative financing may be needed, perhaps involving the televideo surplus expected this year. A new organization called "OIT Solutions" (changed from "OIT Inc." due to IRS concerns) is coming on line this week for web page and desktop support.
  • Supplemental funding approved a few years ago is running out, and will be zero in 98-99. About $3.5M of these supplemental funds have been spent on clusters etc., but the well is now dry, and the customer base is still thirsty. [read: OIT needs more money.]
AM and BLC also noted that OIT is a cable TV provider for the campus and medical center with its "DevilVision" (?) service, and even has a free public access channel for faculty use.

After the presentation, RW asked if we need to revisit long-term funding for IT at Duke, which has been a problem in the past. AM noted that there is no mechanism for funding replacement and growth, and OIT is pushing for a resolution by 97/98. DJD framed the issue as a need to ensure adequate long-term support in the operational budget for new purchases approved in the capital budget. He and RW added that faculty input is needed, and that John Board's strategic planning committee could be a vehicle for this input. AM asked for faculty comments and support by e-mail by the second week of April.

Melissa Mills (MM) added that the mechanisms for involving people in the budget process should be self-sustaining and self-regulating, rather than leading to a growing bureacracy. DJD noted that the budget process is complex and "has its own culture", and that it is the arena in which "strategic decisions really play out". Everyone agreed that there should be room in the process to solicit input, and that ITAC should be more involved, but that the means for achieving this were not clear.

Committee Reports

At this point RW introduced reports from subcommittees.

DJD reported that the Data Committee is gathering info and comments for its preliminary report, which is expected at the end of the semester.

Tom Diprete reported that the student computing committee will share its draft report at the next ITAC meeting.

John Board reported that strategic planning was studying an ADAC report, and would integrate it and produce its own report "in May" (of 1996).

DJD added that the student and data committee reports should be chapters in the strategic report.

Other Business

Next, RW proposed a new subcommittee on "remote access", perhaps to be headed by David Kirby (?) from the medical center. The draft charge for the committee was handed out. Comments were solicited to produce a final draft by the next ITAC meeting.

Finally, BLC circulated some letters sent to entering students recommending minimal hardware configurations for their *optional* PC purchases. Comments are solicited. This list will be revised annually. E-mail suggestions to the student computing committee (itac-plan).