Duke ITAC - September 12, 1996 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - September 12, 1996 Minutes

Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC)

Minutes, 9/12/96

Present (in table order): Dave Kirby, Evan Scheessele, Anne Beckwith, John Brehm, David Jamieson-Drake, Roger Loyd, Brian Eder, Steven Natelborg, Landen Bain, Melissa Mills, Annette Foster, Caroline Nisbet, Bill Auld, John Board, Paul Harrod, Jim Dronsfield, Mike Pickett, Betty Le Compagnon, Robert Wolpert, Kim Woodlief, and Jeff Chase

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order by Chair, Robert Wolpert at 4:10 p.m.

Review of Minutes & Selection of Scribe

Discussion was held regarding the distribution of the minutes. The group was reminded that minutes are not to shared outside of ITAC until they are approved and posted on the web. Typically, the group has until the next meeting to correct and/or make comments. All comments should be addressed to Mike Pickett.


Tallman Trask will attend the October 10 ITAC meeting. As an agenda item for the next ITAC meeting, ITAC will plan for his visit by defining the issues and questions to be addressed by him.

The Client Server Readiness portion of the IBM survey is complete. IBM will be invited to attend a future ITAC meeting. ITAC will be one of the groups asked to validate the results of the survey. Additionally, other groups from MCIS, OIT, and other departments will be asked to do this as well. Please send recommendations to Mike Pickett.

Draft Strategic Plan Discussion

John Board distributed the second draft of the Report of the Strategic Planning Committee. The committee offered a final draft at the last ITAC meeting but it was decided to defer a vote until today's meeting. Robert Wolpert called for any comments regarding this document.

Landen Bain commented that it was the best written document of its type that he'd seen and that it bears reading closely. Question was posed: Where do we go from here? David Jamieson-Drake suggested that it would be appropriate for ITAC to accept the document from the committee and pass it to Betty with a cover letter. It was suggested that the costs and process needs to be addressed before the document could become a final Strategic Plan.

David Jamieson-Drake made the motion that ITAC should accept document and to draft a cover letter to accompany it to Betty. Landen Bain seconded the motion. The motion carried.

Robert Wolpert declared the subcommittee disbanded and congratulated them on a job well done.

General discussion of the document continued. It was noted that Section 4 & 5 are the heart of the document and should be shared with others at the University. It was also noted that strategic planning is an ongoing process and the document will be changed and updated as we move to the future.

Robert Wolpert requested that all comments and suggestions be forwarded to him by noon on Monday, September 16 with delivery of the documents to Betty on Tuesday.

Other suggestions regarding the document were: Landen Bain raised the issue of an Executive Summary. Robert Wolpert stated that the cover letter should include this summary. Another suggestion was that Section 5 no. 7 should be amended to read "Just-in-time Purchase decisions." The group agreed. David Jamieson-Drake recommended that once this document is on the web, the other referenced documents should be accessible from the web as well.

Computer Clusters Discussion

Betty LeCompagnon opened the discussion some background information. New hardware and software in the clusters is not a 1 time activity and Duke needs time to plan for changing technology each year. Duke should not be in the position of having to replace everything at once. One solution to this is to replace 1/3 of what is in each cluster once per year. This minimizes the financial impact for each year.

At the Steering Committee meeting, a discussion about this issue raised several interesting points. Specifically, do we know what we need to do and when do we need to do it? It is clear that Duke needs to define a Replacement Cycle.

There are 2 approaches:

  1. Starting this summer, replace 1/3 of the equipment in the clusters.
  2. Don't do 1/3 in the summer but redo 1 cluster each year and find out what is going on in that cluster.
It is clear to see that a group needs to be created as soon as possible to determine what to do that may be different from this. One idea was to hire someone to sit in the clusters and record the activities.

David Jamieson-Drake made the following points:

  1. Overall, are the clusters the right size?
  2. Within each cluster, is there the correct mix of technology?
  3. History of the issue - Lack of communication without a full awareness of everyone. The process needs to surface. Need to define how we are going to do this and this should decrease the communication problems.
Dave Kirby asked is there a way to replace items without a lot of thought? Betty LeCompagnon stated that if Duke does not do anything for 3 years, there is the potential for a heavy financial impact which we need to avoid. Dave Kirby stated that Duke needs to figure out what to replace and not be random about it.

Discussion continued about faculty on requiring class specific software and the impact on the clusters. Melissa Mills stated that a revenue stream needs to be built to fund the replacement process. Robert Wolpert stated that the Sparc 5 machines are old and slow and need to be replaced. However, complaints about these machines are not as bad as they were 2 years ago.

David Jamieson-Drake stated the task before the group is to define a process not solve the problem. Robert Wolpert agreed and stated that faculty should be involved as well as students, but in a different way. Jeff Chase observed Duke should take advantage of the market prices and purchase hardware and software at the right time at the right price as well as keeping in mind what needs replacing.

John Board recommended creating a committee. Discussion centered around who would be a good chair for this committee. Group agreed it should be a faculty member. Roger Loyd submitted a different idea for a chair. Select someone who has no direct stake in the clusters but who has expertise in decision making and leading a process.

ITAC members should send ideas and comments to Robert Wolpert or Betty LeCompagnon.

Terms for ITAC Membership

Betty distributed a list of the ITAC membership and the terms for each group. Betty then gave the background of the membership and the process for choosing the length of term for each group. The goal was for 3 year terms for 1/3 of the membership.

The first task is to replace the current vacant positions. Next, if the IT representative of each school is not a faculty member, then the Dean of that school would recommend a faculty member to serve a 3 year term. Starting January 1, 1997, the vacant positions need to be filled.

PACOR representative will have a 1 year term. ECAC members will serve 3 year terms.

SWAT Update

Betty LeCompagnon lead the discussion by stating the process was moving along but had been delayed because of Hurricane Fran. Therefore, there will be a second pass at all dorms. Volunteers are needed and anyone interested should contact Ginny Cake.

Robert Wolpert noted that this is a good opportunity to gather information on hardware and software. It was stated that the form being used gathers this information.

Jim Dronsfield noted that the number of people on the net is up significantly from a year ago. Reasons for this are the ease with connection and the fact that more students are coming to Duke with computers. Interestingly, the number of Mac users has decreased.

Disaster Recovery Update

The campus survived the storm very well. Power, phones and Cable TV continued to be in service for most areas of the campus. Some off campus areas lost power.

David Jamieson-Drake asked if this event uncovered any weak spots? Jim Dronsfield stated that Cable TV was the most vulnerable.

The question was raised: Are there things to change to reduce Duke's exposure? Yes, we should continue to look to improve. One area would be in helping the community by advertising showers, water, ice, etc.

Steve Natelborg wanted to know if the Disaster Recovery Plan is in writing. Yes it is.

Landen Bain commented that Duke should not be smug about how well the university and medical center weathered the storm. He would like a joint medical center/campus group to convene and discuss this while it is still fresh in everyone's mind.

Other Business

Janet Pumo will attend the September 21 meeting of ITAC to give the interim results of the Client Server Readiness survey.

Landen Bain stated that he would like to have Tallman Trask react to pages 14 and 15 of the Strategic Planning Document and discuss funding issues.

Dave Kirby distributed a Remote Access Sub-committee update. The sub-committee has determined that this project is going to require a lot of guidance. He wanted feedback from ITAC as to whether or not the results should be the sub-committees' opinion or whether or not Duke should hire someone to deal with this issue.

After general discussion, it was decided that the sub-committee will offer a couple of solutions along with costs of each to ITAC. Dave Kirby stated that the medical center may do this work due to issues in the medical center. Robert Wolpert stated that he did not think that ITAC has enough information to say whether or not we need serious work on remote access.

BellSouth PCS - ITAC was invited to a meeting scheduled in October to learn about technical aspects of PCS. Jim Dronsfield has more information on this meeting if you are interested.

Betty LeCompagnon announced that Paula Loendorf had been hired as the new Director of Video Services.

The meeting concluded at 5:40 p.m.
Recorder: Kim Woodlief