Duke ITAC - June 5, 1997 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - June 5, 1997 Minutes

ITAC Minutes

June 5, 1997

211 Telcom

Attending: Robert Wolpert, Annette Foster, Pakis Bessias, Rafael Rodriguez, George Oberlander, Roy Weintraub, Nevin Fouts, John Sigmon, David Ferriero, Michael Pickett, Melissa Mills, John Board, Ginny Cake, Charles Register, Jim Dronsfield, John Eisenmenger, Suzanne Maupin, Paul Harrod, Marion Shepard, Caroline Nisbet

Review of Minutes and Announcements

Previous meeting's minutes were approved. Rafael Rodriguez was welcomed as the newly hired Director of Institutional Systems Architecture for OIT. Mike Pickett announced that the Futures meeting on Lotus Domino/Notes was held on June 3rd and was attended by 35-40 people. It seems that Notes mail might be the replacement for cc:mail. Jim Dronsfield said that our current meeting room ( 411 Telcom ) will not be available for ITAC meetings for about 6-8 weeks this summer. The meeting location for the summer (with the exception of 8/14) will be the Old Trinity Room in the West Union Building (near the Faculty Commons).

SprintNet Connectivity Update

Mike Pickett talked to Peggy Davis of MCNC, who is currently pursuing the second path to the Internet in addition to the SprintNet connection. The consortium's network committee is evaluating both MCI and UUNET as options. MCI is favored as the best choice for Duke, but because of liability restrictions in the MCI contract, it is likely that UUNET will be the chosen vendor. The connection will be in place before the students return from their summer break.

Clusters Upgrade Status

Charlie Register reported that the Teer cluster workstation upgrade went very well. The workstation physical security is in place and the 36 Sun Spark 5's were replaced with much faster Sun Ultra 1 workstations. As for the PC clusters, Ginny Cake reported that a prototype of the new Windows NT operating system software is in the testing phase. By mid-June the North cluster will be upgraded to NT and at the end of June the remaining clusters will also be upgraded. Ghost software will be used to refresh and update the operating system and software on the cluster computers on an as needed basis. John Sigmon inquired about the Marine Lab upgrade schedule and Ginny said that she did not have any definite dates yet.

Clusters Upgrade 98-99 Strategies Discussion

Robert Wolpert pointed out that one third of each architecture will be replaced each year to conform to a three-year replacement cycle. He emphasized that no serious thought has been given to what fraction of the clusters need to be PC, Workstation, or Macintosh, and what is the optimal cluster size. He added that we need to have a better idea for the summer 1998 upgrade. To that effect, pattern use of the clusters needs to be investigated so that we make an informed decision about which part of the clusters needs to grow.

John Board agreed and said that we do need statistics on cluster use. He asked: Is email the main use of the clusters? If not, what is it? He suggested that the Student Computer Committee should be involved in determining the type of upgrade needed. John Eisenmenger suggested installing low-end PC's that will be used primarily for Email access, as a way of freeing cluster computers for other use. Mike Pickett suggested using an on-line questionnaire for gathering information from the users of the clusters. Roy Weintraub said that the survey done by the Center for Teaching and Learning might provide useful information.

John Board suggested involving both 'high-tech' and 'low-tech' students as well professors that teach at the clusters in the decision making process. Lastly, Melissa Mills added that if we go with low-end machines, they should also include web access in addition to email since many faculty now use/require web access.

Traffic Planning Update (Network & Email)

Mike Pickett started by saying that a significant increase in network traffic will result from the deployment of the new administrative systems. These new applications for Student Information Systems and Human Resources will have a large constituency - the former all the students, the latter all employees. A lot more email messages will be generated from within these applications to students and employees. So the question arose; is our email system ready for this deluge of electronic mail?

Charlie Register replied, "Sure, we just need to throw more money at it!" Charlie mentioned that we already have bulk email available - the Registrar's office is one of the main users. Bulk email is sent out late at night in batches, so as not to burden the email system at peak hours. He also said that in the new mail system we will have different levels of email priorities, for example, third class email that will carry low priority.

John Board asked the question, how do we control the number of recipients on a mailing list. Who decides? Marion Shepard commented that the academic deans and the provost need to give approval and maybe have a list of authorized names that can send email to these lists. John Eisenmenger noted that we need to be able to not only send mass mailings, but to send mail merged (individualized) mailings. At this point, Robert Wolpert reminded us that our time for this issue had ran out and will revisit it in a subsequent meeting.

Security Issues & Discussion (Charlie Register)

Charlie Register distributed a handout on common computer security hazards. Some of the issues covered on this list were: shared passwords and passwords too easy to guess, unattended/insecure workstations, impersonation and forgery, laptop computer theft and viruses.

He stressed that education of the computer user community is tantamount to safe computing and discouraged the use of shared mailboxes by individuals or departments. Sharing passwords should never be allowed, and caution needs to be exercised so that passwords are not too short, or that they are not words that can be found in a dictionary.

Robert Wolpert asked whether the departmental network administrators were aware of the security issues covered on the handout. Paul Harrod said that most of them do know, and are also reminded from Internal Audit. (His office audits several departments each year and makes security recommendations).

John Eisenmenger mentioned that it is not always easy to enforce good password security because the users complain. Mike Pickett suggested that maybe Suzanne Maupin and or Paul Harrod should come back to ITAC to discuss security issues.

George Oberlander said that maybe adhering to security guidelines should be part of an employees' performance review. If this policy is adopted there is a good chance it will prevent password and other computer security abuses.

Robert Wolpert asked: Why are the security recommendations not followed? How do the campus network administrators deal with security issues? Maybe a questionnaire should be sent out to them? Melissa Mills said that security audits and checks need to be done more regularly, and maybe we should have a security team devoted to this, but of course we will have to come up with the money to support it.

Other Business

Melissa Mills inquired about the report the Network Infrastructure committee is working on and whether there was any closure. Pakis Bessias said that the committee will have a last meeting on Monday June 16, before they report to ITAC - probably at its next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Pakis Bessias