Duke ITAC - November 20, 1997 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - November 20, 1997 Minutes

ITAC Minutes

November 20, 1997

211 Tel-Com


Attending: Robert Wolpert, Chair, Mike Pickett, Vice Chair, Landen Bain, Pakis Bessias, Michael Blum, Peter Brauer (for Bill Scarborough), Jim Coble (for David Ferriero), Ginny Cake (guest), Mike Gower, Paul Harrod, David Jamieson-Drake, Kyle Johnson, Dave Kirby, Matthew Kotler, Jonathan Luebbers, Melissa Mills, Neal Paris, Rafael Rodriguez, Leslie Saper, John Sigmon, Dick Danner

Call to Order: 4:00 pm by Robert Wolpert, Chair


The minutes from the previous meeting were accepted with no changes.


The next meeting will be December 11.

IT Support
Preliminary Recommendations and Discussion

Neal Paris

Neal Paris passed out the draft report of the IT Support Plan for Duke University. This plan, put together with assistance from IBM Consulting, identified recommendations to improve support in several areas. The primary ones include:
  • Establishing a testing facility (partnership between OIT and MCIS)
  • Offer a mandatory session orienting new students to computing at Duke University
  • Initiating a new process for certified IT support personnel to gain access to immediate high level assistance
  • Establishing a team of student computer consultants to handle technical support issues in the residence halls
  • Create a support group responsible for coordinating technical services between OIT, MCIS, schools and other organizations


Dave Kirby: What would be the FTE commitment for the student orientation? Assuming this would be from existing staff, it may require more help to orient a lot of people in a short period of time. Noted that the dollars in the plan were for training of the orientation staff.

Michael Blum: Some graduate and professional schools have done this kind of orientation, but some have not. Can this plan be extended to all new students, including graduate and professional, where there is not a program?

Neal: Not sure, but it is a good suggestion.

Les Saper: Many of the recommendations on training and documentation of key software packages and operating systems would not be useful in my department because we use different packages. Some schools and departments need programs tailored to their particular needs and software.

Melissa Mills: Concerning recommendations on implementing a structured process for selecting and funding IT support staffs -- who decides which departments get this staffing? What process would be used? Not just academic departments need this help. What is really needed in many cases is a "piece of a person." Some departments could share someone.

David Jamieson-Drake: A finding in the ongoing accreditation study is the need to require computer competency for students.

Matthew Kotler: The existing orientation is VERY busy. Is this the right time to add a session on computing? How can computer literacy be included in classes (UWC includes).

Dave Kirby: What is needed is a clear way to find information (on web and in a printed guide).

Jonathan Luebbers: What is needed for the orientation is concentration on the basics: email and newsgroups.

Landen Bain: I'm unclear about the umbrella group for coordinating technical services. I assume this is from existing staff, but what would they do? Address the structural issues? Is it for coordinating of expertise? Working on training needs? Certification programs? Note that there IS a cost for such a group meeting. Sounds too much like a committee. Second level support structure at help desks should help.

David Jamieson-Drake: Supports a certification program.

Robert: I'm skeptical of a testing facility. It would likely be overwhelmed.

Neal: One person would get overwhelmed, but if it starts out modestly, it could help.

Robert: What value would it add?

Les Saper: Balance needs with the finite resources. What about specialized applications?

Neal: There is a demand for testing and configuring basic applications and operating systems.

Matthew Kotler: One person is not enough for this function. MIT has an entire group.

Michael Blum: We need to make sure that we've budgeted adequate pay levels in the proposal?

Melissa: Wants augmentation to acpub -- backfill a more senior person.

Robert: A substantial amount of money is proposed for staff to assist organizations that don't have adequate support staff. This constitutes "social policy." It penalizes departments that have made a place in their budgets to address these needs -- shifting funds from other areas of their budgets.

Neal: We recognized that this item was controversial and would appreciate your suggestions.

Neal asked that comments be sent to him before Thanksgiving (neal@duke.edu).

Campus Cluster/Quad Printers Recommendations

Neal presented for Pat Driver who was involved in a move of computers.

Neal handed out an executive summary of survey results. These recommended adding a number of printers and email stations on East, West I and West II. There is a problem of power and air conditioning on West Campus because of insufficient supply; there are plans to replace the high voltage loop in the dormitories, but it will take several years.

Matthew: Are email stations necessary with the printer clusters? These are better placed in dining halls and other facilities.

Neal agreed that the email stations might be better placed.

It was asked if the Central Campus resources were ok. Space is a problem there because the cluster is located in an apartment, and Housing does not want to give up another one.

David: How is paper supplied and controlled?

Ginny Cake: Would use the same procedure for supplies as at clusters, but they would monitor the flow and work with the housing group for support. Suggestions are welcome.

Please give feedback to Pat Driver by early December.

Express Modem Pool and Remote Access Update

Rafael Rodriguez discussed the change in the modem pool on November 28. An express modem pool would be established for calls of 15 minutes or less, and the other pool would be for calls of up to 8 hours. The usage would be monitored closely; modifications are easy if needed.

The proxy server will be place December 1st and will allow access to Duke web and gopher services to people using outside internet service providers. To access Usenet groups from an outside ISP, people will need to log into acpub and use Pine or TRN.

Rafael described the cable modem trial with Time Warner Cable. The first set of users would be installed by the week of December 1 (about 2 dozen). Thinking is going on about how this should be offered by Time Warner to the Duke community. How would the mechanics work? Costs for installation and service charges are not known yet. This might start rollout early in the year and be fully implemented by Fall. The ADSL trial with GTE continues, but GTE has reorganized, and there are new players involved.

Mike Pickett: There has been lots of discussion on the 15 minute limit for the express modem pool. How should OIT deal with the concerns people are having?

Peter Brauer: Many don't know the change is coming.

Mike Pickett: Ads/articles are going into the Dialogue, the Chronicle, and Inside DUMC.

Matthew: There's been no OIT responses to Computing-at-Duke messages. Follow-up is needed.

Mike Pickett: I agree, we'll get a response that addresses some of the concerns.

SISS Advisory Group

David Jamison-Drake described the project implementing the Peoplesoft student information system. He would like an advisory group to integrate and subgroups for specific feedback. He would like graduate and professional students, undergraduate students, and faculty to participate. The time commitment is unknown until we get the software. It might be a couple of hours every 2 weeks. He asked for suggestions (or volunteers).

Mike Pickett noted that a recent demo of SISS was done by the functional users -- this demonstrated the ownership of the system by the users. He expressed a belief that the success of big systems implementations was related to how involved the functional users were.

David noted that this advisory group would be an opportunity to work with a great group of people.

Robert suggested using the news groups to get volunteers and David noted that there would a selection process to narrow the pool of interested folks.

Other Matters

Michael Blum expressed concern over a recent issue regarding a violation of computer security by a local area network administrator (LAN). What is the responsibility of OIT to create and administer policies for LAN regarding computer security and acceptable use? There is a real concern over violation of privacy. By what rules of conduct and behavior should LAN approach their work? Are ITAC guidelines needed?

Melissa Mills responded that she was made aware of this situation and referred the LAN to OIT's policies.

Mike Pickett suggested that the certification process discussed in the support plan would be a good forum to discuss this.

David noted that OIT has no authority over LAN administrators in departments but that the departments must have guidelines and enforce them.

Peter Brauer noted that Auxiliary Services has a policy in place warning users of appropriate use of their network and the authority of LAN administrators. All users must agree to this policy before using their local server.

Melissa asked if Duke has a policy that Duke PCs can't be used for private business. There is a policy for acpub against it, but it is not a blanket policy.

After a short discussion noting the need for guidelines and education around this issue, Robert adjourned the meeting at 5:30.