Duke ITAC - November 6, 1997 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - November 6, 1997 Minutes

ITAC Minutes

November 6, 1997

211 Tel-Com


Attending: Robert Wolpert, Chair, Mike Pickett, Vice Chair, Landen Bain, Chris Cramer (for John Board), Jim Dronsfield, David Ferriero, Annette Foster, Nevin Fouts, Mike Gower, Donna Hewitt, Kenneth Hirsh (for Dick Danner), Matthew Kotler, Alvin Lebeck, Roger Loyd, Jonathan Luebbers, Caroline Nisbet, John Oates, Rafael Rodriguez, Leslie Saper, Marion Shepard, John Sigmon, Hank Tomlinson, Kathy Underwood (guest), Betty Le Compagnon

Call to Order: 4:00 pm, by Robert (chair)

Old Minutes

There were two small corrections to the old minutes. Please write Mike if your name is missing, or for any other corrections.


Betty: The letter on Administrative Desktop Systems has been sent out to Deans and Department Heads, and has the support of the Deans council.

Raphael: A survey will be coming out to collect information with a view toward leveraging future computer purchases.

Current Plans for SAP Financials (Mike Gower)

Mike reported that he was appointed to plan the implementation of SAP Financials in Duke Health (DH). The goal is to address the needs of the entire DH system---Hospital, Duke University Affiliated Physicians, Durham Hospital (if that goes through), and the Private Diagnostic Clinics. There is a serious need for this. His group is to look at the requirements of DH vis-a-vis what SAP can provide.

The due date for submission of the plan to Systems Integration Coordinating Committee (SICC) is mid-January. The requirements of this plan are

  • (1) A single Human Resources (HR) payroll system for the entire University.
  • (2) The balance of SAP functions to be brought up for DH only in this stage.
Note that DH does not need Fund accounting, Endowments, Grants, etc., so the job in (2) is somewhat simpler. Also the DH system is not to be constrained by requirements of the University as a whole. (A "vanilla implementation".) However the experience to be gained in (2) will be valuable later in possible University-wide implementation.
  • (3) Facilities and Project management functions may later be expanded.
The plan will take into account the current differences in practises at Duke versus Durham Regional. There are serious integration issues concerned with implementation of patient billing and acounting systems, and with materials management.

The entire process is being performed in partnership with the software providers.

The goals of the plan are

  • (1) a statement of Project Objectives
  • (2) The Improvements envisioned
  • (3) the Staffing needed
  • (4) determination of Timelines and Dependencies, and an analysis of where there are current unmet needs.
There is only a short timeline to do this, so only the Functional aspects will be addressed. Where parts have been before, we will use them, e.g. IDX patient accounting.

Mike notes that his own group will not be touched by the proposed change-over, so that he can have an independent viewpoint and keep the Universities interests in mind. His area (Medical School) will not be considered a part of the health systems.


Roger: Why are HR and Payroll singled out to be implemented University-wide?

Mike: (1) This is the desire of Trask, to have a single HR function. The goal is that policy and procedures for HR will be uniform. Also (2) Payroll NEEDS replacement; it is about 25 years old, is continually being patched, and faces serious year 2000 problems.

David: What other groups are currently using SAP?

Mike: Med Partners (Ficor), Methodist Hospital (Memphis). The Montefior Hospital in New York is about at the same stage as we are.

Robert: Who vets the plan?

Mike: Trask and Donelan were the sponsors. It will be reviewed by Dr. Snyderman and others---I'm not sure.

Duke Web Page (Kathy Underwood)

Kathy reported that she together with Dennis Meredith (Director of Office of Research Communications) are chairing a committee to update the Duke web page. The intent is a rational and democratic update. The committee has its own web site,
The questions to be addressed are what is wanted, what is needed, and what is possible. They will keep in mind reasonable constraints.

The plan is to

  • Look at the DOIT report as a preliminary investigation. (Remark: With the coming of multimedia, many skills are needed for a web page, so the operative concept is a "web team", rather than a "webmaster".)
  • Emphasize usability
  • Implementation may be within Duke or an outside vendor
  • Look at SUN (they document their own process of web development)
  • Want ITAC participation (a listserv is available)
  • Want review and (hopefully) endorsement


Betty: We don't have all the required skills in ITAC and OIT; that is why we go outside to Dennis's group.

Dennis helped the School of Engineering find a vendor to do their webpage, and the vendor is in touch with the committee.

Matthew: Student and Faculty voices are missing from the committee!! Last year a student proposal to ITAC of a revised Duke Web page came under great criticism for not having faculty input..

Kathy: The committee is not fixed. In the design of an electronic communications enviroment, we need to study the needs of users, such as students and faculty.

Robert: But students and faculty are more than users: they ARE the University.

Betty: What process will there be to get faculty and student input?

(Multi-part discussion): What is the definition of a web site? That should be the first order of business.

Kathy: Usability is essential. What are our goals?

Q: Will there be ongoing reviews?

Kathy: Yes. A maintenance cycle will be examined.

Q: Contents CHANGE

Q: Artistic look is one thing, but architecture is also important.

Kathy: Yes.

Robert: What is the procedure for resolving issues?

Betty: The procedure had not existed; that's why this committee has been formed.

Kathy: The committee will resolve this. We want a mechanism to announce what is being done and to get feedback. That is the role of ITAC.

Q: What is a summary of a good web site and how to balance the needs of faculty/staff/students?

Kathy: Look at http://www.cni.org, and in particular the McClure document, http://www.cni.org/projects/fedinfo/fedinfo.draft.html.

Mike P.: Currently our web page is managed by the bubble strategy: sites hit more frequently float to the top. We need to review that strategy.

Final comment: In the paper world, every department represents the University. Our culture wants this to remain even in the electronic age.

Express Modem Pool (Rafael Rodriguez/Bob Currier)

In view of the busy signal problem, and in line with usage patterns (60% of calls are for 15 minutes or less, 80% of calls are for 30 minutes or less) we propose separating the modem pool into two banks for better utilization of our current resources.

Propose 2 phone numbers:

  • (1) 681-4900 (limited to 15 minutes or less, for e-mail, quick inquiries)
  • (2) 681-4964 (sessions up to 8 hours)
This will announced in computing@duke. To implement the plan we will bring the pool down for 2--4 hours. We propose doing this on Thanksgiving---acpub will be going down then as well.

A draft of the proposal was distributed. (See http://www.oit.duke.edu/remote_access/modempool.html)

On December 1st, reverse proxies for ISP will be available. This will enable Duke affiliated people using (say) IBM's ISP to access Duke-restricted web-based resources via ftp, telnet, etc. This will not enable access to Duke Usenet news groups---the solution is to telnet to a Duke machine and use pine or trn.

Question (Q): Do we have statistics on what people are actually doing on-line?

Answer (A): No.

Betty: We will start with a 50/50 split and then evaluate to see if its right.

Remark: 3 to 4 tries when busy annecdotally gets you in to the Duke modem pool.

Q: How long will the pool be down in the future to fine-tune the split.

Bob: Several hours. But to move 20 modems, just those 20 need to be down. The 50% figure comes from current statistics on how many calls are < 15 minutes.

There will be no warning on cut-off!

Technical Architecture Group (Rafael Rodriquez)

Intro by Betty: In discussions with Landon the need for a group to coordinate decisions (e.g., on networking) across the university emerged. Raphael's job is to look at the "big picture" and will get a small group together to help in this effort.

Rafael: (passed around proposed charter)

Group is to anticipate issues affecting the University and IT (e.g., infrastructure). Such efforts are currently handled by others, for example the SICCOR subcommittee of SICC (consider the Administrative Desktop Standard). The proposed group will be more independent and proactive. They will address issues such as security.

Robert (chair): Membership is absent from this proposal? Will they be technical or policy oriented.

Rafael: A mix of both. The essential is to think globablly. They will be taken from OIT, MCIS, and leaders in IT across the University. Prefer policy people; then can bring in technical expertise as necessary.

Other Issues

Announcement: The Hospital has put online a new enterprise server. No problems.

Announcement: The meeting on Monday night regarding Durham Regional acquisition went as well as possible.

Betty: There are two awards: one is not public yet, but the other is the 1997 Network World Gold Medal, User Excellance award, for the SWAT 97 project. Congratulations to all involved. Previous recipients of this award were Bear Stearns, Motorola, Ford, IBM, etc.

Robert Adjorned the meeting at 5:01 (early!)