Duke ITAC - August 27, 1998 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - August 27, 1998 Minutes


August 27, 1998

Present: Robert Wolpert (chair), Pakis Bessias, John Board, Pete Boyd, Kevin Cheung, Bob Currier, Dick Danner, Jim Dronsfield, David Ferriero, Nevin Fouts, Mike Gower, David Jamieson-Drake, Betty LeCompagnon, Angel Marlowe, Melissa Mills, Caroline Nisbet, George Oberlander, Mike Pickett, Jeri Powell (for Jimmy Grewal), Charles Register

Review of Minutes and Announcements

There were no changes to the minutes of the last meeting. Nevin Fouts announced a meeting on Monday, Aug. 31 at 11:00 at the NCSC to discuss a proposal for a new center on advanced computational methods to do economic forecasts. He noted that Fuqua is very interested in this idea. Representatives will come from UNC and NCSU as well as reps from Charlotte banking/finance companies. Contact Nevin for more information. This is the first in a series of meetings.

Sibson IT Position Study Update

Angel Marlowe distributed a handout from the team working on this project. They are known as "The Bandits" and have been meeeting two hours a week since last spring. The team's goal is to design a new compensation program for IT professionals. They are scheduled to complete the current phase of the project by Dec. The next phase, implementation, will begin in January. The project team reports to a steering committee of senior administrators. They have worked with a resource IT group as well. Any specific concerns, ideas, or suggestions should be communicated to Angel or to Dolores Taylor.

John Board asked why there are no sysadmins on the project team? Angel responded that the team relies on the resource IT group as well as individuals for this type of feedback. Betty noted that she is satisfied with project structure.

George Oberlander asked, "do we understand what the problmes are really? Are recruitment and retention issues different?" Angel replied that the project team has identified three issues: recruitment, retention, and motivating. The reward/incentive structure they envision would not be all monetary.

David Jamieson-Drake observed that many IT people don't work for Landon or Betty and asked how the new system will address these people? Are their issues different? Angel noted that the project team is addressing IT professionals in general, not simply OIT or MCIS employees.

Nevin Fouts asked when a straw model would be available so we can figure out how all the different organizations will map to it. Angel stated that the project team will make a presentation to the steering committee on September 11.

Robert Wolpert noted one difference for IT staff based in academic departments is that they do not generally report to other IT people. Guidance on how to make their jobs more interesting would be helpful.

Dick Danner urged speed for completion of project noting that HR is reluctant to reclassify anyone because they don't have appropriate classifications to put them in and are waiting for the results of this project. Betty offered to assist any department that is having problems.

Angel stated that written feedback to the following questions would be of great assistance to the project team:

  • What are your biggest challenges in recruiting, retaining, and motivating?
  • What are the biggest barriers to success?
  • What works now?
  • What concerns do you have for the future?

George Oberlander said that it is important to note the difference between sysadmins and programmers. Sometimes these groups are lumped together in the conversation, but they have very different needs.

Melissa Mills commended the project team for their work and noted her support for creativity in thinking of a variety of rewards other than pay.

Caroline Nisbet commented that because pay ranges will likely be affected, it is important for departments to have the project results in time to prepare their FY2000 budgets.

Update on Project Enterprise

Mike Gower noted the Project Enterprise originally had a very aggressive target date, April 1999, to bring up payroll. He noted that this is about as late into a tax year as one can go. After extensive consultation with SAP and key Duke officials, it has been determined that there is not enough time to get design/baseline system changes accomplished in order to make this timeline (N.B. these system changes are not Duke-unique issues). The SAP VP for HR Systems dedicated senior level resources to complete a risk assessment with Duke project team and the revised target date for payroll implementation is now January 2000. The current payroll system has been Y2K fixed. With the new timeline, Duke will now be going live on a newer version of SAP, the team will have more time to develop, there is less risk in adding payrolls for the two new hospitals, and we can start at beginning of a tax year. Dr. Trask expects to get a commitment in writing from SAP to the new project schedule.

John Board asked whether the delay is costing Duke much money. Mike Gower responded that there are some cost implications to the revised timeline, however, we have a bargaining chip with SAP because the changes related to payroll issues were not delivered by them as promised. We will have to build some interfaces to the existing payroll system for the two new hospitals and deal with a few other issues that we'd not planned for originally. However, on the positive side, we may be able to go ahead with some design for other HR modules given the longer planning timeline. A new issue related to the materials management module has emerged because the hospital has decided that all nursing staff (~2,000) should have access (10x more than original estimate) to the system. This decision has implications for training and site license.

Mike Pickett reported that the production hardware is here and that two cycles of the system have been configured. They are now at about the 76% level of configuration and will continue to build the production version in this manner, i.e., each cycle is configured from ground zero. Mike stated that he locked all of the consultants out of the system which was a new experience for them. However, this has worked well; the consultants can give advice, but cannot perform the configuration. There is the capability for on-campus disaster recovery because of hardware redundancy between North and Bell buildings.

David Jamieson-Drake commended the project team for their action to change the timeline and acknowledged the difficulty of changing a production date.

Nevin asked for a high level consolidation of project timelines so units can examine the potential impact of all of the redesign projects on their own operations.

Non-Duke requests for .org domains

Bob Currier stated that a few requests have been approved, e.g., DoubleTake magazine. Betty noted that there are other organizations like The Chronicle that are independent, but are on the duke.edu domain. A discussion followed. Bob stated that he would like a policy that is broad enough to allow for flexibility, but restrictive enough to say no if necessary.

John Board suggested that requests should have the sponsorship of a dean/vice provost/vice president. There was consensus among those present that the requesting organization should have a clear Duke connection.

David Jamieson-Drake suggested a sunset clause in the event that a group severs their Duke affiliation.

Robert Wolpert concluded the discussion by suggesting that Bob draft a preliminary proposal for ITAC review.

Email Spam

Charlie Register referred those present to a discussion earlier this week on duke.computing. He stated that Duke's email systems have aggressive spam deterrent software and a lot of spam is blocked. He noted that anyone who receives spam should send the offending message with full headers to postmaster@duke.edu. Charlie stated that OIT always tries to contact the postmaster of an offending domain prior to blocking it. The software also blocks any mail from non-Duke to non-Duke users.

John Board asked whether the Ivy Group or others share lists of blocked domains. Charlie said they do not because not everyone agrees on the same definition of spam email. The banned domains are posted on the Duke website. He also noted that mail sent from outside Duke directly to a department's e-mail system does not go through this blocking software.

Other business

David Jamieson-Drake noted that pre-major advisors observed that campus maps are out of date on Duke's web site. It was generally agreed that these are an institutional resource and should be correct. Jim Dronsfield noted that the maps in the phone directory will be updated this year.

John Board noted a dramatic increase in external hacking and reported that all four engineering departments have been hacked in the last month in completely different and unrelated incidents. Melissa Mills noted a majordomo listserv duke-sysadmins@cs.duke.edu on which information about hacking is often posted. To subscribe, send e-mail to majordomo@cs.duke.edu with the message content:

subscribe duke-sysadmins

The group also gets together about once every two months for a talk on a Unix related subject. Leadership for the group is provided by two senior systems administrators: Ernest Bowman-Cisneros in Physics and Joe Shamblin in Computer Science.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:30PM.