Duke ITAC - February 26, 1998 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - February 26, 1998 Minutes

ITAC Minutes

February 26, 1998

Present: Rafael Rodriguez, Robert Wolpert, Betty Le Compagnon, Melissa Mills, Suzanne Maupin, Caroline Nisbet, Matthew Kotler, Jonathan Luebbers, Pat Driver, Rob Carter, Leslie Saper, Roger Loyd, Alvin Lebech, Rex McCallum, David Ferriero, Pakis Bessias, David Jamieson-Drake, John Oates, Bill Scarborough, Tom Black, Marion Shepard, John Sigmon, Michael Pickett, John Board

Meeting called to order by Robert Wolpert.

Review of Minutes and Announcements

The minutes from the February 12 ITAC meeting were approved.

Betty Le Compagnon gave a brief update on Charlie Register. Charlie is doing much better and his prognosis is looking better.

IT Salary Adjustment--Betty Le Compagnon

Duke University has been working with Sibson and Co. to look at IT salaries and redefine job descriptions. A lot of departments have immediate needs. They are losing people daily. Some people are using their own money to adjust salaries. Landen Bain was the first to do adjust the IT salaries at MCIS. The criteria for determining salary adjustments included the critical nature of the skills and how difficult it would be to replace a person. MCIS looked at all technical positions to see who should get salary adjustments. OIT is now involved in a similar process. Every OIT IT employee will get a letter stating whether they will be receiving an increase or not. If an increase is in order, an explanation will be given. If an increase is not in order than an explanation will also be given such as they are already at market level, etc.

Other departments may have the same problem. Don't stand by and lose your people. The deans will hear about this and if you feel strongly speak to your dean.

A question was raised as to whether this was new money or a reallocation. Betty Le Compagnon responded that this was a reallocation, not new funding. Using some vacant salary dollars. Departments may want to think of doing this. Other schools are doing this.

Bulk E-mail Policy

duke.computing has had an animated discussion on this subject. Tom Black (University Registrar) and Rob Carter (Sysadmin) joined us. Tom is here to discuss the policy aspects of the current situation.

Tom Black: I was told this was to be used primarily for academic purposes. At first I was not as careful, but was reminded and did try to follow the rubric. History of the use of bulk e-mail: Initially it was used by the registrar for class announcements and changes, such as openings and closings. The Bursar used it for billing information, etc. Financial aid used it one time. Then it was opened to departments to advertise. There appears to be a need and desire for certain groups to have access to other groups (e.g., students on probation). There have been times when a group had to be denied access, which I don't like doing. Posting a mass e-mail is a rather labor intensive process. In cases of over 100 people mailings are done overnight in a trickle.

Mike Pickett: What are the current policies for bulk mailing in the paper world?

Tom Black: The fee for 100 is $0.15 per piece.

Marion Shaperd: What is the lag time?

Tom Black: 24-48 hours

Betty Le Compagnon: Actual policy was put in place after snow "emergencies." Dr. Trask wanted better communication. In the case of an emergency approval came directly from the Executive Vice-President and then sent out. That policy was not set at the time and so I had Charlie Register draft a policy. Bulk e-mail was used in a non-emergency when Coach K was asked by the senior administration to draft a letter to be mailed to everyone.

Matt Kotler: The Student Computing Committee of DSG discussed this a few times after Coach K mailed his letter. Two points. First there are two different policies here. We need an announcement of this policy. What are the guidelines? Academic use only? How are revisions made? The policy needs to be public so that a group that wishes to send mass e-mails knows what to expect. Second point, this policy needs to be executed with a several groups in mind, such as students, faculty, and staff. If there is a gray area the decision goes to the committee.

Rafael Rodriguez: We need to consider the best method for disseminating information. In some cases a news group is a better method than bulk e-mail.

Betty Le Compagnon: Policy of that nature is not a technical issue but a political issue.

Marion Shepard: Certain administrators should have access. Administration should not have to go through a committee to send bulk e-mail.

Rob Carter: There is no way to preclude anyone from sending messages to anyone. If someone happens to have a mailing list on a non-OIT machine, they can send it.

Robert Wolpert: Is it possible to impose a $0.15 charge?

Rob Carter: The Purpose of the Arrangement with Tom Black was for three reasons.

  1. Gatekeeper
  2. Allows an individual to target specific students
  3. Purely for procedural reasons
As is the case with any mail system the limits on that system change with the speed and number of systems. There is, of course, the issue with mail slow-downs which returns us to the original discussion. If we could interrupt a bulk e-mailing we could trickle it out at night. This is an advantage from a technical point of view.

Marion Shepard: Is it possible to set a list delay by recognizing the person (sender) and then delaying the message.

Rob Carter: This is possible with a bulk mail list-server.

Matt: If we are going the route of IMAP 4 is it possible to set up a folder in everyone's inbox?

Rob Carter: This solves the social problem of invading someone's inbox with bulk e-mail, but it doesn't solve the loading problem.

Betty Le Compagnon: We really need to get back to what is the purpose of= bulk e-mail. In an emergency we want everyone to read the e-mail.

Mike Pickett: Be careful not to do something different in the electronic world than something we would do with regular mail. I fear that we otherwise will come up with a whole web of special electronic policies.

Rob Carter: Aren't there policies for Bulk-mail?

Tom Black: Yes. Guidelines are called FORPA. We have a system to charge people (for mailing labels).

Melissa Mills: How do we use mail, academics. Majordomo is used for e-mail lists. Deans and departments have a legitimate reason for bulk e-mail. Departments automatically have a facility to access their own students.

Matt Kotler: There are two uses for Bulk e-mail.

  1. Emergencies, class changes, and personal information about ACES.
  2. newsgroup for everything else

David Jamieson-Drake: SISS could help with this. The e-mail could recycle the mailings list, handle the process of using the mailing list.

Betty Le Compagnon: Next Steps. Matt has a good way to look at this. We need to define categories. Let's form a sub-committee to look at this issue. Tom Black will convene the group.

Cluster Upgrade Plan

Pat Driver: Basic plans are to upgrade approximately 1/3 of each of these platforms. Costs are costs estimates based on what we could do and on the numbers we have. Unix cost/workstation $4,257 for 41 workstations. Sparc 5s will be traded in. Three are needed for internal OIT use. We are looking at the possibility of a new cluster. We also need to upgrade the VIA cluster. That cluster has reached its limit (in terms of age) and needs to be upgraded if the engineers, etc are to be able to do anything useful with it. In addition there is money in this proposal to upgrade to MS Office, the latest version. The purpose of Option 1 under the Macintosh upgrades is to try to help students avoid going off campus for these purposes. The multi-media cluster would go into Old Chem. There is enough money to do the Unix, PCs and Option 1 of the Macintoshes.

John Board: How does this work with the expanded locations (outlined by DSG?).

David Jamieson-Drake: Why do all the new computers go to one spot?

Pat Driver: It's a support issue.

Melissa Mills: How about adding Zip drives.

Matt Kotler: Won't need to have Zip Drives, particularly with the advent of the Universal file system.

Melissa: They could be useful for archive purposes. Has there been consideration of chaining from Sun to Intel based platform?

John Board: What about a comparison between the performance of the PCI Suns vs. the S-Bus Suns.

Rob Carter: Right now we are tied up in a software investment. No need to rebuild software or to re-license it for a different platform. If we look at PCs we would need to look at the money involved in obtaining multiple licenses for software as well. It's not just hardware cost. We looked at the Ultra 5 and the Ultra 10 though we hadn't had a chance to lay our hands on one. On the outside it looks as if it is cheaper to buy replacement parts for them. Ultra 5 and Ultra 10 look like really fast PCs.

Jonathan Luebbers: Do you have the same problem with rebuilding and re-licensing software if you use Solaris x86?

Rob Carter: Yes, due to the hardware differences between Intel and Sun.

David Jamieson-Drake: It seems we are trapped into a particular platform because of our upgrade policy of 1/3 of the machines each year.

Betty Le Compagnon: This brings up the subject of Apple computers. It's in part a technology decision. What is the need for computers in teaching and learning. It would be relevant to track the type of computer brought to campus by students.

Melissa Mills: Macintosh pioneered multimedia platform and Desktop Publishing. No reason to write off one platform.

Robert Wolpert: Macintosh is not a useful platform for certain tasks.

Jonathan Luebbers: At this point this discussion isn't really relevant as there is currently not enough computing resources on campus to meet student need. Until that level has been reached having this discussion is rather pointless. We did track the types of computers students were bringing to campus a number of years ago. At the time approximately 2/3 of students brought PCs and 1/3 brought Macintoshes. However, using this statistic as justification for reforming the content of the clusters would be a mistake. The majority of students who don't bring computers to campus prefer to use the Macintosh.

Roger Wolpert: You could also look at the proposal as getting more PCs and not as not getting Macintoshes.

Matt Kotler: It would be premature to write off one platform.

John Oates: We are working with the assumption that we provide computers to students. When I went to school the school did not provide me with a Selectric Typewriter.

Leslie Saper: Point of Clusters. They are not supposed to mirror what students have. Macintoshes should be kept around for instructional use.

David Jamieson-Drake: What is the plan for educating undergraduates in the use of PC? The corporate world uses PCs. I am not saying that we should get rid of Macintosh.

Matt Kotler: We should look at next year now so we can make a more considered decision about the clusters. DSG looked at technical literacy three years ago.

Betty Le Compagnon: We said this last year too.

Someone asked how does Duke compare to other schools in terms of computers per student?

Betty Le Compagnon: That statistic is irrelevant. Need to look at the availability of computers. If you count the number of computers per student you can count all the computers on campus in ratio to the students, including computers to which the students don't have access. By counting the availability of computers for students you count the number of computers accessible to students per computer. Duke lands about in the middle on this.

Update on Technical Advisory Standing Committee on Institutional Directory

Rafael Rodriguez: The Technical Architecture Standing Committee (TASC) has been meeting for a little over two months. We have set up a web site that can be accessed at http://www.oit.duke.edu/architecture/. We have been working on security and on institutional directories. I expect to take a proposal for security to TASC within the next few weeks and then bring it to ITAC. I've asked Suzanne Maupin to join us today to discuss an approach to establishing an institutional directory.

Suzanne Maupin: The proposal is to develop a system that would link the two enterprise systems purchased by Human Resources (SAP) and Student Systems (PeopleSoft). The proposal is to link these two pieces together. We need to start planning this now. By doing so, we have a better chance of success. We have divided the task into a tactical plan and a strategic plan. On a tactical basis, I have been working with the Lotus Notes Advisory Committee to start providing directory services, namely the ph directory database merged with e-mail alias in the unique ID database. Additional information is available in Appendix A of the proposal.

For the longer term Enterprise solution, I propose a technical steering committee composed of the stewards of the primary data sources for institutional data. ITAC may be able to suggest the most appropriate people.

David Jamieson-Drake: There is some ability to group entities (resources) ie E-mail from the registrar's office.

Betty Le Compagnon: We should put together a technical team and they should present to the steering committee.

Robert Wolpert: A few minutes left. What can we do to help?

Suzanne Maupin: We need a general agreement that this is a good idea. Encourage use of e-mail aliases.

Melissa Mills: Not sure how concept of distributed e-mail fits into this...

David Jamieson-Drake: We need to work on short-term test database to get people excited.

Rafael Rodriguez: I would like to see comments back on this, please send technical comments to tasc@duke.edu.

Matt Kotler: Who is going to have access to this Database (e.g., Bulk e-mail)?

Suzanne Maupin: LDAP is very hierarchical. Access can be limited to one branch. Security is a big issue.

Rafael Rodriguez: The intent is not to provide the entire directory.

Robert Wolpert: Unless someone has any burning issues...

Meeting adjourned.