Duke ITAC - June 4, 1998 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - June 4, 1998 Minutes


June 4, 1998

Attending: Betty Le Compagnon, Rafael Rodriguez, Angel Marlowe, Ginny Cake, Bob Currier, Kevin Cheung, Jimmy Grewal, Rob Carter, Nevin Fouts, Paul Harrod, Michael Grubb, Tom Williams, LaVerne Mozingo, Mike Dodd, Travis Sherron, Melissa Mills, John Board, David Jamieson-Drake, Kyle Johnson, John Oates, Alvin Lebeck, Pakis Bessias, David Ferriero, Michael Pickett, George Oberlander, Landen Bain

Minutes were accepted


Betty Le Compagnon passed around the insert from the Cause and Effect magazine that profiled computing at Duke. Additional reprints are available from her office.

Betty has been appointed to the Microsoft product advisory council and will be attending a meeting in the near future. Please send any Microsoft issues to her.

IT Support Work Effort

Ginny Cake gave a report on the IT support work effort. She noted that a team has been working on the detail plan for several months. In rank order, the priorities were:

  • End user training
  • Training and certification for IT staff
  • Student support
  • Support in general
  • Support for PCs in homes
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Staffing

Sub-teams were created on the top five priority areas. Most groups will finish their recommendations next week, the rest within three weeks.

Betty and Landen will then review the recommendations. The area that will need a lot of thought is training and certification for IT staff. Support plans for enterprise projects will be reviewed to see if any suggestions for improvement can be made. Discussion followed:

John Board: Will staffing have to be increased?

Ginny: We want to make our existing resources as effective as possible. For some new areas, we may recommend adding staff.

David J-D: Have you thought any about where the responsibilities will lie? Especially in terms of splitting up support between the central areas and the departments/schools?

Ginny: A team started working on that area, but because of the number of issues it was dealing with, progress has been slow. We will be redistributing some of the tasks to make sure this issue gets the amount of attention it needs. We think that this is one of the most important issues.

John: Do you have a good representation of folks on the teams?

Ginny: I think all of the schools that have their own support staff are represented (reads list). If you?d like to add folks let me know.

John: Have you involved CLAC?

Ginny: Not directly, but there are a number of CLAC members on the group.

Melissa: At the beginning we invited folks from ASNA also.

David J-D: Sounds like a good approach.

Melissa: We are looking at how to make sure it is easy to get expert information from central sources as well as making sure that experts who are located in schools or departments can contribute their expertise to the computing community.

Review of the Duke Web Server Plan

John: We had a great model for addressing the email delivery problems we encountered a few years ago. I fear that we need to have a plan to make sure that Duke Web page performance doesn't become an embarrassment.

Rob Carter: We've got a growing number of people accessing our web pages and the web pages themselves are "fatter" so the server appears to be running slower. We are approaching the problem with the same model as our email plan. Currently we've got a dual-processing server running Solaris 2.3. Solaris 2.3 drops connections when there are a large number of network accesses. Sun notes that version 2.6 fixes the problem, but till recently campus FTP and other services were also provided on the same machine as the web server. We wanted to move the other services off of the web server before upgrading the Solaris version. The migration is nearly complete. However, even moving to version 2.6 leaves us vulnerable to scalability problems. To address this problem, we are moving to a multiple-server model. We will move to version 2.6 in the near future as a short-term fix. We will move the web services to a temporary server while configuring the original machine for 2.6. While we are doing this, we will configure the web server to support a multiple server model. We will need to purchase a second machine to provide this second web server. The work should be done by the end of the summer.

David J-D: Any metrics on seasonality of growth of use?

Rob: The curve is flattening out, but it is probably from the connection problem

John: Do you have statistics?

Michael Grubb: www.duke.edu/stats shows the statistics.

John: Are you sure the speed problems are related to connection limitations and not machine limitations?

Rob: We think it is the connection problem now

John: What software are you running?

Michael Grubb: NCSA with a number of patches

John: This server is institutional critical. We need to have a backup.

George Oberlander: Are you doing much CGI scripting? CGI loads could look like a network connection problem.

Rob: No, because of security, we don't allow much, that is why we are putting in a separate CGI server. We're sure it is not a CGI problem.

Nevin: This sounds like we are building a web infrastructure, not just a server. This is the way to go.

John: How's the email service holding up?

Rob/Michael: We peaked at around 450,000 messages per day at the end of the semester. We should stay ahead of our growth rate through the year. We are moving towards bigger servers rather than using smaller machines.

Update on Wiring Project

Project team members attending:

  • LaVerne Mozingo
  • Tom Williams
  • Mike Dodd
  • Travis Sherron
  • Bob Currier

LaVerne presented some summary statistics on the wiring project:

  • 83 buildings were originally planned in the project
  • 4843 connections were originally estimated

To date, 4738 connections have been completed and 48 buildings wired. We have 29 buildings to go. We got off to a slow start and have been able to catch up. It looks like by the end of next June, we will either be finished or the final buildings will be under construction. LaVerne is projecting that we'll wire 560 outlets for year 4. This would be roughly 5% over the original projections. We probably won't wire Card Gym since they are going to move everyone out and gut the building. Melissa has been great help.

Kyle Johnston: I'm confused. You are projecting 560 additional outlets and 29 buildings. That seems like a low number of outlets.

LaVerne: The year 4 buildings are smaller than the first 3 years. The buildings are spread all over campus.

Melissa: Is the Primate Center on the list?

LaVerne: Yes, it was added recently

Jimmy Grewal: Don't forget that the new cluster machines will support 100 meg connections.

Bob: We haven't.

David J-D: What about the future after the project. Who is thinking about this?

LaVerne: The Data Com group..

Betty: The wiring should last for quite a while, it is the electronics that will need renewal.

Rafael: Reinforced Betty's point.

Jimmy: Could we revisit the evolution of networking over the summer? We should see if we'll need to change standards in the near future.

Rafael: Yes, we've been discussing some of these issues in the Technical Architecture Standing Committee.

Other business

Kyle: Caroline asked me to ask about the way that decisions on web content are made. Is there anyone who is responsible? Are there guidelines?

Betty: Dennis Meredith chairs a committee that is developing policy and procedure to support this. Public Affairs is bearing the responsibility (John Burness).

Michael Grubb (on web committee) : Policies and procedures are being developed. If you look at the bottom of the web pages, you can send comments or questions. They will be routed to the committee if needed.

Kyle: It would be nice to have the minutes of the web committee published.

Michael Grubb: Many questions are resolved directly by Dennis Meredith or John Burness.

Kyle: Any updates on GTE ADSL?

Rafael: We got a revised contract proposal yesterday. We are beginning the review of the proposal. What was sent in email earlier was a press release of the volume service offering, not a real service offering. Bell South has an ADSL pilot with UNC. They should roll out service in this area in October. Rafael said he was following up on their offerings with Bell South.

Kyle: Any issues around how billing will be handled? Can individuals pay?

Angel: I'll work with Paul Harrod to get the answer for you. We are allowed to bill students directly because it is part of our mission to serve students. It becomes problematic with employees. It can effect our tax status.

Meeting adjourned at 5:05