Duke ITAC - May 21, 1998 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - May 21, 1998 Minutes


May 21, 1998

211 Tel-Com


Attending: Robert Wolpert, Chair, Rafael Rodriguez, Vice Chair, Landen Bain, Pakis Bessias, John Board, Pete Boyd, Ginny Cake, Kevin Cheung, Jim Coble (for David Ferriero), Bob Currier, Dick Danner, Jim Dronsfield, Nevin Fouts, Jimmy Grewal, David Jamieson-Drake, Kyle Johnson, Alvin Lebeck, Roger Loyd, Melissa Mills, John Oates, Mike Pickett, James Rigney, Leslie Saper, Bill Scarborough, Hank Tomlinson, Betty Le Compagnon

Call to Order: 4:03 pm, by Robert (chair)

Old Minutes

Old minutes were approved.


Rafael: Charlie Register is doing well and is at home. He has taken 60 steps, logged on and saw 5000 unread messages!

Betty: The orders are in for cluster upgrades and part of the IBM order is in (350 MHz machines---400MHz would have taken too long).

Welcome to new members, Kevin Cheung (School of Engineering) and Jimmy Grewal (Trinity College).

IVY+ CIO and Administrative Computing meetings updates

Mike reported a good turnout from other schools at the Administrative Computing meeting. Much discussion regarding Enterprise systems (Oracle, SAP, and PeopleSoft) and tales of how one survived installation. Training seems to be essential; announcements of forthcoming changes should be made early and often. For most users, a Web access mode seems best; the direct screens on PeopleSoft are mainly for back office personnel. Funding for changeovers is usually inadequate however.

David Jamieson-Drake: What are people's favorite system?

Answer: Oracle and PeopleSoft, but no one is thrilled with any. It is not easy to implement distributed technology for administrative systems.

Betty: Cornell is not doing Financials. Warning: what we are doing is not easy and there are problems ahead.

Nevin: Michigan is switching cold-turkey to SAP on July 1st.

Betty said that there was much discussion at the IVY CIO meeting on IT staffing. How to keep good people? Bonuses, mortgage help. Stanford gives staff (not all!) an ISDN line, but wants replies on weekends. They figure one more hour of help a month is worth it.

John Board: But there may be grumbling from others. At Cornell there is a revolt.

Betty: There was discussion regarding web design. The approaches: Techie, Committee (stodgy), Design. Questions (w/o answers) that arose: should all info be online? All units? Is info current? Guidelines for web design? How to distinguish official school information from nonofficial? Are links to commercial sites ok? (conflict of interest?) Free speech vs. institutional image problem. At what web level should a unit be?

What should a search find? (an entry from a student that a certain professor is a jerk?) Copyright issues? Who is responsible for web material? [Duke seems to be the first to transfer control of its web page to Public Affairs.] If the web page is official University information, when and how is it archived?

Nonweb questions: what is the next big problem for IT at Universities? Perhaps new markets or new revenue sources? What about difficulties caused by mergers of institutions? Cooperation between institutions to leverage buying power?

Process Issues from Reengineering Projects

John Board: There was criticism from faculty in the Academic Council regarding the new Procurement process. The question is, what can ITAC and others do to do better in other projects?

Mike Pickett: Communication. Get input up front. Don't cut staff and then give them extra work (as was done for procurement)!

The problem in procurement is really not IT or SAP, but the contracts with the storeroom operator and the procurement card. They will hire new staff and convert temps to full time.

[Originally a 30 million dollar savings was promised. Where is it? The author of the promise is no longer at Duke.]

We have now finished a blueprint for Project Enterprise; 14 volumes (4000 pages). Now we are in the process walkthrough stage. Integration testing starts in September---there is no time to waste! The year 2000 is coming and so are hospital acquisitions. The timeline is tight.

John: So there were big promises of savings which led to cuts in staffing and thus new problems. Are we repeating these problems for other systems?

Mike: We have no dollar savings promises, but it may save.

Betty: The problem is wrong expectations. End users think there will be easy access to information, but that won't happen at first. Be careful about what story you tell. Also be careful if comments made at a focus session are not taken; keep people informed as to why certain decisions were made.

Mike: It will get worse before it gets better; we are building the foundation. The system only has one lane, not three.

Melissa: Put THAT in memos! Let people know.

Landon: Procurement was underfunded and was handled by one person. Project Enterprise is wellfunded and is well-staffed.

Mike: But the timeline is too tight.

David: How to perform rollout is still unclear. What can ITAC do to help regarding expectation, technical architecture, implementation? What is the best way to do these things.

Betty: We should help for all 3, but there is no known model for rollout.

David: We need to write the book for Universities, not corporations.

Melissa: The Deans' offices need to be informed as well as the departments.

Comment: Training needs to mirror real-world situation---don't use super high powered machines with direct connections to the database.

Mike: The ground rule is: Tell the Truth.

Review of Modem Pool Data

Q: 15 minutes for the express pool works well. Could it be 25 (30) minutes?

Bob Currier: (Passed out charts showing modem pool status (express and extended) over the period 4/27 - 5/10, with data collected every 30 minutes.) We can see that the extended pool is usually saturated with busy signals during the day. The express pool is usually open, but with usage often near saturation. Note that 50% of the users of the extended pool are on for < 20 minutes. Some people perhaps think 15 minutes is too short so they don't even try. On Express, often people cut out on their own at 14 minutes and 50% before 7 minutes.

If the limit on the express pool was increased, would many users of the extended pool go over and saturate the express pool? Perhaps and perhaps not.

Comment: I would prefer to know I will be cut off at 15 minutes AND know that I could get back on if necessary.

Comment: Students off campus like to use pine.

Conclusion: The system is not broken; don't fix it.

Update on GTE ADSL Service

Rafael: GTE is promising a June rollout. They have filed for an offering which should be approved shortly. The focus is on ISP's which promise a minimum number of users and a minimum amount of time; this fits with us, since we would have no worry about Proxy servers.

The basic offering (bronze) is 256K bps download and 64K bps upload at around $50/month (includes the modem). This goes up to platinum level, 1 1/2 mil bps download and 768k bps upload at around $100/month.

Bell South recently announced they would offer ISP services to consumers. But they and GTE will only operate in their own territories. We will try to bring in both to handle all Duke's needs.

We expect a Duke offering in 30 days. There will be an installation fee and one must lease or buy a modem ($12/month or $300). The idea is, we will buy wholesale and redistribute.

Comment from student: GTE recently quoted me $30/month for 256k bps download etc as a private individual.

Rafael: I will look into that.

Probably the University will pay and employees would reimburse; clearly there is an administrative cost to departments.

Comment: For the business we are giving them, we should get a better price!

ResNet Upgrade

The East Campus residence was done last summer. This year for others, three vendors were reviewed (Bay, Cabletron, Cisco) and we decided to go with Cisco. Previously used Cabletron.

Comment: The med center uses Cisco as well.

We do the residences now since this is the best window.

Comment: We need to balance student needs with others.

Architecture that should be used? Switched is the way to go.

Computer Purchases Work Effort

Rafael: This is a joint purchasing plan for the Computer Store, MCIS, and OIT. (Passed around a draft of "Blue Devil Systems" with a chart of how it will work.) We went to 14 entities and distributors. The idea was to streamline the process and get value. We want price, convenience, speed, and service. Machines should be preloaded with Duke software, either for students or administrators. We decided to go with Dell and MicroAge (which handles IBM, HP, and others). The prices are good (better than Gateway or Micron for preloaded machines).

Question: What software will be behind the Web interface for purchasing?
Suggestion: look at "Web Objects".

Q: Is the intent to offer flexibility or just offer bundles?
A: Both.

Q: How often will prices be adjusted?
A: Monthly.

John Board: That seems too slow.

There should be a regular discount that is applied to the outside price. That way the pricing is adjusted continuously.

Q: Can the system be broadened to non-WinTel machines or other systems?
A: If it is effective, yes. Our goal here was simply to find machines with preloaded software at a good price.

Robert adjourned the meeting at 5:30