Duke ITAC - October 10, 1998 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - October 10, 1998 Minutes


October 10, 1998

Present: Ed Anapol, Pakis Bessias, Chris Cramer for John Board, Kevin Cheung, Jim Dronsfield, Jim Coble for David Ferriero, Joseph Kovasckitz for Nevin Fouts, Mike Gower, Jimmy Grewal, Paul Harrod, Donna Hewitt, David Jamieson-Drake, Roger Loyd, Melissa Mills, Kyle Johnson for Caroline Nisbet, John Oates, Mike Pickett, Rafael Rodriguez, Les Saper, George Oberlander for Bill Scarborough, John Sigmon, Clark Smith, Robert Wolpert
Guests: Charles Register, Bob Currier, John Collins, Alan Halachmi

Rafael Rodriguez called the meeting to order since Betty was at Ivy+ and Robert Wolpert was at Academic Council at the beginning of today's meeting

John Oates reported that the Duke University Web Site Committee asked the Academic Council Executive Committee (ECAC) to nominate faculty members for service on the Committee as per the recommendation of ITAC. The ECAC has agreed to do so and some faculty, including John Oates, have accepted the nomination.

E-mail aliasing

Rafael summarized by saying that return e-mail addresses are often cryptic. Charlie Register explained details about e-mail aliasing, beginning with the strictly voluntary use of the "easy-to-remember" duke.edu alias to stronger encouragement of use of that. However in the end administrators can only encourage use of aliases, since so many mail servers are distributed and it's only safe to do so much on the fly.

  • OIT will do more as a clearinghouse of how to implement aliasing for local sysadmins
  • Notes has standardized on the full name alias as the return address for mail traveling outside of Notes. For mail inside of notes, the person's name is automatically substituted
  • the alias server is a layer atop the old acpub system; more will be done to further integrate the two systems so that every address will become user@duke.edu; however, this will confuse some mailing lists, so care is being taken during this transition but in the end some users may need to resubscribe to mailing lists, especially to private or "closed" lists, to accommodate this
  • Notes and cc:Mail may strip off info (often provided in quotes) including the full name even when it is supplied by the sender, especially if it has passed through one or more replies or forwards

Rafael indicated that all students should receive their full name alias in correspondence notifying them that their e-mail account has been assigned. Charlie added that the full name alias should be added to the Registrar files and that would solve a lot of the problems.

Remote access update

analog modem pool: no changes made to it since end of spring semester. usage stats are about the same as spring semester. Long term pool is at full usage from early morning until midnight; express pool usage is up by about 10%
ADSL: up to 70 or so installations of 108 requests for installation. GTE looked at the T1 line and found no saturation so we can add 60-70 users before needing to upgrade that. Some users have not gotten performance expected and GTE is looking at this with OIT, no solution yet but one expected within a few days. GTE is also looking at proactive monitoring (as opposed to solely reactive troubleshooting) to expedite service. Duke has 135k of software to monitor bandwidth performance and that is being deployed to users who are having problems. Rafael is in contact with BellSouth who is not yet deploying ADSL locally but probably will soon and has more aggressive pricing than GTE.
Cable modem: Bob is a tester of this which has provided excellent performance to date.

George O. questioned the four hour limit on the extended modem pool given that it is maxed out. Mike P. said one of the criteria was how long it is to download a new version of Netscape. A student indicated online course readings require a couple of hours login time minimum. Jim D. indicated ADSL technology only permits up to 70% of the users at any given central office to receive this service. Bob indicated most logins to the express pool were less than two hours.

Rafael gave an update on IBM Global Network: they added a surcharge if you connect from outside your zone, and for those who sign up or change service levels after January 1999, there will be no more child accounts (previously each account had been allowed up to five child accounts). Rafael is contacting alternative vendors for this service in case these changes make the IBM service (which is rumored to be up for sale) less attractive. Melissa M. indicated even with these changes IGN is still a pretty great service.

NCNI and Internet II

Rafael introduced John Collins to lead the discussion of the I2 conference he recently attended. Highlights: genesis of I2 was from supercomputing centers and NSF which could no longer do work in commodity internet; MCI won contract to develop vBNS. Universities wanted to develop a high speed internet also; vBNS didn't efficiently meet their needs, so "Abilene" developed and is in beta test -- slated to go into production 1/1/99. NCNI has a gigapop with unique hierarchical approach allowing it to run production services on the network as well as research support. Three issues for NCNI:

  • quality of service priorities, e.g. Voice IP vs. video -- even with a lot of bandwidth, some services require high priority to work at all
  • middleware: how do vBNS and Abilene handshake, provide authorization and authentication, provide accounting and billing services; no consensus on what this means, however multicast, particularly, is inefficient and requires compatibilities across systems that don't necessarily feature those compatibilities (protocol stacks, policies and standards vary from one regional system to another)

John asked the group to look at the web pages provided in the handout and consider what uses might be made of the high speed internet -- what research and educational applications could make use of this.

Questions arose about "quality of service". This will require bureaucracy and fees to deliver. Telephony has experience with this but IP world doesn't. John S. said senior staff of House Science Committee is visiting next week, and nothing about this is on their agenda; could Duke's utilization of I2 be on their docket? Bob C. said that is something we'd want to do.

SAP Negotiation Update

Mike P. gave an update on SAP. Duke's implementation seeks to be as vanilla as possible. 10k tables on the database, it's a monster system. Even so there are things at Duke SAP doesn't do. During gap analysis the SAP team asks "can Duke do things SAP's way" to avoid modifications to SAP. Specific gaps found in HR/payroll include, e.g.:

  • paying for secondary appointments
  • monthly withholding exempt payroll (student payroll) which is a painful way to do payroll and SAP can't do as we do
  • 1042S foreign national reporting for taxes
  • multiple vendors for payroll benefits
  • some aspects of time management, i.e., managing shifts in the MC

SAP agreed in the contract to take care of these, and has further agreed to pay substantial penalties if these fixes aren't delivered on time; they sent programmers from Germany and we sent Todd Orr and Robin Miller went to Waldorf to schedule programmers to close gaps. January 1 2000 is current date to bring up payroll on SAP, after 3 months running in parallel. This avoids Y2k problem for Raleigh Community Hospital. Feb-March time frame will see general ledger, materials management, new procurement, and several other modules"go live." Technical testing is going well, but what the technical changes mean in terms of operational/"business" implications is not yet clear. A training vendor is developing "training scripts" but even with web based training the schedule is so tight nurses will need to be trained around the clock even on weekends and holidays. SAP runs some functions on a Palm Pilot -- very cool!