Duke ITAC - November 30, 2000 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - November 30, 2000 Minutes


November 30, 2000

Attending: Ben Allen, Pakis Bessias, Ken Hirsh for Dick Danner, Nevin Fouts, Ed Gomes, Mike Gower, Alan Halachmi, Patrick Halpin, Donna Hewitt, Bob Newlin for David Jamison-Drake, Ken Knoerr, Andrew Keck for Roger Loyd, Melissa Mills, Kyle Johnson for Caroline Nisbet, George Oberlander, Jim Coble for Lynne O'Brien, Mike Pickett, Rafael Rodriguez, Mike Russel, Edward Shanken, Jeff Taekman, Robert Walport,
Guests: Billy Hearndon, Bob Currier, Ginny Cake, Chris Cramer,

Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • The minutes were sent out electronically on Tuesday. No changes were needed to the minutes.
  • A reminder that Charlie Register's retirement party will be held at the University Club on Monday, December 11, from 4-6 pm.

Student Phone and Video Charge Process

Angel Dronsfield:
Duke University has been working on a proposal in which phone charges would be paid invisibly.

Local service is currently billed monthly at $17.95/month for a single room connection. Fees are normally shared by roommates, with one roommate considered be the owner of the service. Each connection has individual voice mail boxes for each roommate. Since students view the phone as a necessary utility, and not a luxury OIT wanted to move the charges for local phone service to dorm room charges. Although local phone service is optional for students in the dorms, there is a 99% subscription rate among students. DSG has passed a resolution to put the phone bill on the bursars bill.

Complications to this plan occur when payments are delinquent. Delinquency usually results in a disconnection of service. This is not ideal, since disconnection of service removes 911 access for students and a loss of access to students for the parents. A long list of procedures must then be followed to notify delinquent users to keep disconnection from occurring. After disconnection has occurred, and if delinquency continues, then other remedies to collect payment kick in. Class registration is blocked, and finally withholding of transcripts can occur.

In some cases, roommates were not aware that the service owner had failed to pay and were upset with loss of services. Several ideas were submitted. Several phone lines per room could be installed. Problems with this idea included confusion over having multiple phones and having one of more roommates that might not be able to afford a phone on their own. DSG passed (by one vote) a proposal supporting multiple phone lines per room. A proposal for a line per student was turned down at the budget committee level as cost prohibitive. Since OIT wanted to get out of the phone disconnection business, one way of reducing the disconnection rate was to offer prepaid service. With this option, shut off of service fell from approximately 500 instances to 10.

DSG recently brought up resolution again this year to add phone service to the room bill, which raised the following questions. If phones are a required room charge, how is financial aid affected? The issue is under review, but phone charges would be less if the service is mandatory. Duke will have to cover the difference for aid, but savings in paperwork and service cost may offset the duke responsibility

Modem pool

Bob Currier/Ginny Cake:
OIT recently lost operation of one terminal server to the extended modem pool. As a result, multiple connections in the extended modem pool were lost. Due to the age of the equipment it is likely that more failures will occur. Current utilization of the modem pool service shows approximately 1500-2000 calls per day to extended modem pool. OIT, with the support of ITAC, has already made the decision to not continue to spend money to maintain or improve an obsolete service. If services were to fail, they are not going to be repaired or replaced. 33,600 bps is the maximum speed for the modem pool, and new modems have issues with connectivity to the service. The help desk answers a large number of calls dealing with users having problems connecting.

Question - What is the number of unique users accessing the modem pool?
2000-3000 unique ids are actively using system, but this is a drop from a few years ago.

Question - What is the threshold level, when do you pull the plug?
The answer is not clear. Brown University and University of Pennsylvania have pulled the plug on their modem pools. Because of the age of the system, new source code is not available for up to date security plans for the ACPUB system.

Question - Could money saved by reduction of service be set aside for creating support for current user base?
Possibly, but how long do we continue to support the technology? For questions relating to the service, help desk points users to the OIT web site on alternatives to the modem pool. Users also question why duke users have to pay if most of what they do is Duke work.

Other issues - setting up other options is an issue, also mobile users.

Question - What is the mix of users?
40% professional/graduate school students. Most of the rest are professional, faculty, staff, or medical center personnel. Fuqua has moved from supporting it's modem pool. Comment - Free i-net companies may require more security info than users want to give. Users are informed that this information is requested, and they are at risk. It was suggested that OIT should warn users of this issue, and refer them to high speed access options.

Question - Could we reserve the current solution to mobile users, since now these systems (ATT), are more and more expensive?
Several suggestions were for departmental accounts for travelling users. This will solve problem until the hardware dies off. Duke can't possibly be a better option than existing solutions. It is the best solution for some users. Whatever we decide, the user community should be notified what the issues are and the future of the system. Maybe Duke could arrange for ATT or some company to provide better service for groups. Managed VPN service for travelling users to access Duke services was also suggested.

Question - What should we do? Do we have a cut off date? How much time will we give users before we take down the system?
A steering committee will look at the issues and come back with a recommendation. In the meantime, we should notify users of the current problems, the chance that it may fail shortly, and start referring users to other, better options. If we make any decision that will affect users in the fall, we should send out this information before the end of second semester.

Internet Bandwidth Utilization

    2. We have access to 350 megabits/sec capacity on the NCNI ring - Duke is averaging 85 megabits/sec, NC State 150 megabits/sec and UNC uses 140 megabits/sec.
    3. Outbound packets currently have a 4 to 1 ratio between the most traffic intensive protocol and the next highest protocol. Inbound traffic is predominantly web traffic.
  2. Bob Currier: Questions were raised by a committee studying bandwidth utilization on campus. Investigation into the issue revealed some statistics given here.

    We could limit services to open up bandwidth. Current utilization is close to maxing out our available capacity.

    Question - What is our best option to reduce problem?
    Cap bandwidth for some services. If institutional work is being reduced due to bandwidth problems, reducing traffic to certain high bandwidth services could be the institution's responsibility. It's a quality of service (QOS) issue. Issues are being discussed on how to increase bandwidth for the triangle schools at the CIO level to help alleviate this problem.

Duke Group e-mail policy

A subcommittee of ITAC created a draft policy on group e-mail. The goal is to have a single page policy that can be useful in preventing users from filling up their personal e-mail accounts.

Comment - The sub committee did a terrific job coming up with the document.

The policy is the first step in a knowledge track. We need to move to the next step in the process.

Question - Does this cover the health system?
Still to be determined, but it is possible that it can be used. ITAC specifically addresses campus issues, however this policy was seen this as a policy that crosses the institutional boundaries.

An editorial comment was made to change the word network to systems in section 1, item 5

ITAC voted unanimously to approve this document and send it to Betty for approval.

Additional comments

CLAC had discussions on ethics for network administrators. The session ran short on time and will be continued at a future CLAC meeting. Could this group take up this discussion with network administrators at some future meeting?