Duke ITAC - September 16, 2004

DUKE ITAC - September 16, 2004


September 16, 2004

ITAC - September 16, 2004

Members present: Mike Baptiste, John Board, Shailesh Chandrasekharan, Dick Danner represented by Ken Hirsh, Angel Dronsfield, Tracy Futhey, Christopher Gelpi, Michael Gettes, Daron Gunn, Güven Güzeldere, Paul Harrod represented by Alfred Trozzo, Billy Herndon, David Jamieson-Drake represented by Bob Newlin, David Jarmul, Roger Loyd, Greg McCarthy, Melissa Mills, Caroline Nisbet represented by Kyle Johnson, Lynne O'Brien, George Oberlander, Mike Pickett, Mark Rice, Dalene Stangl, Molly Tamarkin, Robert Wolpert

Guests present: Courtney Lockemer, OIT; Jim Rigney, Duke Computer Store; Chris Cramer, IT Security; Sue Jarrell, SISS; Dan McCarriar, OIT; Vernon Thornton, OIT; Debbie DeYulia, OIT; Ginny Cake, OIT; Dr. Tallman Trask; Phil Lemmons, News and Communications; John Harer; Angel Dronsfield, OIT

Start time: 4:08 pm

I. Minutes and announcements

Chris Cramer says NetID password cracking will begin next week. E-mails notifications will go out to holder of weak NetID passwords, and if a weak password is not changed after 3 notifications, the password will be cancelled. Until the user fixes the password he will not have network access.

Tracy explains, for those who haven’t been following previous discussions on this topic, that we know there are passwords out there that can easily be broken and this initiative is designed to address that problem.

Lynne O’brien says CIT is working on Blackboard problems and she feels most of them are resolved. If any ITAC members or their co-workers are still encountering problems please submit a ticket through the Help Desk. An informal poll of Blackboard users shows things are getting better.

Dalene Stengl and Mark Rice introduce themselves to ITAC. Both are new to ITAC this academic term and this is their first meeting.

Eric is no longer going to take notes. Courtney Lockemer is new to OIT News and Information and will be taking notes from here out. Eric will be back for one more meeting.

II. Update on start of school – Help Desk

Presented by: Debbie DeYulia

Debbie introduces Vernon Thornton the manager of the Help Desk. Debbie hands out stats on phone calls and Web submittals (e-mails). NetID was an issue. iPods generated a lot of calls. 18 iPods were defective and sent back to computer repair.

The new walk up window of the Help Desk is going well. There has been a 150% increase in traffic to the window compared to this time last year, probably due to the new location being in the Brian Center. Cell phones seem to be the biggest draw to the walk up window.

Debbie says the Help Desk has seen more Technology Advantage Program (TAP) computers this year than non-TAP computers. However, the problems have not been near the volume that they were last year.

Students With Access to Technology (SWAT) went well; however, the number of students helped is down. This is probably due to the network and NetReg working very well this year compared to last year, and things were coordinated well between groups and departments.

John Board, referring to the stats on the handout, asks if it is true that 400 computers have been brought in to the Help Desk in the first month. That number seems high to him. It is 10% of the undergraduate student body.

Debbie says it is true, and that number is actually down from last year’s figure, but last year there were a lot of virus problems.

Mike Pickett asks if most of the computers seen were laptops.

Vernon estimates 90% were laptops.

John asks if the Help Desk is installing firewall software or relying on Microsoft.

Vernon says Kerio is being installed.

Robert Wolpert asks about service pack 3. Was that a problem?

Vernon says thus far it has not been a problem and he and the service center have been testing it.

III. Discussion with Tallman Trask

Dr. Trask says he likes to come by ITAC every so often to make sure everyone is okay with the direction we’re headed. He feels we’re clearly ahead of where we were five years ago, and that we are seen as a national player in IT where we weren’t 5 years ago. He believes one of Duke’s IT accomplishments was that we actually managed to replace all of our core administrative systems when we said we would and none of them crashed and none cost a lot of money. He thinks the story of Duke IT is generally positive, but we have a lot of work to do still.

John Board asks what Dr. Trask thinks about our ability to extract value from all the data we have collected.

Dr. Trask says there is more data than ever, but when it comes to extracting data, none of the systems are perfect. He thinks we’re doing well, but nothing is perfect. Our transactions are more reliable and secure, but this is always a work in progress and will never be “fixed.” It is a lifetime commitment.

John Board asks who will decide the appropriate reliability for services like power and telephony on campus.

Dr. Trask says that we worry a lot about things like electrical power to computer rooms and less about power to unoccupied dorm rooms. There is no way to decide what is appropriate. He doesn’t think we can answer those questions. However, there are places on campus where almost 100% of telephone reliability is required. Still, he doesn’t think VOIP is the answer right now. Referring to the recent tests of VOIP, he says we need to be clear that these things are experiments and there is no commitment to go beyond that.

John asks about the alumni development system plans.

(Dr. Trask’s response is classified.)

John asks if Dr. Trask thinks we are deploying technology appropriately for campus security.

Dr. Trask feels we know what to do technically, but we don’t know what to do with policy issues. Duke has operated historically as an open campus. Dr. Trask says he has taken a lot of grief for closing Wannamaker and for restricting the ability of anyone to drive through campus any time he wants, at any speed he wants to drive. He says we will install additional cameras in places, concentrating more on building access. He’s not convinced that this kind of technology is useful inside buildings.

John asks how the Duke Police Department is using technology.

Dr. Trask says they are well equipped, but there are issues that we don’t know how to solve. For example, the expanded jurisdiction means DUPD officers might need to talk to Durham Police and that requires DUPD officers to carry an extra radio.

Robert Wolpert asks about making HR-type data more available. Is now the time to do that?

Dr. Trask says the project to make SAP data more available is just getting started. We want to make sure we have a process of work in place. We need to put all these things together. The employment/de-employment process is a good example of something that would benefit from more self-maintenance.

IV. Research computing update

Presented by: John Harer

John Harer says last year ITAC and faculty discussed how we might support cluster computing on campus. Lots of people back then were buying clusters, but they weren’t working very well and weren’t being managed very well.

John says in response to those issues, we’ve come up with the Duke shared cluster resource. It is in the 300-node range, but growing very quickly. It has been quite successful based on the growth rate.

The original idea was that the cluster was for high-performance computing and serious parallel computing by researchers who were going out to get grants for their research.

The current model is that faculty/researchers buy the machines they want to use and we do everything else; We provide the power, cooling, and systems administration. These services are a joint project between OIT and the Provost’s Office.

One future challenge is that the cluster growth is scary. John estimates we’ll probably need 7 times the space for growth in the next 3 or 4 years.

Grids are another issue. How do we prepare ourselves for distributed computing? We’re working on this.

John Board says we are planning presentations on the light rail and other issues in the near future to help determine how we prepare for grid computing.

Robert Wolpert asks if the cluster will move to the Telcom building.

John isn’t sure if that has been decided yet.

Shailesh asks if any faculty can put in a proposal and get time on the cluster—Is it that simple?

John says the answer is yes and no. The plan is that we guarantee a researcher X number of cycles, 24 hours a day, but we get the leftover cycles when the researcher is not using them, and we dole them out to other faculty wanting time on the cluster. Unfortunately, so far there have not been a lot of leftover cycles.

V. VOIP task force update

Presented by: Dan McCarriar, Nhan Vo

The group has been looking at all the practical applications of VOIP and which of those might be interesting to us. We are trying to define the space where we will do our evaluations. Then we will determine our technical and functional requirements.

John Board says it is important that the task force is made up of both OIT and the Health System.

Molly asks if anyone on campus is currently using VOIP.

Angel says some people are, but it is sporadic. Dan says the Health System is using it in some applications.

Robert Wolpert asks if there is a date for this investigation to be finished.

Dan says January 3rd.

VII. Update on start of school - computer stores

Presented by: Jim Rigney

(Tracy’s presentation on the Microsoft campus agreement was pre-empted by Jim).

Jim says over 1,000 notebooks were sold through the computer store this semester. Only 29 desktops were sold.

IBM was the big gainer this year, and there was a marked increase in Apple sales, though they are still a small percentage.

Ken Hirsh asks how we attribute IBM gaining at the expense of Dell?

Jim says IBM came in with very aggressive pricing, and their products are very well made and becoming well known.

What did the students buy:

  • 65% bought 15 inch or larger screens.
  • 38% bought dvd burners.
  • 46% bought IBM think pads.
  • USB keys were a big mover.
  • IPod and iPod accessories also sold well.

John Board asks about tablet sales. Jim says they have dropped off. Only 2 were sold to undergraduate students this year.

Only 46% of orders came in through the Web. The rest were telephone sales and mail-in sales.

Mike Pickett asks if any brands are physically holding up better? Jim says no, damage seems to be equal among brands.

Tracy asks how we explain the 50% jump since last year.

Jim says this year we mailed the catalogs to parents rather than students. Also, the second e-mail students received notified them that the catalog was coming. Next year he would like to send that e-mail to parents if we have the addresses.

John Board asks what fraction of annual sales comes at the beginning of the year. Jim says only about 20%. The school sells lots of hardware and software year round.

VI. Microsoft campus agreement

Presented by: Tracy Futhey

Microsoft campus agreement is a program where if we pay one set price on an annual basis we are entitled to distribute licenses on OS and software like MS Office. Several years ago this did not look worth doing. It is now looking like this might be a viable alternative. The economics are close to working out for faculty and staff, but there are issues for using this program for students.

Tracy says we are in the beginning of this discussion so this is something for everyone at ITAC to think about.

Melissa asks if this will also cover licenses for home use. Tracy says yes. That is part of the agreement.

George Oberlander asks if any MS software will be excluded.

Jim Rigney says yes. Typically OS Office Suite and CALs are covered, but it is possible to add more.

VIII. Other business


End: 5:30