Duke ITAC - August 3, 2006 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - August 3, 2006 Minutes


Aug. 3, 2006

Members present : Jeffrey Forbes for Owen Astrachan, Pakis Bessias, John Board, Ken Hirsh for Dick Danner, Tracy Futhey, Susan Gerbeth-Jones, Michael Gettes, Michael Goodman, Mark Phillips, Billy Herndon, Julian Lombardi, Roger Loyd, Dan Murphy, Kyle Johnson, George Oberlander, Mike Pickett, Rafael Rodriguez, Tom Wall, Robert Wolperts

Guests:Heather Flanagan, OIT; Todd Orr, HR; Ned Neeley, HR; Kevin Miller, OIT; Elliott Wolf, DSG

Start time : 4:05


I. Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • John Board opened the meeting with two announcements from Heather Flanagan. The email system will be shut down for routine maintenance the night of Friday, Aug. 4. Molly Tamarkin injured her leg and will move her office to one with fewer steps.

II. Early Observations -- Susan Gerbeth-Jones from the Nicholas School and Michael Goodman from Pratt

Both described the processes they were going through to become familiar with the faculty and staff, and they expressed eagerness to work closely with OIT and other schools.

III. Email quota tool - Heather Flanagan

Heather Flanagan – We have written a new tool that allows DukeMail users to increase their email quotas whenever they need. Notices will be sent when they reach 92 percent, 95 percent and 97 percent of their capacity. The emails will have instructions on how to increase the quota by visiting Online@Duke or by calling the Help Desk. This allows us to only increase quotas for users who actually use their email, but not for those who don’t use email. The default quota is 100 MB.

Question – Why not just automatically increase someone’s quota?

Heather – Spam will fill up a quota quickly. If we do it automatically, dormant mailboxes will just fill up to the limit with spam. This way we have a heartbeat, we know someone is actually using that email address.

Question – If they’re near capacity, won’t the warning message get kicked back?

Michael Gettes – We’ll do a forced delivery.

Heather – DukeMail users will be able to increase their quota up to 2 GB, but only as they need additional space.  Each time they run out, they’ll be able to increase their quota by a sizable increment, but they won’t be able to just set it at 2 GB.

Question – Doesn’t that make it possible that some important email could be lost if someone gets a large document that sends them over their capacity?

Heather – Because of the warnings we think that will happen very infrequently.  However, we have given the help desk staff the ability to raise limits ahead of time if someone knows a large document will soon be sent.

IV. Student observations and issues - Elliott Wolf

Elliott Wolf – Students have asked for a higher email quota. They do not know that they can raise their quota. They think they have only 100 MB.  Heather’s announcement is good news. Students need more information about tech services because they don’t always know what’s available.

Another issue is wireless coverage.

Kevin Miller – New coverage is available in K-ville and Duke Gardens.

Elliott – That’s good. We have gotten complaints in the past about wireless coverage in K-ville. Also in the residential halls, there’s coverage in common rooms and immediately adjacent, but many areas of the residential halls aren’t covered.

Question – Have residents of Bell Tower given a positive response to wireless coverage there?

Elliott – Students generally view wireless as something that should be everywhere, so it’s only a problem when it’s not there. The next issue is cell phone coverage isn’t good in buildings. Students can just go outside their dorms to make calls if they need to so that’s not so much of an issue. The bigger issue is in academic and common buildings like the Bryan Center.

Tracy Futhey – We are slowly expanding coverage into other buildings.

[Discussion about where repeaters were located. Current repeaters only help people with Verizon or Alltel, and not customers with a GSM service.  Robert Wolpert raised the point that those who need to use their cell phones when traveling internationally have to use GSM, so that's a big portion of people who aren't helped at all. Further discussion on expanding coverage vs. expanding carriers featured on the system.]

Elliott – Kiosks. We’re working with Kevin Davis; perhaps we could put some in the West Union or other locations. The next thing is cable TV. A number of students have asked us about the channel lineup. People wanted to watch the Tour de France on OLN, some want to watch the BBC. Changing the lineup seems easy from the students’ perspective. I don’t know how the contracts work. The second thing is, the signal quality isn’t so good. The third thing is, it’s ridiculously expensive. One thing I’ve talked with students about is the possibility of sharing the cost among all undergrads, if a fee could be assessed to all undergrads. I think students would be very receptive to collectivizing the cable fee. People now don’t get cable and there are different things that suffer because of that. No one buys cable, no one has a TV in their room, so we have Cable 13 where people are working on producing shows that no one watches. Also HDTV, people have plasma TVs and they can’t get HDTV.

Kyle Johnson – We can’t get HDTV anywhere. Current cable is unusable on a larger display because it looks bad.

Elliott – I talked with Tallman [Trask] about whatever’s in Bell Tower putting that in other places on campus.

John Board – We know about the cable. I don’t know exactly what the official words that were used in the strategic plan, but improving cable services is in our plan.

Robert Wolpert – The technology is changing so much now.

Tracy Futhey – The question is, how much do we invest in the old technology. Or do we invest in the new technology before it’s really ready?

Kyle – You say students have said they all would chip in. When we’ve asked this in the past we’ve heard the opposite. They don’t want to pay for it. They say, “I want the cheapest rate possible, but if I don’t want it I don’t want to pay for it at all.”

Elliott – I’m paying $5,850 to live in a double on West Campus. I would turn it back to Res Life and say they should find a way to work it out.

John – So the action is, how do we get student involvement? Everyone knows our current system has to go, but do we invest in IPTV? When will we be comfortable doing this? Also, we need to find a way to get students involved in the discussion. The big users are the medical center and students. If it were of better quality, would people use it?

Robert Wolpert – Right now the cable system is at its maximum capacity so there’s no extra channel to put OLN on.

Elliott – It’s not just that, students want to be involved. Maybe have the campus council or some other group decide at the beginning of the year which channels we want.

Elliott – The next thing is video on demand over the Internet. Julian [Lombardi] and some DSG people talked about it. Right now the copyright seems to interfere with everything good that’s trying to be accomplished. But at the same time we’re looking at a lot of services that are third-party services provided over the Internet and at least to us, they seem to be pretty promising. We’re not impressed with how much content they’re offering but I think if we get on the ground floor they might increase their offerings. I think they may be able to increase services. I’ve talked with Tracy about some things. Right now Ruckus looks good.  It uses the Windows media player DRM, but it’s a free service that’s already integrated into the Triangle background that could be brought to campus. Just like the iPod project, Duke is in a position to maybe do something innovative. Now the big thing is television. Maybe we could forge a relationship with a company like we did with Apple to get us some publicity and give us something for the students. We think the students might be willing to pay a fee, but we haven’t ascertained how much would be acceptable. Ten dollars for an undergrad is a lot. But we do like television. We’re television watchers. We want entertainment content. And at the same time we’re struggling with issues of self-segregation. We’re chilling out in our dorm rooms. Do you guys have any strategic plan on that?

Tracy – We’ve talked over the years with different companies. To-date it hasn’t been obvious that anybody has a business model with what we want. I would not say we have any set plan or strategy so much as watching what’s out there and seeing what’s decent and listening to other campuses. Pretty much all my peers at other places that have tried these things say they don’t work. Duke tried CFlix. How much effort do we put in to go with someone who might not make us happy? The Ruckus people sent us names of places where they think it’s going well, but we need to get with the IT people there and ask if it really is going well.

Elliott – The next thing is the policy for undergrads on computer use that’s in the undergrad bulletin. There was a four-word addition to the new computer use policy that raised my eyebrow. Last year’s computer use policy said an undergraduate cannot “make or use illegal copies of copyrighted software, store such copies on university systems, or transmit them over university networks.” This year the policy says, “make or use illegal copies of software ‘or other copyrighted works,’ store such copies ….” Those four words are what concern me because that was not there before.

Kyle – That is a change, but the overarching statement is, no illegal activities are allowed.

[Short discussion about who wrote this policy, Student Affairs seems to have changed it. Needs follow-up]

Elliott – One more thing: the polling system. DSG is very interested in what students think and we don’t think the current survey tool allows us to do what we’re trying to do.

Tracy - It's a powerful tool, but a lot of overhead for quick surveys.

Mike Pickett – You might take a look at the polling capabilities on DevilTalk on DukePass.

Elliott – We’re also working on a department and administration guide for students because students don’t understand who does what and whom to go to if they have a problem. It’s kind of interesting for the undergrads because Student Affairs bills itself as the point person for everything. A lot of undergrads don’t know who Kemel and Tallman are.

So two big things, looking at IT’s facilitation of the university’s overall mission – education, collaboration and all that good stuff. Two big things I would like to emphasize: one is the idea of the information commons which we’ve been talking about in DSG. Students need to be able to send files to each other. Now they do it by email. That’s not the best way to do it – people get different versions depending on what email system they’re using. There’s no tool to do it, but people need to be able to share information. Regardless of the actual solution, students need to be able to send files to each other.

The last thing is the calendar, which I have been working on. We oversee student groups and student events. Duke spends almost $2 billion a year doing everything Duke does. Given all the things going on, it still goes through the filter of what people know is going on. Lots of money is spent on things, but people don’t know what’s happening. That has wide-ranging consequences in collaboration and allocation of resources. Also, students don’t know what’s scheduled on the weekends, so they go to parties. They go where they know what’s going on.

John – Most years we’re happy with who the undergrad representatives are. We’ve had several people express eagerness to do this.

Elliott – The plan is to appoint someone who has expressed eagerness and one who has little IT background.

Robert Wolpert – Dukepass, do students use it?

Elliott – Students who park use it. Mainly if there’s a single website people go to every day, the Chronicle is a big one. DukePass is usually for people who have parking passes. I don’t use it. And I can’t quantify how many people do.

Robert – There’s an effort going on to pull together collaborative software. Do you know if you or one of the other IT-savvy DSG students are involved with that?

Elliott – Not that I’m sure of.

John – We do have an effort under way to identify collaboration tools.

V. BrassRing, New Applicant Tracking Demo -- Todd Orr and Ned Neeley

Todd Orr – Resumix is dead. I came here in February and talked about the iForms project. We had rolled out HR payroll transactions, cost distribution changes, personal data changes. Then hires for faculty and students and position management were rolled out. They automatically update SAP. The last step was to facilitate the hire/transfer process for exempt and nonexempt employees that go through the hiring process. It’s an ASP model, a vendor hosts it. It’s through BrassRing that applicants apply. Hiring managers go in and select the applicants. By way of volume, 36,000 payroll transactions have occurred since 2005, and a couple thousand position management transactions.
The conversion went great – lots of user training and questions. It’s been live for four days. After the dust settles we will have a couple more things, supplemental pay changes and leave of absence, to take care of. Down the road we’re looking at doing a similar thing from the employee perspective. These ideas have been initiated by HR reps in departments or hiring managers.

Ned Neeley – The health system and university people all over helped with job descriptions. It used to take 48 hours to get a job posted. Now you can put a position in and it’ll let you bring up the position and you can edit and select the job. [Ned gives a demonstration of how the website works] In the old system you had to enter all this stuff. Now you can just pick the hiring manager. The position description information is loaded on the website. You can just edit it. You can put departmental job descriptions in and save them for future use. Some departments don’t have job descriptions because they’re all different. But some can just edit and post. Now you can post a job in about 30 minutes. You also can add preferences the recruiter sees but that don’t get posted for the public.

John – Can anyone be given authority to use this? For instance, I’m not a hiring manager, but I occasionally hire faculty.

Ned – Yes.

Ned – [continues demonstration] You can see there are three gateways on the website to apply for jobs: External candidates, Duke employees and Nursing. For Duke employees, information just gets filled in. Nursing used to have a standalone site where they were maintaining all the job descriptions. We worked closely with them to consolidate.

Michael Gettes – When I find a job, can I share that with someone else? Can I send them the URL?

Ned – Yes, there’s a button to click. It’s very simple.

Kyle Johnson – When you say the resume has been looked over by the recruiter, is there a way to bypass that?

Ned – Yes, you set that up in the beginning, how involved the recruiter is.

Todd – Also, you won’t see any more weird characters on the resumes. You can see the resume as it’s written.

Ned – It’s really an improvement from the candidate’s perspective and from the hiring manager’s. I still have to go through the candidates and choose the right one. You can select all your candidates and quickly view them and just toggle through.

Kyle – We sometimes have search committees. Can we now have multiple people who can look through resumes through BrassRing.

Ned – Yes

Kyle – What’s the plan for training?

Todd – It’s been announced and we’ve been training. We’ve had a number of large group trainings, done end-to-end process. In prior iForms rollouts, only about 25 percent of users came. We’ve pushed hard to get people to come to these. We’ve had good turnout. We’re closing in on 500 people.

Ned – For casual users, who use it only every six months, it’s takes a bit to learn it. Once they understand what they’re doing, it’s not that difficult.

Todd – Up to this point the reaction’s been pretty good. We’ve only been live for four days on the hiring phase so the jury’s still out.

John – If someone applies to me but they’re a perfect match for a job Heather has open right now, is there a way to shift those resumes back and forth.

Ned – That’s handled by the recruiter. There are forms and notes you can add. But you can’t reroute it.

Todd – You get into iForms through Webauth. If go into BrassRing there’s no separate login.

Ned – You just need your NetID. One of the big challenges for our users is, do they know their NetID and password. The hiring manager selects a candidate, passes it to SAP, who sends it to HR. If a person doesn’t have a unique ID, one is created instantly and they’re in the HR system.

John – This is great news. We’ve waited a long time to get rid of Resumix.

Tracy – Just to clarify, the work has been around the tools and the work flow, not just plugging a new tool into the same work flow.
Todd – Yes.

VI. Network Flow Analysis – Top Incoming and Outgoing Traffic -- Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller – Duke's external network connectivity is undergoing many changes, and negotiations are continuing so there may be more changes in the future. Today all of our traffic uses NCREN, where it connects to the Commodity Internet, Internet2 Abilene, Time Warner Cable, other NC schools, and a few other places. In June, a new connection to NLR PacketNet went live. Now we’re using NLR and Internet2 Abilene through NCREN. [Kevin shows graphs and a gives a presentation about NCREN and network connectivity]. Off campus, the Duke IMAP server sends more data to Time Warner Cable than other commodity providers.

Tracy – So the majority of our email traffic is to ourselves and in our community.

Kevin – Yes.

Kevin – NCREN is reconsidering the second provider; today it's Qwest but bandwidth prices have fallen a lot and there are competitors. The net result of all of these changes and discussions is going to be more bandwidth for everyone at Duke at a lower cost.

John – We’re showing a direct connection to the NLR and NCREN.

Kevin – The three universities [Duke, NCSU, UNC-CH] are planning to obtain direct connections to NLR while maintaining NLR connectivity to NCREN as a whole.

Michael Gettes – More bandwidth, cheaper, but that doesn’t take away the fact that we have to be looking at things like news [that take up a lot of bandwidth].

Kevin – We have to get an understanding of what some of the bigger users are. The Linux@Duke mirrors use a lot of bandwidth, for example.

Tracy – Absent whatever we might do with this, the fact that we have these tools gives us important information that we may want to do something with.

End time : 5:30