Duke ITAC - March 30, 2006 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - March 30, 2006 Minutes


March 30, 2006

Members present : John Board, Shailesh Chandrasekharan, Dick Danner represented by Ken Hirsch, Nevin Fouts represented by Kevin Smith, Tracy Futhey, Christopher Gelpi, Michael Gettes, Daron Gunn, Deborah Jakubs, David Jamieson-Drake represented by Bob Newlin, Julian Lombardi, Roger Loyd, Joseph Meyerowitz, Kyle Johnson, George Oberlander, Lynne O’Brien represented by Jim Coble, Rafael Rodriquez, Molly Tamarkin, Christopher Timmins, Trey Turner III, Robert Wolpert

Guests: Kevin Davis, OIT; Jim Rigney, Computer Store; Kevin Miller, OIT

Start time : 4:34 PM


I. Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • Tracy Futhey says IT strategic planning continues, and there is now a draft of the full university plan that is being passed around and edited. It will be reviewed in a couple of weeks by the steering committee. The full IT plan will probably circulate to people in the next week. By the time we meet next, I will have circulated to you something that represents the final plan.

II. Upgrading the core network – Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller says as some of you may be aware, we’ve been working across the campus for over a year to understand what the current core network looks like and what departmental needs are. In the last few months that information has coalesced into designs and technical requirements to use to talk to vendors about upgrading the core network. We have two vendors on the short list, Cisco and Foundry Networks. We will be bringing them in house in the next few months. We are working with UNC Chapel Hill to evaluate core network equipment across the NCREN infrastructure. We’re looking at a 20 GB/sec ring that would touch five-to-six key sites including Telcom. One of main goals of upgrading the core network is reliability: our intent is that anything connected to it will be dually connected.

One of the key technologies we are looking at using is MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching). This is a technology between the ethernet and IP layers that allows us to create networks that are private but can span the entire campus.

We hope to bring the upgraded core live in late August or September. We do not intend to have a cutover at a specific point in time, but will bring up the new core and migrate networks over time. We estimate that it will be an 18-20 month process by the time it’s all done.

John Board asks how are you keeping in touch with other schools within Duke about this?

Kevin Miller says as the technical capabilities come to fruition we will definitely be reaching out and working on a case-by-base basis to see how to best transfer them to the new infrastructure.

Tracy Futhey asks will MPLS help with the university researcher/medical school issues we have heard about?

Kevin Miller says I would anticipate that it would give us some additional flexibility.

Robert Wolpert says every now and then there are ditches dug on campus for various reasons, the expensive part of running cable is digging ditches. Is there any way to coordinate that with other people digging ditches?

Kevin says we have done some of that, and I think that it is an excellent idea. The key is finding out when someone is planning on having a ditch made.

III. Technology Advantage Program (TAP) roundtable – Daron Gunn, Jim Rigney, Kevin Davis

Jim Rigney says we’ve done very well with Dell computers. Apple has been a challenge because they are still transitioning their product lines. This year we are going to offer three configurations: a high performance, mainstream, and budget version.

George Oberlander asks do these all have 4-year warranties?

Jim Rigney says Lenovo and Dell do. Apple doesn’t offer warranties, we’re still working with them on that.

Kevin Davis says you have to remember, there are going to be some parents who see a $300 computer at Wal-Mart and see that as desirable. We really need to convince people of the value of TAP and having institutional support.

One question that has come up around computer ownership is how many students have computers. We don’t have good data on computers purchased or how many students have computers. One thing we do have data on is how many students have network registrations. Just over 99 percent of freshman and sophomores and about 99 percent juniors have network registrations. For seniors it’s around 88 percent, but many of them live off campus.

Daron Gunn says over last two weeks I put together a survey of students about their perception of TAP. 381 people took survey equally distributed among the four academic years. Striking: only 21% of the total respondents knew what the TAP program was. It was encouraging that 50% of freshman know of TAP.

What they are looking for in computers: durability and processor speed are two things people are looking at, though I was surprised that size of the machine was not what they were looking at. Comments I hear from a lot of people is that their computer is large, which is a downside to higher performance.

Standard configuration versus “build your own”: more people said they’d like to build their own computer. One thing I got out of this: if you look at TAP configurations, i.e. something that will be good for 4 years, wouldn’t it behoove us to allow them to select and upgrade certain options?

Throughout their four years at Duke, do people own more than one computer? About a third said yes. Close to half of seniors had more than one computer.

Shailesh Chandrasekharan asks where does a new student hear about TAP?

Kevin Davis says there is booklet for new students that includes information about TAP. I think we need a unified message that they should buy a computer for Duke for these reasons to get them to think about things people don’t think about when buying a computer for students. People have to think in terms of damage, stress and wear.

Jim Rigney says the catalog we send is sent to the parents of the student.

John Board asks how does preferential service factor into the message?

Kevin Davis says it’s exactly like trying to sell any product focused on risk, don’t realize the value until you need it.

Robert Wolpert asks in the letter do you indicate what fraction of students do need service for computers? Because if you don’t, it would probably be good to include this.

Daron Gunn says the most difficult thing for freshman is that they have never been on campus, and they don’t understand what issues they might run into, such as how much walking around campus they’ll do.

Molly Tamarkin said when you asked students if knew what it was, did you spell out TAP?

Daron says yes.

Kyle Johnson says if parents get the TAP info, maybe students don’t know that they have a TAP computer.

Jim Rigney says I agree, the marketing is geared to parents.

George Oberlander says maybe students would influence the decision of where they buy their computer if they knew more about it.

IV. ePrint statistics and policy discussion - Daron Gunn, Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis says ePrint is widely credited for reducing waste from excess printouts, but probably we have made ePrint so easy to use that it has facilitated greater printing. Between the first and second year of ePrint, usage rose 50%. Last year we saw a 25% increase, and we are planning for a 15% increase next year. Student printing is a one-tailed distribution: the average student uses 1350 pages per year, and the top tail is very large. That ends up with ¼ of students taking up half of laser printing. There are two sides to the ePrint picture: students who use it for general academics, and why some students are doing so much printing.

Daron Gunn says in the survey, we asked to see how many times students use ePrint. Many responded that they use it one or more times in a day. Next question: does ePrint meet your expectations and needs? 28% said no. We left an open-ended question for students to respond with comments. Common things I found were that in dorms, especially East Campus dorms, printers weren’t functioning. I broke it down by class: 10% of seniors did not feel that their needs were not being met, while 30% of freshman felt like their needs were not being met, so maybe East Campus needs more attention.

Kevin Davis says one thing I would throw in is on East Campus, we have had a philosophy where we would have more single printers in more dorms. This is maybe an indication that we need to have more printers in one location so have we have a fall-back.

Other question: are ePrint stations normally functioning? About a quarter of respondents said no. One comment we repeatedly saw was if an ePrint station was broken at night, it would not be fixed until the next business day.

Kevin Davis says we have been experiencing this. We have so much usage in overnight hours, and it’s a challenge to address that particular issue.

Deborah Jakubs says do you think the library being open 24 hrs will help?

Joseph Meyerowitz says it won’t help freshman, because buses don’t run after 2am and you can’t get into other dorms to use their ePrint stations.

Daron Gunn says our next question was do you feel students abuse ePrint? A surprising number, near 40%, said yes. We also asked if they have to wait to use ePrint, and about 30% said they do have to wait in line. So, it does suggest students feel that others are overusing ePrint.

Julian Lombardi asks what is the max number of pages printed by a student?

Kevin Davis says the top printer was 72,000 pages; second place was around 62,000.

Julian asks do we cap? What are our strategies?

Kevin Davis says a cap is one approach. Table 3 [on handout] compares policies on printing at peer institutions.

Tracy Futhey asks did you correlate to see if people who had to wait for printing were people who were unhappy?

Daron Gunn says I didn’t correlate for that, but I can check. One interesting note: in the survey I asked how many pages do you think you print in a semester? I took those numbers and averaged them. The average from my sample was 823 pages, compared to an actual average of 1,350. Part of it may be that students don’t realize how many pages they are printing. One idea in is to maybe just educate students on how many pages are printing. They may take the initiative themselves to decrease usage.

George Oberlander says we don’t know anything about what “abusers” are actually doing. What are they printing?

Kevin Davis says it’s hard to know. Last fall we sent a survey targeted at the top 10% of printers and the lowest 10%. They’re all at about the same level for term papers, etc. When ask about students themselves, 100% of top 5% were presidents or leaders of student groups, versus 19% were officers of some kind in a student group in lowest usage group.

Daron Gunn says there is also a lot of talk about double-sided printing. I asked if people ever print on both sides of the paper. 73% of people said yes. I expected that number to be lower. This tells me that people know how to change these settings if they want to.

Kevin Davis says 1 of every 8 printing jobs are printed duplex. There is a lot of interest in duplex printing for course packs and articles because they have to carry that paper around. We asked students what it would take to get them printing less. The big thing was making it possible to submit papers to professors online, which really just shifts the printing. Students also mentioned making duplex printing easier or default and using more tablet PCs and ebooks. Those who said they favored ebooks were among the lowest printers.

Daron Gunn says we also asked students if they want duplex as the default. The response was divided 50-50.

Shailesh Chandrasekharan says you mentioned, some students have to get in line; do you have any idea how many students use a particular printer?

Kevin Davis says we haven’t looked at it that way, but we have looked at what are the hot spots for printing and have put multiple printers and our fastest printers there.

Robert Wolpert says seems like many of the high-volume users aren’t “abusing” ePrint as much as using it for legitimate student uses. The serious problem is students finding printers out or unavailable. One possibility is to try to recruit high-volume jobs elsewhere.

Daron Gunn says that’s why I think it’s a good idea to put 2-3 printers for high-volume printing, so if you have job that is 200 pages, the only place that it will print it is the high-volume printer in versus a dorm printer.

V. Collaboration space demo (e.g. Basecamp HQ) – Daron Gunn

Daron Gunn says a lot of active groups on campus are using email groups as a way to follow up on meetings. One of things I use is through a company called Basecamp HQ. This tool allows you to add people to a site. You can send messages to the group and it logs the messages online. You can also make to-do lists and assign specific tasks that other group members can check out. Another feature we were looking for that we found in Basecamp HQ is a calendar. It adds a two-week outlook in calendar form with milestones to be done that users can check off. You can also upload documents that are easily accessible.

John Board asks is this freeware?

Kyle Johnson says it’s a hosted solution. It’s free if you have less than three projects. I have 12, and it’s about $15 per month.

Daron Gunn says another tool student groups have been using is a wiki. The Duke Smarthouse uses this routinely for keeping track of meeting notes. It has many things similar to Basecamp. One complaint I hear is there is no accountability, so it is left up to involved students to continue to drive things, whereas group leaders can pull people in with the other model.

Another online tool: there is a form OSAF worked up in the last year for student groups that is a “space request form.” There were complaints last year that if a group wanted to reserve room for a meeting, it would take a lot of effort. Groups like OSAF are starting to do that online. It saves students a tremendous amount of time.

John Board says what are other players like the wiki? Is there something beyond the normal wiki that also has elements of Microsoft project?

Molly Tamarkin says some that come to mind are Droople, Clone and JotSpot.

Joseph Meyerowitz says I’ve worked with Droople before, and it’s very easy to customize on the backend. Another thing I’ve worked with is Track, primarily designed for software usage. I ended up using it to upload legal documents like charters. Every time it got edited, the relevant people were notified.

Daron Gunn says in the long run I could see one of these models developed for Duke. That would make it possible for person taking over several years after I’m gone to look at it and see, for example, how much an event cost.

John Board says institutional memory loss is a bane of student organizations, and I think a proposal for something like this coming from students would be welcome.

Tracy says what we heard are things that are out there, that people can use, that don’t require support. Would it be useful if we had a space/area that was contributed ideas and hints so that even if we don’t support a tool, those of you who come across a tool can write about it and create a general electronic dialogue?

Daron Gunn says I think that’s a great starting point. The advantage of having a product institutionalized would be carryover from year to year.

VI. Other Business


End time : 5:26 PM