Duke ITAC - March 26, 2009 Minutes

Duke ITAC - March 26, 2009 Minutes

ITAC Agenda
March 26, 2009 4:00-5:30
RENCI Engagement Center

  • Announcements & Meeting Minutes
  • Link Assessment Report Update (Ed Gomes, Debbie DeYulia, Samantha Earp, Yvonne Belanger)
  • IPTV Demonstration and Update (Angel Wingate, Bob Johnson, Johnny Bell)
  • Summary of External Security Reviews (John Board)

Announcements & Meeting Minutes

Terry Oas opened by asking ITAC members present at the March 12, 2009 meeting if they had comments on the minutes. Noting no objections, Terry accepted the minutes and stated that they would be posted on the ITAC web site.

Tracy Futhey announced that the University IT Security Officer position has been filled by Paul Horner, who has been with Duke for a few years.  Paul has worked for Internal Audit and has good knowledge of security risk assessment and exposure, Tracy said.  In addition, his familiarity with both the university and the Health System will be very beneficial.  Paul will start the week of March 30.  He recently presented to ITAC on the security vulnerability project, she said.

Tracy mentioned that Kathy Pfeiffer and some colleagues are visiting with Oracle’s Higher Education users group.  They are putting together teams to address specific issues raised in the last few months.  Oracle may have a team visit Duke in April.

Tracy announced that a few weeks ago Duke released a mobile application for iPhone.  In addition, we expect to release mobile applications for other platforms in the coming weeks.  John Board added that the application was the top download in the iTunes education section for a while.

Kevin Davis mentioned that the annual ITAC membership recommendation process is beginning.  Kevin asked ITAC members to recommend faculty with an affinity for technology to itac-steering@duke.edu. Terry added that the steering team would ideally like to have increased representation from some more traditionally “non-IT” areas.  Faculty members in these areas would likely bring new perspectives for how to examine technology issues.

Kevin also introduced Ali Saaem as a new GPSC ITAC representative.  Ali is GPSC’s university affairs coordinator.

Link Assessment Report Update (Ed Gomes, Debbie DeYulia, Samantha Earp, Yvonne Belanger)

Ed Gomes said the first six to months in the Link (http://link.duke.edu) have been a learning experience.  Ed said his team recently submitted a report that will be linked publicly. 

The Link, originally called the Teaching and Learning Center, is a space that was renovated and outfitted for a fall 2008 opening.  The objective of the Link was to better integrate technology with the teaching and learning process.  Some of the original goals for the Link were to create a flexible, interdisciplinary learning environment; to promote collaborative, authentic, project-based learning; to support intensive and interactive technology use; and to support the complete learning process, within and beyond class time.  Ed said this included learning how to use those technologies within the Link, but also in other places, such as the Library and in other classroom spaces at Duke.

Ed said a near-term goal was to do an assessment of the Link soon after it opened. A group of faculty and staff was assembled to perform this assessment based on surveys and service records.

He said the Link assessment aimed to address five categories: confirm the space planning principles; evaluate the service model, staffing, and equipment at the Service Desk; assess policies developed by the Core Planning Group and Service Team; capture examples of innovative teaching and collaborative, authentic learning experiences; and determine the operational costs associated with managing services, technology and facilities in the Link.  OIT, A&S, and CIT meet bi-weekly to discuss the use of space within the Link.

Ed said that the report findings were based on several sources of data.  These sources included group observations, survey responses, faculty and staff interviews, and operational records reviews.

Ed described some of the elements the report identified as successful:

  • Architectural Design – Students and faculty both like the openness of the Link, despite its location in the basement.  In addition, students like the modern design.
  • Location – Having the Link located centrally located on West Campus in the library has been very beneficial.  In addition, the co-location within the library allows students and faculty quick access to librarians; furthermore, librarians have sat in on some class sessions meeting there to better understand course pedagogy and needs.
  • Co-locating formal and informal spaces – Respondents like being able to “spill over” into an informal space immediately after a class.  In addition, students take advantage of meeting in group rooms immediately after a class.
  • Convenient access to technology support – Stakeholders really likes having support staff immediately outside of the classrooms.  In addition, staff’s ability to assist with classroom setup in advance of class.  Students also enjoy taking advantage of easy access to tech support staff.

Yvonne Belanger gave the committee a look at the layout of the Link.  She mentioned that no two classrooms are identical in layout or technology.  The goal was to keep the design flexible enough to be able to change; moreover, the design was to have a diverse use of space to try a many different combinations and have the experiences drive future decision about space usage, she said. 

Yvonne added that not all classroom spaces have a computer in the classroom.  Faculty provided feedback that they were more likely to use audio visual aids if the classroom already came in the room.  Terry asked if Classroom 2 had any integrated technology.  Yvonne stated that it has jacks in the wall and a ceiling projector.  The group-study rooms have LCD displays to support the real-time streaming video system.  Not every group study room has LCD panels. 

Yvonne said some rooms have document cameras and added that people can get document cameras from the Service Desk, but that is not always clear to faculty.  All classroom spaces have some display control, but only select rooms have portable control units, she said.  In addition, there are two ePrint stations in the Link with four available printers.  Yvonne added that those printers are very heavily used.

Yvonne said the Link desk has an inventory of two tablet PC carts with a total of 40 machines.  There is also a cart with MacBook Pros that was more frequently used in the first semester. The two tablet PC carts were not heavily used.  Their area also has PRS (personal response system) and DDI loaner equipment. Yvonne said that faculty checked out DDI equipment for in class use. 

Yvonne added that the real-time streaming video system is installed in classroom 3 and the adjoining group study areas.  Ed said that the real-time streaming video system was designed to allow instructors to simultaneously project up to four different images from up to four different inputs.  In addition, those images - and associated audio – were designed to be sent to a permanent storage location. 

Ed said that while the real-time streaming video system worked overall, there were numerous challenges getting the quad-view technology to work as designed.  Ed mentioned that he has another call scheduled with the vendor and the local installation integrator to address this.  Ed mentioned that the issues have been primarily about the design of the system rather than the implementation.  Ed said that this is a widely used application, but it had never been implemented the way Duke wanted to use it. 

Terry asked what the cost was to implement this solution.  Ed said that he would need to investigate to find the real-time streaming video system’s specific costs, but that the Link’s overall audiovisual project costs were around $1 million. 

Ali Saaem asked what the functional need was for this real-time streaming system.  Ed said that there was no specific need addressed, but rather a component of the Link’s overall role as an experimental space.  The goal was to provide faculty a way to capture content in innovative ways.  Yvonne added that some courses were designed to capitalize on the planned design. 

Ali asked if there had been an increased interest in these types of applications.  Ed mentioned that the difficulties with the system have restrained marketing and outreach efforts.  Samantha Earp added that the Link was designed as a way of exploring new technologies and their application.  Terry suggested that the cost may affect future decisions about how to move forward with the real-time streaming video system implementation. 

Dave Richardson suggested that the group may want to reach out to faculty at this point and seek out potentially different uses for the technology.  Ed said the group reached out to faculty in their report and asked them what they wanted to do, not necessarily what they thought the technology might limit them to. 

Alvy Lebeck inquired further about the real-time streaming video system issues.  Ed said the choice of equipment and their designed use may not have been ideally suited to the specifications.  The tight timeframe to open by August further complicated the deployment by minimizing available time to test.

John Board mentioned that he uses the Service Desk in the Link frequently.  He asked how the joint distributed management of staff has worked.  Ed said that there have been successes and setbacks.  One of the areas that can improve is the seamless hand-offs between OIT and A&S staff who have traditionally had different job responsibilities. 

John then asked who decides if the intense technology investment will be sustainable or wanted in the long-term.  Ed stated that he would collaborate with the Link’s stakeholders to make those decisions. 

Tracy asked if there was a sense of what kinds of questions the Service Desk handles.  Yvonne said that the surveys were geared to gauge overall usefulness of the space.  Debbie DeYulia mentioned that the Service Desk captures data on the types of requests the Link receives.  From OIT’s perspective, there has been an increase in the number of computers dropped off at the Service Desk, she said.  The Link has had an increase of 15-20% in traffic over the Bryan Center from last year.  Debbie said that A&S staff has historically helped customers without recording that in a system of record.  She added that A&S staff has recently started tracking those requests as part of the effort to make service more seamless and to more accurately track utilization.

Robert Wolpert asked what the source of the increase in support requests might be.  Ed suspected that the location is the largest driver of growth.  Terry asked if the increased workload has been accompanied by increased staffing at OIT.  Debbie mentioned that the Link introduced expanded hours, which added a new position from 3:00 to midnight.  There are two additional full time employees in the evening in addition to 3-4 students.  Yvonne added that OIT’s expanded hours have been welcomed by the library staff since they were the de facto support staff previously. 

Robert asked if the Link staff was technical or just reporting requests for the morning.  Debbie said the staff are technical and handle most routine requests.  Susan Gerbeth-Jones asked if Remedy tickets are created for all the visitors.  Debbie mentioned that OIT staff has always used Remedy and that A&S staff is just beginning to.

Andrew Tutt said that his classroom did not have electrical outlets in the floor.  Ed confirmed that the classrooms have power outlets around the edges but not in the middle.  Yvonne added that implementing extension cords in some rooms may introduce a tripping hazard. 

Andrew noted that though you can write on the walls, there are no markers.  Ed said the Service Desk has markers available on request.

Andrew wanted to know how organic feedback was collected.  Ed suggested that the Link web site has feedback mechanisms.  Samantha E. stated that CIT staff has worked closely with faculty and received good feedback.  Ed added that the Link Service Team considers feedback from many perspectives, not just the website submittals. 

Dave R. complimented the Service Desk on being very responsive to a high demand event in classroom 5 that put high demands on the wireless network.  Dave said the Service Desk made the experience easier and the event was very successful.  Tracy added that the opening of the Link followed on the heels of Duke’s 802.11n deployment.

John Aldrich asked if a class in Stanford could videoconference with a class in the Link.  Julian Lombardi said that in the first semester he taught a class with a university in China.  He described the experience as having the Chinese counterparts as an extension of the room.  Ed added that there is currently a similar course with UNC sharing audio and video.

Ed stated that one future goal is to prioritize the academic use of the space.  Academic usage is felt to be the deserving primary usage.  In addition, the infrastructure needs to support the high-end technology needs in the rooms.  Ed added that improved communications and outreach; for example, the team should advertise the web site better.  Yvonne mentioned that some of the feedback received was for services that were already offered which underscore the need for better communications.  Ed added that space request and enforcement needs to be examined.  Ed mentioned that space reservation is a challenge because sometimes people fill the empty room and then the requesters arrive and are uncomfortable asking people to leave.

IPTV Demonstration and Update (Angel Wingate, Bob Johnson, Johnny Bell)

Angel Wingate said that there is an analog-based cable infrastructure today.  This system supports approximately 60 channels.  Angel stated that OIT offers three tiers of service today.  OIT is able to provide a basic level of service for free today.  Angel said these services are provided to students, the hospital, and the two campus hotels.

Bob Johnson explained an IPTV system diagram distributed at the beginning of the committee meeting. Duke currently receives content both over-the-air and from paid provider, similar to residential broadband users.  IPTV moves broadcast television from the analog network to the IP network, thus helping Duke further capitalize on its recent network investment.  Two advantages to this configuration are the ease of adding providers, effectively any source for which Duke has or obtains rights, and facilitating channel lineup.  Configuration and management is much easier in the IPTV arena.  

Bob stated that this implementation uses multicasting, which will allow multiple users to share common data streams (i.e., the broadcast of a station or program), that is, not every individual user need have a unique broadcast streamed at all times. This will result in much more effective network utilization. Bob mentioned that in the current on-campus pilot of about 25 channels, users pull the content they want and view it without any residual content left when they disconnect.  It is much easier and cheaper to set up than previous implementations, which required cable runs to each individual station.  The technology has been available for a number of years.

Johnny Bell provided a demonstration of the IPTV software by showing a free over-the-air broadcast.  Tracy asked if the technology would support HD transmission.  Johnny said that if the channel was HD-capable, it could be delivered in that format; he demonstrated an HDTV channel via IPTV.  

Robert W. mentioned that he would like to see a wider range of foreign channels available in the future.  Bob mentioned that that is more of a business model question of covering the cost of that content. Today’s model is primarily subscription based and that the content aggregators are reviewing their business models to catch up to IP.  Bob stated Duke would continue to work with content providers to highlight some of the different use cases.  Tracy said that IPTV technology has been vetted but the business model for the specific content still needs to be worked out.   

Robert speculated that the HD demand will likely be enormous.  He suggested that network performance might be impacted when 60 people stream HD content on a single wireless access point.  Dave R. asked about the direction and needs for wired and wireless in the future.  Bob responded that network device density would be a constraint on the network, but Duke would have the ability to limit the bandwidth on each wireless access point.  Dave asked if the stream would only go to the access point for the user that requested it.  Bob confirmed that by controlling the associations, Duke could manage the impact of the streams.

Roger Lloyd asked about an away Duke basketball game and the impact of 10,000 people wanting to view that content simultaneously.  Tracy said that 10,000 people watching the same thing is not an issue as much as 10,000 people wanting to watch 10,000 different things.  

Kevin D. asked about other campuses approach to sell set-top boxes.  Johnny demonstrated that he was using a DVI cable connected to a VGA cable, effectively making the computer a “set-top box”.   Andrew T. asked if going directly to a TV could be done via the cable.  Johnny stated that the system will support both 720 and 1080 as well as newer televisions that support direct cable inputs.

Susan asked if projectors would be able to show this quality.  Johnny responded that many projectors might only handle 720p.  Susan suggested that new projectors should be considered.  Ali asked if there was a list of equipment that was needed.  John B. said that the list is constantly evolving.  Wayne Miller asked if the plan was to retire coax.  John B. suggested that it might not be financially feasible to pull it out.  Alvy said that the coax network might be made available to students to make a use of it.  Tracy said that would require maintaining two different sets of infrastructure.

Terry asked if there was a timeline for policy decisions.  Tracy said that OIT and Student Affairs have communicated about IPTV regularly.  

Alvy asked if IPTV would work over VPN.  Johnny stated that it would not.


Summary of External Security Reviews (John Board)

John B. noted that Duke commissioned three external IT security reviews.  John mentioned that this was part of the review process as Duke looked to fill its new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position.  The new CISO will evolve into a role to manage the portfolio of IT risks, rather than the traditional incident response role.  The CISO will have responsibility for overall institution IT security.

The reviews previously presented at ITAC were from Oracle and Illumant.  Billy Herndon presented at a previous ITAC meeting on the Oracle review of enterprise systems.   Illumant was charged with looking at the state of security for Duke’s distributed IT units.  A third external review was from Indiana University charged with an overall review of Duke’s information security.  Duke’s objectives differed from typical security assessments in that Duke wanted to understand if there were systemic issues in Duke’s culture.  

John reported on the Indiana recommendations, noting that some of the recommendations have to be considered through the lens of how they do, or do not, align with the Duke federated IT culture. John also said the Indiana model suggests a very proactive role for the CISO office.  This approach differs from Duke’s traditional approach and will require further discussion, he said.