Duke ITAC - March 17, 2011 Minutes

ITAC Meeting Minutes
March 17, 2011, 4:00-5:30
Allen Board Room

  • Announcements, Introductions, and Meeting Minutes
  • Buy@Duke Update (Todd Orr, Jane Pleasants)
  • School IT Report - School of Nursing (David Bowersox, Glenn Setliff, Beth Phillips, Lisa Bowles)
  • Software License Update (Evan Levine, Jim Rigney)


Announcements, Introductions, and Meeting Minutes

Alvy Lebeck called the meeting to order. Evan Levine was introduced as the new scribe for ITAC meeting minutes. The committee extended thanks to Mary McKee for her previous management of the ITAC minutes.

Buy@Duke Update (Todd Orr, Jane Pleasants)
An advisory group for Buy@Duke started meeting in early 2008 developing a proposal for ITAC, which was presented November 2008. Following the proposal, Todd said the project was put on hold for about a year and recently restarted in January 2010.

Buy@Duke is a web based e-procurement system. Its primary benefits are increased efficiencies for investigators in ordering and reporting research supplies and materials, and in leveraging more broadly institutional contracts and pricing. It also features significantly improved controls and process efficiency, building upon SAP functionality already in use at Duke. Buy@Duke can be accessed through the Duke@Work portal and features familiar transaction workflows, which should be familiar to users.

Todd said that the group wanted to make sure principal investigators were well represented, and that the group worked closely with a large variety of faculty in order to do so. The advisory group was also well attended by business managers, lab managers, and grant administrators. Currently, purchasing can be done procurement card, standing orders, paper requisitions, and SAP electronic requisitions. Buy@Duke offers instead a web based shopping cart with catalog orders, text orders, departmental workflow approvals, institutional workflow approvals, and electronic purchase orders to vendors supporting such methods. The catalog orders in particular allow users of the system to procure materials directly from leading research/laboratory product vendors and catalogs, among other current and planned sources.

The system can support a variety of roles and discretion at the departmental level for setting approvals. Alvy Lebeck asked if roles in this system are consistent with roles used by identity management at Duke. Todd responded that the system is NetID based, but the roles may not align with anything currently in IDM. John Board asked if settings will need to be configured individually. Todd answered that each user and account did need to be configured individually. With a variety of user types and permissions, as well as challenges such as some units have designated purchasing approvers who were not Duke employees, identity management presented a substantial obstacle to the team.

Buy@Duke currently supports 18 vendor catalogs oriented towards biological sciences. Jane Pleasants mentioned that at some point vendors like Staples will be on the site, largely broadening its scope. The current focus is on research, which is represented by the 18 vendors initially offered. John Board asked if there is still a review process for adding catalogs. Jane responded that there are up to 400 catalogs that could be reviewed and activated, but at this point they would only feature list price for items, not Duke pricing. The 18 current hosted catalogs are capable of featuring Duke-specific pricing. Other institutions using this product have turned on the full catalog and experienced pricing confusion from customers. Procurement will be looking for feedback and hopes that user education will help people to understand the pricing differences in the future.

The foundation of Buy@Duke is SAP’s SRM module with SciQuest research catalogs. The system is currently in use at Johns Hopkins, Cornell Medical College, and the Baylor College of Medicine. It is supported on Internet Explorer and Firefox for Windows operating systems and Firefox for Mac OS X. Workflow support is through the Duke@Work universal work list. Buy@Duke branding will be used throughout in place of standard SAP and SciQuest branding.
Common Roles in the system are “Shoppers” capable only of shopping, “Experienced Shoppers” able to shop, modify account info, and submit orders, and “Super Shoppers” which can do all of the above and also feature a higher dollar limit. Purchases made by all shoppers below a set departmental threshold will go through instantly. Purchases above departmental threshold, go through an appropriate predetermined approval process.

Buy@Duke is currently being piloted in Immunology and the Pediatrics division of Neonatology. Future pilots are planned in Biology, Genome Sciences, and Electrical & Computer Engineering. Release is scheduled as early as May 1, but may come later depending on the feedback received . Ben Getson asked if non-academic offices at Duke will be able to use this service.  Todd answered that the service will available to all of Duke, academic and administrative. Procurement is not sure how long it will take to work through each department yet. Todd does not view this as a matter of turning on a service, as people and business processes and habits will need to be trained and changed.

Dan Clement gave a brief demo of Buy@Duke showing an example purchase process. Robert Wolpert asked how often the hosted prices are updated. Jane responded that the Duke pricing in the hosted catalogs is based on negotiated contracts. The hosted catalogs are updated whenever the vendor sends new information. Alvy Lebeck asked when in the process a transaction is committed. Dan responded that when finished shopping, the user leaves the market place and their shopping cart information is brought back to Buy@Duke along with default user information. All that’s needed to commit the transaction at that point is funding information. The cart could alternatively be saved and later completed by someone else if needed. Jane pointed out that team carts with varying levels of approval are also available. Graduate students and others who may not have GL codes can still create and identify carts for approval.

John Board expressed concerns regarding shipping charges when purchases are made through multiple vendors or do not meet minimums. Jane responded that any conditions such as minimum order amounts will be made clear in the catalog. Dave Richardson said that it would be nice to get a delivery estimate at the end of purchasing. Jane responded that this functionality is dependent on each vendor and that some order acknowledgements may still need to be done via fax. The email address of the person placing the order will be provided to the vendors who support electronic acknowledgement.

School IT Report: Duke University School of Nursing (David Bowersox, Glenn Setliff, Beth Phillips, Lisa Bowles)

David began by sharing summary details for the School of the Nursing, showing a 57% growth in enrollment over the past two years as well as between $8,000,000 and $10,000,000 a year in grant funding. Many faculty in the School of Nursing also serve roles in a clinical environment at Duke hospitals. The School of Nursing recently achieved its goal of becoming ranked in the top 10 nursing schools by US News and World Report. David noted that students view this list as an important indicator of educational quality.

Glenn Setliff noted that there are two buildings on Trent Drive featuring five large lecture classrooms, a variety of seminar rooms, computer labs, and simulation manikins. Of the four nursing programs offered, two are exclusively online. Customer service staffing is a top priority. David and Glenn both shared a similar desire to become more student focused. That focus lead to a recent project to build a scaled down version of the Link with a waiting area, three analysts, seven network ports, emergency printing, and software installation. Temporary employees are hired during back to school periods to assist with workload.

John Board asked for technical details on the environment from which nursing students are connecting remotely. Lisa Bowles answered that they are generally at a location with more than adequate hardware and bandwidth.
Glenn described a direct reporting structure to DHTS with regard to IT Security, but also noted that the School of Nursing works with both the University and Medical Center on a regular basis. Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is used to ensure patching and software deployment. The School of Nursing has developed an automated software request system that integrates with SCCM. IT staff regularly participate in ITAC, an internal brownbag lunch, and produce an “IT Minute” video series providing information on IT in Nursing for community members. Glenn showed a brief demo of an IT Minute video.

Beth Phillips noted that significant effort has been put into the testing of virtual environments as part of the School of Nursing’s curricular efforts. Lessons learned from initial studies have indicated that virtual reality is a feasible environment for learning, Beth said. Students reported a sense of belonging found through courses featuring interaction in Second Life and creation of avatars fashioned in own likeness preserved a consistent self-concept. In contrast, students using Elluminate and Blackboard reported feelings of isolation. A chat board is used in the Second Life environment where students can ask questions by typing rather than just by speaking.  Beth said that faculty have observed a wide range of opportunities teaching in 3D worlds, but feel that more experimentation is needed.

Beth demonstrated a virtual lab building constructed with four patient rooms, equipment, and scenarios needed for virtual lab exercises. Beth found there was a steep curve in learning to manipulate avatars and movement in second life. Ten different objectives were created for labs and each scenario has about five outcomes based on the student actions taken. Lynne O’Brien asked what the benefit is of a virtual lab compared to a video lab. Beth responded that while a video is only watched, students get to have real interaction and participation in the virtual labs.

Beth shared her opinion that while highly beneficial, getting students trained to use the Second Life labs would ultimately be too time consuming. In early 2010 she began experimenting with a new platform, Unity3d. Unity featured a more realistic appearance, better graphics, movable objects, and required less time for creating avatars. A potential downside of Unity is that it required a more advanced graphics card, and Beth expressed concern the software would run poorly on many laptops. Unity supports interdisciplinary opportunities allowing medical students and nursing students to work together in their roles. Tracking for grading, review, and remediation is also possible. Beth has identified “cyber-sickness” as a potential side effect of all virtual environments, and expressed a need to prepare students to recognize symptoms and take breaks.

In terms of cost, Beth has estimated it costs roughly $11,000 to develop each virtual room, though noting that as more rooms are created cost may decrease from duplication of certain objects and machines. Three rooms have been completed through work from Beth and a full time programmer. She hopes to have a portal of entry created by Fall 2011 for student testing. Beth demonstrated the system showing the use of real electronic records in the virtual environment, an important trend of modern healthcare. She also showed how student actions are documented and recorded, which is helpful for instructors. Beds and machines in the virtual environment were shown to be visually and mechanically accurate relative to those in use in Duke’s hospitals, giving students an opportunity to learn to manipulate and work with real world equipment.

Molly Tamarkin asked how this form of education prepares people for less technological environments. Beth responded that the key is to focus on the concepts behind the technology. The technology is only being used for training; the concepts learned are the same that would be used anywhere. Julian Lombardi asked if any team based training is being done. Beth replied that there is much discussion around the topic and that the goal is to bring medical students and nursing students together and have them work together as they would in their future jobs. Scalability would also be improved in teams as only so many rooms are available at any given time.

Software License Update (Evan Levine, Jim Rigney)

Evan began by presenting a brief summary of OIT Software License statistics and projects from 2010.  The program supported 114,000 downloads and 187,000 reported installations over the annual period. Evan explained that the number of downloads represents actual file transfers, and the number of reported installations is how many times users indicated they were going to install each file downloaded. Without a centralized method for tracking software inventory on all Duke computers, this is the most accurate number available.

License servers were made available to the public for Matlab, Mathematica, and Maple. These servers make it possible for researchers, labs and any individuals interested to use a network license file managed by OIT rather than annually maintaining their own licenses. Network installations for SAS have been made available preventing unnecessary burning of DVD media and lengthy download times. SAS had grown in size to require as many as 5 DVD’s per order. The OIT Software License team has been able to use the new Active Directory infrastructure to make SAS installation files available through a Windows share and authenticate users by NetID and password.

Evan mentioned that Glenn Setliff, Jr. had done an excellent job creating documentation in DUNK and a web-based FAQ. Previously this type of information had been non-existent or difficult to find, but is now easily accessible by the public and support groups such as the OIT Service Desk.

An Adobe Enterprise License Agreement was reviewed in 2010, but was found too costly to pursue. Under an ELA, usage of particular Adobe products could increase at no additional charge, but the cost of the agreement itself was substantially higher than current spending and future trends. Evan said that Adobe licensing will be monitored closely and reevaluated if necessary.

Wayne Miller commented that current spend on Adobe products is not indicative of all users at Duke who may benefit from the ability to use Adobe software. Evan agreed, and responded that while there is certainly potential for more usage at Duke, the ELA did not prove to be the most financially beneficial option.

Evan showed that the Microsoft Campus Agreement, which had its first full year at Duke in 2010, easily represented the most downloaded software of the year. Microsoft downloads far exceeded the previous years most popular items, McAfee, ePrint, and EndNote. Evan also mentioned that for anyone interested, http://analytics.oit.duke.edu is available and shows statistics for many OIT groups, including software download information.

For 2011, Evan shared that his group will be working on improving communication regarding new software evaluations and licenses not centrally managed. While internal communication has been much improved over the past few years, there is much to be done externally. OIT Software License needs to work with schools and departments to ensure that items which should be centrally managed are brought to the attention of the Software License Committee, and that items not centrally managed are licensed departmentally in the most effective way possible.

Evan said that the Qualtrics Survey Tool was progressing well and would continue to be a large project in the coming year. The tool is currently available to anyone with a Duke NetID interested in being an early adopter by visiting http://duke.qualtrics.com. The service has been running since early 2011 and is already serving over 240 users, a number growing daily.

The ability to accept online payments has become a top priority for the OIT Software License group. As Duke continues to expand nationally and globally, the practice of requiring customers to physically swipe a credit card on campus has become outdated.  Evan mentioned that customers do currently have the ability to email an IR form to pay for software, but this is only an option for those paying with a Duke fund code. In addition to expanding options for payment, OIT Software License is also continuing to expand the number of software packages offered for network installation. As already proven with SAS, this method saves time, bandwidth, and physical media.

Jim Rigney reviewed trends from the Duke Computer Store that showed a large decline in packaged software sales over the past few years. Jim expects to see this shrink more in future years as more purchasing is done online and through OIT Software License. With the majority of Microsoft products covered under Duke’s recent Campus Agreement, Adobe now represents roughly 85% of packaged software sales.

Dave Richardson asked if the Unity3d product being used by the School of Nursing was covered under a site license. Evan responded that it was not, but that if it should be looked into further the Software License Committee would be happy to do so.  

Mark Elstein asked if the license server has had any impact on how students can access Matlab. Evan said the Matlab license agreement does not allow for installation on student hardware. There is documentation for faculty and staff wishing to use the license servers for Matlab, but students in particular will not benefit for that specific software package.

John Board asked if requests continue from faculty and others who would like to see new software provided by OIT Software License. John also asked for examples of software that has successfully gone through the evaluation process. Evan answered that while the majority of requests are evaluated and found not feasible, roughly 1-2 per year do get approved and made available. Qualtrics and Refworks were given as examples of major titles offered by OIT initiated through the evaluation process.

Wayne Miller noted some past difficulties with lack of consistency between the Duke Computer Store and OIT Software License. Evan and Jim agreed that historically there had been synchronization issues regarding the Microsoft Campus Agreement and that they believed those issues have been resolved.

David Tremmel asked Evan if he believes that Adobe is attempting to move away from concurrent licensing and what challenges we may face with regard to Adobe licensing in the future. Evan responded that there is currently no reason to believe Adobe will cancel the existing concurrent licensing structure, but that the vendor is clearly pushing hard for the new Enterprise License Agreement structure and product terms. The largest challenge here will be finding a cost effective and low effort method for licensing such a large scale product at Duke. Evan’s hope is that if Adobe does wish to move away from other licensing structures, they will make the ELA pricing more attractive.

Susan Gerbeth-Jones asked for Evan’s opinion on whether or not the Microsoft Campus Agreement has proven itself to be a good value, and whether or not it will be reviewed regularly. Evan responded that based on the usage seen in the past year it seems clear the agreement has been a success. What needs to be reviewed more closely is whether or not additional products should be added for future years. Microsoft SQL was given as an example of a product not in the MCA which is still being purchased in large amounts from the computer store at individual pricing.