Duke ITAC - March 29, 2012 Minutes

Duke ITAC - March 29, 2012 Minutes

ITAC  Meeting Minutes

March 29, 2012, 4-5:30

Allen Board room



Announcements - 5 min

Duke International Update-40 min
                - Dr. James Roberts, Ginny Cake, Tracy Futhey

Email Futures (Cloud RFP Status & Duke Approach)-25 min
                - Tracy Futhey, John Board

Lab Renovations (Multimedia Project Studio & Hudson)-20 min
                - Stephen Toback, Evan Levine, Michael Faber


Alvy Lebeck called the meeting to order.

Tracy Futhey mentioned an article about bandwidth problems in the residence halls. This caught us a little unaware. We know we had an issue a month ago with some difference in speeds and slowness. This was addressed, both upstream and downstream. We aren't sure if it's still an issue, but there are some anecdotal indications that there may be a new issue. We will continue to work on this.

Tracy also noted that notifications will be going out tonight at 6pm to students who were admitted. This will put demand on the system as 33,000 people may be checking all at once to find out their status. This has become an event similar to class registration in terms of the demand it puts on our systems.


Duke International Update (Dr. James Roberts, Ginny Cake, Tracy Futhey)

Dr. Roberts opened by saying that many people are working on the China campus project, particularly Nora Bynum. Nora is the person in the Provost's office spearheading the program development. Dr. Roberts is spearheading the administrative infrastructure. Dr. Roberts and Nora are going back to China next week anticipating the results of the review and site visit by the Ministry of Education.

Dr. Roberts gave an overview on the program end. DKU is a collaboration of three parties; Duke University, the City of Kunshan and Wuhan University. Duke Kunshan University will create a new legal entity in China. It will have its own board. Duke will have three of the seven members on the board; Dr. Roberts, Peter Lang and trustee Tom Gorey. Major decisions will require a five person majority.

We anticipate that the audience of students will be 50% Chinese and 50% other international, including US. There is an elaborate contract between the parties that is dependent on approval from the Ministry of Education.  The review is ongoing. This is a serious process with input from a panel of experts within the MoE and presidents from Chinese universities. We've had preliminary questions and we've been responding to them. The Duke strategy is to focus initially on graduate programs. There will be some experimentation in the undergraduate space. Initially there will be credit-bearing courses from Duke, but not courses leading to a degree at DKU. Longer -term there would be an undergraduate program all the way up through PhD programs at DKU. The goal of the Chinese is to have a real, full-fledged university.

The initial phase is a 200 acre site provided by the municipality. It is in a high tech district with clean industry, research and tech space. It's a little like RTP, though not quite as mature. The site has been master-planned for Duke by a world-class firm. The first six buildings in phase one are well along in the construction phase. The construction is being paid for by City of Kunshan. In order to control quality Duke has paid for architectural design costs. We are also paying consultants to monitor the construction process. We should have five buildings ready by summer of 2013. Academic programs should open late summer, or early fall. The sixth building was conceived a little later and will follow by in another six months to a year.

Dr. Roberts showed map of China. He pointed out that Shanghai is at the center of the China coast at the mouth of the Yangtze River. Kunshan is about 37 miles inland. It's on the high-speed rail line, in-between Shanghai and Suzhou. Suzhou is an attractive and ancient city in China. Some people associated with Kunshan may well want to live in Suzhou. The provincial capital, Nanjing is another 45 minutes on rail to the West. This is a prosperous region by Chinese standards. The Kunshan region is one of the fastest growing areas in China by GDP standards.

Dr. Roberts showed a map of the campus plan, phase-one. The buildings are designed by Gensler Associates. Dr. Roberts then showed renderings of the buildings in the project; the academic building, the conference center, the innovation building, the services building, the student housing and the faculty housing buildings.

This is phase one. We will soon be talking about phase two.

Dr. Roberts showed a slide with a number of ways that Peter Lang has articulated objectives that Duke will achieve in DKU. Particularly noted was an interest in experimentation and learning back and forth as well as learning new education modes. He cited that much has been learned in Singapore, and brought back to campus.

The Chinese are interested in developing a knowledge economy. Competition in China is regional. Other municipalities have education parks, too. It's a lot of how excellence is driven. Wuhan is our academic partner. They are principally responsible for the relationship with the MoE. Wuhan is also the officially recognized sponsor of the project. They have been our representative with the ministry as we go through the process.

The initial program will be a Fuqua MMS degree. There will be one component on the Duke campus and another component in Kunshan. Fuqua operates on a five term system. For the Kunshan component the first three terms will be at Fuqua. The two terms after Winter break will be in China. The students would all be seeking jobs in the Chinese job market. Eventually there might be more terms held in China. Having a US experience is probably a good recruiting move. This plan has been approved all the way through the Board of Trustees.

The other graduate program that is set to go is the Masters in Science and Global Health. We hope that it will begin in the fall of 2103, as well. This program has been approved by the faculty affiliated with Global Health. It is mid-stream in the faculty governance process. There will be research facilities for the faculty in their fields.

Robert Wolpert asked if it was it always intended that the MMS students would move from Durham to Kunshan.

Dr. Roberts answered that it was recognized early in the process that there would be value in exposure to both locations. It will be a matter or trial and error to determine the best mix.

Dr. Roberts continued by explaining that for undergraduates there would be clusters of four related interdisciplinary courses at any one time. This would be much like a study abroad, available for Duke students and other US students. There would also be Chinese students. The first cluster is a Global Health cluster. Others are being considered.

Peter has solicited course proposal ideas through the China Faculty Council under the leadership of Paul Hagen in the Law School. Seed money is being used with an RFP type system to develop additional clusters. It is envisioned that a suite of maybe eight of these would be offered on a rotating basis. There is hope that we will learn more about the teaching methods and the topics of interest to our Chinese students and partners.

Robert asked what language will be used for courses.

Dr. Roberts replied that the courses will be taught in English.

Dr. Roberts continued by explaining that in the next six months a lot going will be going on with the government approval process. We hope that next week will be a big turning point. The application was submitted in June of 2011. We were told it would take about a year. So, we are pretty much on track. Paul Manning from our Duke team has been great. He's been in China a lot.

There is a search underway, lead by Dr. Jeff Vincent in the Nicholas School to identify a person to be the Vice-Chancellor, which is the chief operating officer. This person would formally report to the DKU Board, but would also have a strong relationship with our Provost. We have the right to name that person. We have also hired two other people who are in essentially Associate Dean roles at DKU. Both have substantial China and US experience.

On the administrative side power is currently invested in a Preparation Committee. Each party got to name six members to this committee. The Executive Preparation Committee (EPC) can make financial decision. There are two members from each party. Nora Bynum and Dr. Roberts represent Duke on this committee which is empowered to make binding financial decisions.

There is a Chancellor. The chancellor has to be Chinese, by law. It is likely to be a former Wuhan President. This person most likely will not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the campus. We've also developed collaborative working groups in a number of areas including the fundamental foundation for HR, Finance, IT and Marketing. The notion is that we want to provide strong leadership, but also have a lot to learn from our partners.  Ultimately budgetary and staffing decisions will need to be approved by the DKU Board. We are a part of the board, but everything is structured for consensus building.  We're about to start working groups for student administrative services, library services  and student life.

The EPC has approved searches for director level positions in HR, Finance and IT. There are job descriptions that we drafted and were vetted through our working groups.

There are a lot of people involved around campus. We have a China Operations group that meets every two weeks to integrate what people are doing across work-streams. There are also formal working groups. We have people on the ground in China who keep up with translation and keep the logistics going.

Dr. Roberts offered to entertain questions before turning over to Ginny Cake for IT presentation.

Terry noted that is impressive how many names on the slide are recognizable. Lots of Duke administrators are spending significant time putting together the new campus. How does this impact local work?

Dr. Roberts replied that most find it to be extremely exciting and challenging. He thinks that everyone is pretty energized about the project. We've had to do a little more and it's probably healthy. He's had to let go of some hands-on activities that he didn't really need to be doing anyway.  He also noted that the people we interact with have similar interests and values.  We also have to realize that the people we're working with aren't in control of all that we need.

Terry followed up by asking if people have been hired to fill in.

Jim replied that this has only happened a little bit. So far we are in a hands-on role. Once we get a staff in place in Kunshan our role will become more consultative. We're currently dealing with things like figuring out how to get money back and forth and how to structure employment relationships. Many people will be direct hires in China and strictly under their labor law. However when we have a faculty member at Duke who takes an administrative role there we'll have to deal with secundment and those sorts of things.  This isn't the only thing going on in China or around the world. We have had a Global Administrative Support Steering Committee for about two years that is the triage point for all international projects.

Tracy noted that the fact that we have a physical campus is creating a good exercise for other things we do globally. We're figuring things out better with a real campus. Something about having a real campus has forced us to look harder at issues. We now have to address things like security and remote access. It has absolutely added overhead, but it has been interesting and useful overhead. Ginny Cake and Bob Johnson have taken on most of the IT work associated with this effort.

Terry added that eventually there must be staffing consequences.

Ginny noted that fortunately she is not a day-to-day operational person.

Robert asked if we could note some interesting HR issues.

Dr. Roberts said that there's been a lot of discovery about subtleties of labor law and practice. For instance, contrary to his expectations, there isn't a monolithic imposing central government. The reality is that jurisdiction is very local. An example is tax status. US Tax law is huge. China's is not. Much is left to local interpretation. This is probably also true in labor law. There are big principals, but each province has interpretive rights. There has been new national legislation, recently, that would require that expats contribute to the Chinese social security system. The timing and terms are left to the local provinces. This has already been enacted in Beijing, but not yet in Shanghai.

Terry asked if the local government is autocratic. Is there a mayor who controls decisions?

Dr. Roberts said that our key contact is Vice Mayor Jin. She is a very accomplished woman who has many areas to administer. The Mayor hosted a formal dinner for Dr. Broadhead.  This was formal dinner, with lots of strange food, smoking and drinking.

Tracy interjected that the town of Kunshan is about 2 million?

Dr. Roberts said it may be more like 4-5 million who are actually there, even though the official register may only be 2 million.

A committee member asked if there will be Chinese language and culture courses available for Duke students.

Dr. Roberts said that, yes, there will be a chance for Duke English speaking students to learn Chinese, but the Chinese students who come there should be ready to take English language coursework.

Tracy introduced Ginny Cake, who just got back from a week in China.

Ginny started by saying that this trip was the most productive of her three trips to China to date.

One of the things that we established early in the project was the principles and expectations for our faculty and students.  The focus was on collaboration, communication and unfettered access. We're trying to setup the networks and everything else to support that. Privacy and security are also important. There is lots of data and intellectual property that will need to be transferred back and forth. A lot of this comes back to networks and infrastructure. These will need to be scalable and reliable. They will also need to be flexible to allow capacity for new technologies. We will need to be able to experiment in this new space. The infrastructure work that Bob has been doing is key for this.

The next issue is technology selection and implementation process. Our Chinese partners acknowledge that they have a lot to learn from us, but at the same time we have a lot to learn from them.

For faculty and students a key thing is consistency between the learning spaces in Kunshan and Durham. We need to allow faculty to use familiar teaching technology in teaching spaces. We plan to use telepresence.  There will be a 90 seat telepresence classroom similar to the one at Fuqua. We want to allow a faculty member to be here, teaching a class in China, or vice-versa. This would also allow faculty to teach to the Duke and Kunshan campus at the same time.

The provisioning of credentials and access will need to be approved by Duke. Our Security Office will handle incident management and security. There's a lot to work to do. We're still learning as we go.

Tracy added that there is a longer prose version of IT principals and expectations available. These are being communicated regularly as people are brought on board so that there can be no confusion about the campus we are trying to establish.

Ginny continued that the first part has been to establish a test bed. This was the focus of our most recent trip. Bob has been working with CERNET. We've established a high-speed network in the temporary DKU office. A C40 Tandberg videoconferencing unit has been installed here and at Wuhan. Preliminary testing has been successful. Bob worked hard and did a good job getting this going.

Ginny showed a slide illustrating the connectivity that is in place. The real game-changer was the recently addition of the POP between LA and Beijing. Before then we were going to have to use commercial bandwidth and not get what we really need.

Tracy added that this is 10 G dedicated to the research and education networks.  The maximum allowable latency is 244ms with current configuration. This is now well within the bounds for telepresence. There's still a lot of work to be done relative to infrastructure that we'll address in future meetings.

Ginny showed pictures of the installed "campus in a rack" at Duke temporary offices. We got it all setup the first day and then came back and had to move to another location.

Tracy noted that "campus in a rack" is one of three projects initiated with Cisco that started a few years ago. This is our first implementation that feels like it's in a real place.  This has becomes "the Duke network." It's encrypted and secured.  When you pick up the phone it essentially like being at Duke.  Ming was the first hire for DKU. He was very excited to get VOIP phone so that we can connect to Duke without cost.  Ming was also very excited about the improved bandwidth.

Ginny then showed a picture of the C40 unit connected back to ATC. The picture looked great.

Some of the materials we needed for installation on this trip showed up just in time. Others arrived late. Fortunately our Cisco partners were able to provide us with loaners so that we could proceed with installations and testing. This process also allowed us to interact with one of the possible AV vendors we may be working with for the building installations.

Ginny continued by presenting the next steps for the IT working group. There was a very good face-to-face meeting.  They were impressed with our presentation of deliverables, tasks and timelines.  We felt good that our level of detail and planning was appreciated. We need to do further testing with CERNET and Wuhan connections to optimize network and videoconference performance. Bob noticed some issues between Wuhan and Duke, but hopes to get this cleared up in the next couple of weeks.

The next step is to work with Duke stakeholders to figure out what to do next. One thing is to establish a server environment from back here at Duke and do the storage and virtual and security measures so that we can start testing.  We will probably be working with the Fuqua group and Global Health since they are the first programs.

Tracy added another next step. We are pushing with other I2 universities to find a safe harbor location for data.  Singapore is a possible location for staging data. This could give us a high degree of confidence in speed, responsiveness and security.

Robert asked if data can it be encrypted.

Tracy said yes, absolutely. It is generally expected that people who do business in China encrypt their data. This is better not to ask, but we will encrypt.

Terry asked if VOIP transmissions are encrypted.

Tracy said that yes, everything through our network is encrypted.

Ginny noted that we're excited about being able to use videoconferencing as tool for the working groups. This will be much better than the phone has been.

A question was raised about time shifting. Tracy and Ginny replied that the difference is currently 12 hours. Generally one group does early morning, the other does evening. This hasn't posed a real problem.


Email Futures - "Cloud RDP Status & Duke Approach"  (John Board)

Tracy started by adding context for this presentation. Late last calendar year we finally got contracts with Google and Microsoft that were clearly as good as either was willing to do. The Google offer was better than the public offering. It insured more privacy and insured our data would stay in the US. It also provided better FERPA protections. It didn't go as far as we might have liked and the protections were only around the core application of GoogleApps for education. Microsoft was much more accommodating and understanding of enterprise needs. We basically got all that we asked for in the contract. We were pushing with both to get the terms right. Microsoft then gave us a price. Cost was off the charts. We've spent the last few months negotiating cost with Microsoft.

A second round with Google wasn't particularly productive.

We also went back to Microsoft and said that it was too expensive. It turns out that Microsoft really wants our business. They have come back with a free offering that is at least as good as Googles free offering. It includes the mail and calendar apps in Office 365, free for students, faculty and staff. It includes Sharepoint in the cloud, which means no local managing and provisioning.  It includes Jabber and conferencing presence pieces. This includes a service called "Link". It also includes Office webapps.  This is an equivalent of what you get with Google docs. There is a quota for email, - 25 gig per user.  This is the free offering.  This makes it possible for us to imagine getting out of the email business, which would mean a six figure savings just in hardware and licensing.

Decisions still need to be made and things have to be vetted. We have a good contract, terms and pricing from Microsoft. There is also innovative technology from Google. We are in a good position to make a choice.

One other piece from Microsoft is a service called "archiving" that could provide data hold, and unlimited quota. The cost is about 8$ a year. Right now our mail environment with a 2 gig quota costs about $6 a year, -if we run at capacity. The true cost is actually higher. The "archiving" option can be purchased on a per user basis, so it's flexible. This means that those who need more can subscribe individually.

Robert asked if we do this are we committed is a way that could put us over a barrel in the future.

John replied that there are contractual obligations dealing with data.

There was some discussion about discovery requests and how they could be handled in either contract.

Tracy also noted that the Microsoft would be a contract available to all higher education.  We get a slightly better deal for the archiving as early adopter.  We're not getting a special rate, which is a good thing. The Google deal was just for us.

Terry asked if is Microsoft 365 same is the same as Exchange.

Tracy answered that, yes, it's Microsoft 2010, in the cloud.

John added that the user experience is the same.

Randy Haskin asked if there has been any integration with apps like QUAD. Will they work?

Mark McCahill answered that this is on a big list of questions for Microsoft technical team. Branding is also on the list. We want to make sure these things are going to work, if we go in this direction.

John added that we have a much longer list of questions we need to ask ourselves and answer to make this decision. We have the advantage of not being the only group considering this. Our students have formally requested that we do something in the cloud.  Brown was an early adopter of gMail and they are still around. USC changed quite some time ago. Berkley had to rapidly ditch their on-campus email system. They compared Microsoft and Google and went with Google, but their boundary conditions were very different than ours. They were dealing with a sinking ship. Other peers are going through this analysis and have shared information.

A number of factors are unique to Duke. We're running 3 separate email systems. We are already in a fractured state, but not in an emergency state. There is a need to make a major change with Sunmail. We are unique in our use of a shared inbox function. There are 9000 shared inbox instances. This is one of the reasons we have to find a solution. There may be some tools that can address this need. We have professional schools pushing Exchange because it is what their graduates will see in the real world of law and business. It is hard to overstate the value of Microsoft being willing to deal with HIPPA. Another factor is that both Exchange 2010 and Office 365 are good imap clients. This could be viewed as a big imap store with a 25 gig quota. This could be another good selling point. We are also sensitive to people not wanting to change systems regularly.

Microsoft is coming to visit in a couple weeks to look at identity management issues. Mark added that we probably would leave mailing lists in place on Cimba. One option is looking into whether we can we run both Microsoft and Google. It might be plausible to give people a choice. This creates complications, but we're already complicated.

Tracy said that it would be good to get information from people who have issues with Exchange. We need to know who has issues and what the issues are. From the server side, Exchange has been solid. We've had 100% uptime. One of the beauties of Exchange is that it's fully redundant. However, experiences vary by client. There have also been 6-8 occasions where we've dealt with phishing instances where accounts have been compromised. When this happens our own email infrastructure has been brought its knees. This is misleading as the root of the problem isn't Exchange. All systems are affected by these attacks. It's important to understand what the real issues are. If we have users with issues, we need to better understand what those issues really are. We can say the system has been running very quickly and efficiently.

Terry said that report today was that email wasn't getting sent.

Tracy replied that this isn't Exchange, - it impacts all users regardless of which email system they use.

Terry asked if the problem would be better, worse or the same if we were in the cloud.

Mark replied that it would be better because the cloud instances have throttles already in place that won't let you send hundreds of thousands of messages. It will let you send 500 or 1,000 and then you're cutoff for the day.

A question was raised about legitimate bulk mailings, like in admissions. Mark answered that, yes, there are bulk mail processes for that kind of need. He also confirmed that higher education is a target for this type of phishing.

Lab Renovations "Multimedia Project Studio & Hudson" (Stephen Toback, Evan Levine, Michael Faber)


Evan Levine manages OIT's Lab Engineering Group. Stephen Toback and Michael Faber work with Interactive Technology Services. They presented to the committee via videoconference.

There are two new labs currently under construction. These labs are designed to address the changing and new demands of the Duke community. There is more emphasis on specialty labs and technology enhanced learning spaces. We're getting away from spaces that have as many workspaces as possible crammed into a room.   

The first lab is Hudson 117. This has been a traditional public computer lab. It has a sizable number of Lenox workstations and monitors. It is located at the main entrance to Hudson and is highly utilized. It also gets some classroom use.

Last year when the room was up for renewal OIT and Engineering decided to collaborate and update the space. DART goals were considered in the planning. There was a focus on quality over quantity. More and more students have their own computers. They are looking to us for space to work and access to specialized applications, but not necessarily hardware all the time. A number of student groups from Pratt were involved in the planning process. We also took the interesting approach of inviting students who were actually using the lab to join in the process. This was quite effective.

The new space needs to be flexible. It needs to function as space for individual study and group collaboration. It also should be available for presentation when needed.

Part of the solution was to replace the Lenox workstations with dual boot iMacs. These are consistent with other public computing spaces. They room layout is more configurable and flexible. We got feedback that people really like the Link. This space was modeled in some way after those spaces.

The project allowed us to address long-standing maintenance issues in the room. There was substantial hardware savings since the iMacs are less expensive than the Lenox workstations. We also deployed less of them. These are consistent with the DART goals.

Evan showed a rendering of the space. It's very open. There are lots of windows. We wanted it to be featured when you come into the building.

Evan also showed a floor plan. The space can be setup as 23 individual seats using 14 dual-boot computers. It can also be setup for 5 workgroup areas for collaboration. There is floor and wall power for laptops. There will also be very good wireless connectivity. There are two wall-mounted LCDs. The 70" LCD at the front of room works better than a projector. It is similar in cost, but cheaper and easier to install and maintain than projectors. It also has a modern look and feel. The other LCD in the small group area has a kvm switch so that users can connect a laptop for collaboration.

Construction began March 3rd. It's scheduled to be done at end of April. It may not open until the end of the summer. It looks like we will use the IT lab image on the machines for now.

Steve and Michael presented on the Multimedia Project Studio. Steve started by giving some history. The studio was first setup in 2002 in Old Chem. This was a place where students, faculty and staff could work on audio and video. It provided tools that were not available at the general computing labs at Duke. We then opened up a branch on East in the Lilly Library. Both of these are highly utilized and specialized spaces.

In 2008 we expanded the MPS West. There was a growing need for higher level tools. We built a pro version. This included a sound booth and pro editing station where two or three students could sit and collaborate and edit video while listening to speakers rather than using headphones.

In 2010 we met with CIT, the library and Student Affairs to rethink the whole service model. We wanted to be sure that we were addressing needs on a regular and evolving basis. One thing that we talked about was that MPS West well hidden.

This led to a project of moving to the technical alcove that sits between Bostoc and Perkins Libraries.  It's near the Link and CIT. It's a much more visible space.

The general computing area will have 14 iMacs. These will have the Adobe Creative Suite for video, still image and web creation. They will also have Apple's video suite and specialized peripherals such as video tape decks and scanners. We will bring over the sound booth. We'll also expand the use of pro tools. The sound booth was heavily utilized so we plan to have people record in the sound booth but then move to the stations out in the lab for editing when they are done recording. We're also bringing over the video editing suite. This is a room with a door that allows a team to collaborate in an enclosed environment.

The new space will also have a reception desk. This will allow better visibility and will provide a location for consulting while still keeping an eye on the lab and being visible to users. There will be a digital screen behind the reception desk. This will be an information screen. It will also provide a space for showing examples of student work.

Steve showed a rendering of the space.

Finally there will be a room with a hi-definition videoconferencing camera that can be used for videoconferencing. It can also be used as a studio for Panopto recordings. It is also possible to record directly to FinalCut pro from this station. There's a podium that can be used for doing presentations in front of the camera. At back of room there will be a Squiggle board. This is a Vaddio product that allows recording of whiteboard writing in HD for videoconferencing and recording. This will allow users to experiment with this kind of capture technology.

Robert asked if these are real pens.

Steve answered, yes, they are real pens with a sleeve that communicate in real time.

Alvy said that we have time for one question.

Dave Bowersox asked about the square footage of the MPS and extended area?

Tracy answered that it's a little bigger that the Allen Boardroom.

Dave asked a follow-up question about the students who use the recording booth and do editing outside. Do they require much staff support?

Steve said that it varies. We track interaction. There are some users who are very sophisticated and work there on their own. We provide just-in-time training for other users to get them started.  Depending on the need we also work with Christine Vusinich in our training group to help faculty with more detailed instruction. We have a scheduling tool that shows skills of the technicians who are scheduled for work so that users can plan to come when someone with the needed skills will be there. All attendants get the baseline knowledge, but there are also specialists.

A question was asked about which software is used for video editing.

Steve answered that we have iMovie, FinalCut pro 7, FinalCut pro X and Adobe Premier.