ITAC Meeting Minutes
Thursday August 28, 2014

I. Announcements

  • The annual CIT Showcase is being held in the fall this year on October 13th; Mark your calendars.
  • At the last ITAC meeting, many people were bemused to see twitch[1](link is external), a site where viewers watch others playing video games, was on the top 10 list of Websites used on campus.  It was bought by Amazon for $1B yesterday. On a typical night, there is as much traffic as Comedy Central or MTV.  For example, last fall during the League of Legends Tournament, Twitch had more viewers than the season/series finales of multiple top TV shows combined. 
  • The blue 20-ft shipping container outside the Bryan Center is a maker space housing 3D printers and laser cutters.  There are a number of such spaces under development on Duke’s campus with a lot of interest from undergraduates in Engineering and Arts & Sciences and will be discussed in September25th ITAC meeting.
  • The DAS Cellular Head-End [2](link is external)will be live by the next time we meet.  Verizon is finishing construction tomorrow and will begin commissioning next week.  Environmental Hall will be the first building, with completion target by the end of Q1 2015 (March 31, 2015). Verizon, Sprint and AT&T (Question)
  • Duke Gardens is now live with Wi-Fi.

 Questions and Comments:

 Q: What is a maker space? A maker space has been termed as is a place where one goes to create and build things using computerized tools such as3-D printers, laser printers, laser cutters, and design software, just to name a few. While there are manual tools available, the idea is to utilize computerized tools to build and create.

Q: How long is the (maker space) box going to be there?  Through the weekend – 4 days.

Q: What cellular carriers are included? Verizon, Sprint & AT&T

Q: Will the OIT Website be revised to include the completion schedule?  Yes and we’re hoping to post it in the next week.


[1](link is external)

[2](link is external) DAS: Distributed Antenna System.  The Head-End is the point of interface between the distributed antenna system and carrier and public safety signals.  

II. Agenda Items

4:05- 4:25 – DKU Update, James Roberts, Ginny Cake, Bob Johnson (10 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)

What it is:  DKU, Duke’s new joint venture university in China, has opened to students and o

Why it’s relevant: Jim Roberts has led Duke-side administrative planning for DKU and is one of the Duke-named trustees of the new university.  Jim will provide a brief overview of the state of play as the fall semester begins.  Ginny Cake and Bob Johnson will provide an update on DKU campus readiness including infrastructure and campus services. 

  • Nora Bynum, her team, members of OIT and CIT were there to support the inaugural activities.  Orientation was last week and classes started Monday. 
  • There are 10 Duke faculty members this term in the Undergraduate program teaching semester and compressed half-length courses, and permanent DKU faculty in Medical Physics and Global Heath and a Language Program instructor.
  • The students participated in a convocation celebration and the city has been welcoming by hosting events, and arranging for members of the community to meet individual student and faculty upon arrival at the airport. 
  • Students from the US, China, India, Singapore, Kenya, Nigeria, and Vietnam are attending this semester. While the initial enrollment target was 50% Chinese and 50% International and that goal has not yet been reached, there is a diverse mix.  It is easier to recruit Chinese undergraduate students through interinstitutional arrangements where the DKU team formed alliances with Chinese universities and each school nominates students.  Approximately 100 students were nominated and applied, but not all were accepted. 
  • Since the buildings are not yet move-in ready, all activities are being held in downtown Kunshan at the Swiss hotel.  Our focus is on finalizing the conference center by the end of September.
  • A grand opening is planned for mid-November.
  • Technologies such as door access systems, phone systems, and networking infrastructure have been completed.  The ISP (Internet Service Provider) Gateways are working, granting campus connectivity. The Core campus network is also up and working and the campus is primarily a Wi-Fi site. On average we are getting 204 Mb/s of throughput between Duke and DKU.
  • IT Support: Network and Voice teams have rotated engineering staff on site to bring up the infrastructure.  Staff from the OIT Security Office, Desktop Support and CIT augmented DKU IT staff for orientation.  A test was performed to validate all faculty services such as Sakai and video conferencing.  There are approximately 61 services outlined in the service level agreements for Duke IT provided services.  We are developing service level agreements with outside vendors for Audio Visual support and networking to ensure we are augmenting the on-site IT support. 
  • Thanks to Paula Batton, Debbie DeYulia and our Service Desk, support hours were expanded to support DKU IT Staff from 8A-8PM DKU time.  The Service Now stats from Sunday thru today showed 116 incidents and 357 tasks and indicate the Duke community is also taking advantage of the extended support hours.  We will continue monitoring the stats to ensure DKU is getting the support they need and we are not degrading the level of service on Duke’s campus. 

Questions and Comments:

 Q: How late will someone at the IT Service Desk answer the phones Durham time?  Any time 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Q: There has been a soft launch on campus for the extended service desk hours.  Will a more prominent announcement be made?  People are catching on fairly quickly without the announcement and are pleasantly surprised to hear a voice on the other end of the line.

 Q: What are the things you’ve learned by establishing a new campus IT infrastructure and may want to implement on the Duke campus? One of the more exciting thing we’re working on is OpenFlow[1](link is external).  We’ve also put in a non-blocking core and ubiquitous Wi-Fi indoors and outdoors. 

4:25- 4:45 – Research Computing, Julian Lombardi, Mark DeLong (10 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)

What it is:  Research Computing connects Duke University researchers to computational resources that match research requirements, to education and training opportunities, and to expertise in high-performance/high-throughput computing and visualization.

Why it’s relevant: Research Computing has been studied in recent months to lay out directions useful to Duke researchers. We will provide an update on the current projects and future plans of Research Computing.

 Grant initiatives: 

  • NIH S10[2](link is external) “Data Commons”– equipment grant for 1.5 PB of storage, hosted and managed by OIT and placed at the disposal of data producing core facilities in the life sciences:  Sequencing, Proteomics, Microarray Core, RNAi[3](link is external) Core, and the Omics Analysis Core.   There are many researchers from a variety of departments displaying interest.  There is an advisory committee spanning both the campus and the medical center with hopes of discovering a broader reach of scientific projects taking advantage of this storage.
  • NSF CC*IIE[4](link is external): “Data at the Speed of Trust” – Follows on the success of SDN project which uses Software Defined Networking [5](link is external)to increase the efficiency of networks among the University science departments.   The grant applies SDN and adds elements of federating identity management to begin focusing on services that relate to sensitive data; providing researchers with secure access to sensitive data, a means by which collaborators from federated institutions are granted access, and grouping computational resources such as clustered computing, specialized computational resources and storage on the protected network.
  • Google Cloud Credit – Google invited Duke to apply for the use of Google Cloud Engine or Google Cloud Services.  We want to make R-Studio [6](link is external)available for 300 undergraduate students taking introduction to statistics on premises and in the Google cloud.  It’s leveraging something called Docker; a way to containerize workloads and move them transparently, which we think will be key to the Data at the Speed of Trust grant.  We are asking people to think about whether they have research that could benefit from a Cloud environment? Would you like to have $5K or $10K worth of services from Google? Do you have something that is “shovel-ready” and can be executed in 12 months?
  • While grants tend to be discrete projects and studies, we want to take what we learn about using the technologies and from a real implementation that can be broadly used by the research community.  The ideal is that these studies will have a relevance to every researcher at Duke. 
  • Educational Programs
    • SLURM[7](link is external) workshop – Used for research management of shared facilities
    • Duke Docker[8](link is external) Day – Invites people from around campus to a 3-hour event to explore the technology and what it means for the future.  
    • Introduction to Linux
    • “A Little More Advanced Linux”
    • Research Reproducibility Workshop – Occurring in the medical center
    • Do Your Own Docker Workshop – 4 hour hands on workshop

Questions and Comments:

 Q: Is SLURM a Condor replacement? No, it will run in parallel.

Q: Are there online materials we could direct our students to who are unable to attend the workshops?

Q: Will these courses include BASH? There will be some introduction in both

Q: Are you planning to video record the workshops? The courses may need to be more modularized to make them more effective.

4:45- 5:00 – Crypto Currency Conference update, Richard Biever, Nick Trip, John Morris (15 minute presentation)

What it is:  The IT Security Office recently attended the Crypto Currency Conference called Crypto Lina. The goal of this conference is to educate Bitcoin enthusiasts, businesses, investors and students who are less familiar with Cryptocurrencies and want to learn from industry experts. With rapidly increasing frequency, retailers are beginning to accept payments in the form of Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a software based online payment system.

Why it’s relevant:  This presentation will cover the basics of using Cryptocurrencies including what they are, how to use them, why you should (or shouldn’t) use them, potential regulatory issues, and most importantly, how to stay secure when using them.

  • Crypto Currency
  • What is Bitcoin?
    • A digital currency,
    • Decentralized, secure, digital payment system
    • Open Source, publicly owned.
    • 3 Main Components:
      • Users/Wallets (digital software that contains the amount assigned to a user)
      • Mining Nodes
      • The Blockchain:  A public ledger, secured by mathematical
      • Why use it?
        • Transaction security – Bitcoin makes the data breaches we seen in recent months with credit cards impossible.  There is nothing at risk in a transaction.
        • Be your own bank: Direct payments
        • Send payments anywhere, instantly
        • No, or very small fees
        • No risk for business owners to accept. 
      • Why not use it?
        • Volatility of exchange rate – the currency is still vulnerable to manipulation
        • Muddy regulatory waters
        • Storage security – A private key/address on the Bitcoin network.  Where it lives can be anywhere.  Cloud services that host the private keys are prone to attack and hacking.  The same rules apply if the key is stored on a personal computer.
        • Requires user education

Questions and Comments:

Q: Will this exchange go away when another becomes available?  This is not an exchange. 

Q: What are the consequences when exchanges go down?  The money is gone

5:00- 5:30 – Reception, along with a Phishing Shell game with the IT Security Office


[1](link is external) is external)

[2](link is external) NIH: National Institutes of Health - is external)

[3](link is external) RNAi: RNA interference is a biological process where RNA molecules inhibit gene expression

[4](link is external) National Science Foundation Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Infrastructure, Innovation and Engineering Program

[5](link is external) is external)

[6](link is external) is external)

[7](link is external) SLURM: Simple Linux Utility for Resource Management – An open-source workload manager for the Linux kernel

[8](link is external) is external) - An open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications.