DUKE ITAC - August 17, 2006 Minutes
Aug. 17, 1006
Members present : Pakis Bessias, John Board, Shailesh Chandrasekharan, Tammy Closs, Wayne Miller for Dick Danner, Stephen Galla for Nevin Fouts, Tracy Futhey, Susan Gerbeth-Jones, Michael Gettes, Michael Goodman, Bob Newlin for David Jamieson-Drake, David Jarmul, Julian Lombardi, Roger Loyd, Dan Murphy, Kyle Johnson, George Oberlander, Lynne O’Brien, Mark Phillips, Mike Pickett, Rafael Rodriguez, Molly Tamarkin, Christopher Timmins, Trey Turner III, Steve Woody
Guests:Heather Flanagan, OIT; Jeff Abbott, OIT; Ginny Cake, OIT; Tim Poe, OIT; Kevin Witte, OIT; Deborah Johnson, Provost’s Office
Start time : 4:06
I. Review of Minutes and Announcements:
Announcements from Heather Flanagan
- The email quota ‘affirmative action’ tool will start sending messages Monday, Aug. 21.
- Zephyr is going away tomorrow. It was an IM service. It was good for its time, used on a variety of platforms, but it hasn’t been developed in a long time.
- There will be emergency down time for an AFS file server at 5:30 today.
- We are starting the process to decommission UseNet. If you have any concerns, please contact me.
II. Early observations from Mark Phillips, director of Internal Audit for IT
John Board introduces Mark Phillips as the new IT audit director.
Mark Phillips – I will start by introducing myself a little bit. I started June 1, replacing Paul Harrod as the director of IT audit. I cover the university and the health system side. I’ve been working internal audit since 1994. Prior to coming to Duke I worked in retail and manufacturing, so the university and health system setting is new. The last nine years I worked with Sara Lee, where I was responsible for a good portion of internal audit there for departments all over the world. My short-term goals are, first I’m just trying to get on the ground, meet people, understand who people are, what their responsibilities are, understand the IT system at Duke and DUHS, and the unique challenges we face here. I’m also developing a new audit plan for the coming year, which runs October through September, and I’m in the process of hiring three IT audit positions, so I’ve been busy.
I’m extremely excited to be here. It’s a wonderful change of pace for me. Also the prestige and honor of coming to Duke, I’m really excited. Everyone I’ve met with has been very helpful, going above and beyond the call of duty to help me get up to speed. The challenges related to IT for Duke are the decentralized environment and the organization. There has to be a balance between autonomy and control. The whole thing with faculty and the people working on grants and the autonomy they expect was a new concept for me to learn. Also the types of end users varies. Another challenge is managing the expectations of students and faculty at Duke to stay on the cutting edge of technology. The students and faculty say, “We want the latest and greatest and we want it now.”
John – One issue that’s come up is understanding whether individual units are protecting their data adequately. As an institution we have lacked a way of assessing whether that is being adequately done. We have many regulations, including HIPAA and FERPA. I look forward to discussions about improving institutional practices without getting Draconian in protecting information.
Mark – From an audit perspective, people think of auditors as the police. We’re supposed to come in and provide an objective evaluation of the control environment. Based on user need and environment, we have to assess if various risks are acceptable and we’re willing to assume them. That involves having the dialogue and notifying the proper parties.
Tracy – This is important related to how the audit is being approached, not a sense that we’ve got to mitigate every risk. Sometimes the cost is too high.
John – Sometimes that cost is in bothering the faculty.
Tracy – So we need to understand and acknowledge that it’s a line to walk.
John – Where did you get your list of people to meet with?
Mark – I started with org charts and as I meet with people new names keep getting added to the list.
Molly – One of the trends in the academic environment is restrictions placed on grant-funded data, and who owns that data. I just mention that to you because that’s a trend that may be new to you.
Mark – Yes. Not only am I new but I think at the end of the day my whole staff will be new. We realize there’s a learning curve and we need to learn about and address these things.
John – We have every reason to believe you’ll be busy.
III. Video plans for fall term -- Tim Poe, senior manager of OIT’s Digital Media Services
Tim – Mike [Pickett] asked me to talk about where we are in terms of video. [Tim starts slide show] There are four people in Digital Media Services – Todd Stabley, who manages DukeCapture and DukeStream, Ben Rogers, who manages DukeCast and web conferencing, and Tom Freeland, who manages IP video conferencing. We’ve completed our staff, so we’re excited.
[Tim continues slide show overview of DMS activities] Videoconferencing, directory services, multipoint access, video and data, classroom capture, gateway services, training, support. If you want to do a video conference with parties around the country or the world, we can facilitate that. You can call us and we’ll set that up. We also have consultation services for videoconferencing, where you can call and ask what you need to establish a videoconference.
DukeBird is now available so you can check to see if your videoconference is ready. Access to Internet2 is available. We’ll be doing a needs assessment involving key parties throughout campus and the health system to come up with a list of infrastructure that people would like us to bring up. We’ll also be doing documentation soon.
Also web conferencing. I’m very excited about that. We’ve got web-based tools that can allow you to do audio and video chats, polling for classrooms, engaging in distance education strategies, file sharing.
Ben Rogers has done a terrific job of engaging people throughout the community to figure out what people need. Also, we’re just finishing price negotiations and I think we will be able to announce a very robust tool that will be available soon. Hopefully we can announce that in a week or two. It’ll be a pilot, just in terms of working out any quirks working toward full production. Intermediate solutions are available now so if you say, “I have to be able to do something now,” we have solutions available now to use until we roll out enterprise solutions.
John – How do people know you exist?
Tim – We’re trying to get out in as many ways as possible. We’ve been doing needs assessments, now we’re trying to get to as many groups as possible. Please let us know if you know of any groups we should come out and talk to. We have a listserv that has about 130 people. With all the services we’re talking about, we’re seeing OIT as providing the infrastructure and training expertise to experts in the various departments who, in turn, relay that to their departments.
David Jarmul – You might ask Dave Menzies to coordinate with you for an article in Working@Duke.
[Tim continues slide presentation] DukeCapture includes Lectopia. One of the two co-developers has been here this week and that’s been very good. DukeCapture allows for very straightforward automated capture in just about any auditorium or room. You can schedule it for the semester. It can automatically deliver in a variety of formats – podcasts, low-quality streams for dialup users, high-quality streams for medical applications. We now have authentication in place to make sure you can control your access for your class. It also hooks up to iTunesU. As an update on DukeCapture, production began Aug. 1. Audio and video podcasting is available. We’re centrally funding the infrastructure. We’re partnering with Lectopia so it’s beneficial, costs are less than $5,000. The University of Australia is capturing over 400 hours of class a week. I would imagine we could do quite a bit more than that.
Streaming, people have been relying on this for years. We use Quicktime and Real. There’s easy access to publishing via AFS. People can put information in one place for others to read. We have new hardware thanks to the Systems group. New pairs of QT and Helix servers are here. Video directories in AFS are here.
DukeCast, our homegrown podcasting tool, allows you to easily create RSS feeds so you can create your own podcasts. You have controlled access to distributed media. We will have a new release in early fall. DukeCast is not yet in production phase, it’s still in pilot phase. Whether or not it will go into production is still to be seen. We’re also continuing to look at web conferencing capabilities and functionality.
IPTV is being led by Kevin Miller. It will allow multicast video to desktops, laptops, PDAs, TVs. We have increased channel lineups, video on demand, distribution of critical information, and Open Student Television Network so any students at Duke who produces video can put it on the web for public viewing.
[Tim displays targeted dates for exploration, pilot and production phases for DMS services.]
John – What is the cost recovery model for these services. I fear the answer is different in each case. Which of these are being charged for?
Tim – That leads to a future direction. We are going to be making a request for a permanent allocation to fund infrastructure. We think we can do more by providing the services at a central level.
Tracy – To date this has been funded by SIP-plans from the first strategic plan.
Tim – For DukeStream, DukeCapture, DukeCast, web conferencing. For IPTV, that’s not the case. Videoconferencing costs will be absorbed by the users.
John – With videoconferencing, it seems each one can be a custom event.
Tim – DMS is not involved in the production. We’re bringing the infrastructure and knowledge to bear so people can make use of it. We’re relying on the departmental experts.
Tracy – From what I’ve heard from Tim, a couple of people are looking for a turnkey solution. Most are looking for a place where you’ve got the infrastructure, but they want the local expertise to make individual events occur.
Tim – We also want to bring up more people who have the expertise. So people can come to someone and ask how to get something done.
Molly – I want to congratulate you for getting web conferencing up and ready in this amount of time. That was a huge effort among a lot of people, but that’s phenomenal and a credit.
Tim – Credit Ben Rogers for that.
[Comment] – He didn’t know it couldn’t be done.
Heather – This will take a terabyte of storage a semester. That’s what we’re anticipating.
Tim – For now. We’ll work well above that in coming years. One of the challenges is not only how to create this large amount of data but also how to back those up.
Tim – Please check out the DMS website and feel free to contact me or others on my staff.
IV. Sympa email list service -- Heather Flanagan and Jeff Abbott
Heather – Sympa is open-source mailing list tool. We started in March; it was one of the things we got as part of Internet2. We had been and still are using Majordomo, but it hasn’t been developed in years. It doesn’t have a very good archive or management function. It’s just disseminating email. We looked at two tools. We looked at Mailman, which is used a lot in departments on campus. Unfortunately there was a little too much of “the functionality we need would be in the next version,” but no statement of when that would version would be out. Sympa checks the directory for what the preferred email functions are. If you’re managing lists or sending email to lists, there’s a problem because email@example.com and heather.flanagan@duke are two different people. Sympa can check those aliases. We’re just shy of 400 active Sympa lists now. We have almost 2,000 active majordomo lists. We can’t really tell how many people are using the majordomo lists. We’ll clean that up during the migration by contacting the list owners. We also need to contact them because it looks a lot different and it does a lot of things that Majordomo can’t do. So there’s been lots of handholding. Planning for the next version, 5.2, will allow us to do more with dynamic lists. You won’t have such a specific list. You can send to faculty and it will check who faculty are. But we’ll need to define, what is faculty. Those definitions will have to be hammered out, but the tool is in place so we can make mass emailing a lot easier. For documentation, look at Lysts.duke.edu/sympa
Michael Gettes – For lots of the integration work, Sympa developers work with Internet2 so the origins come from higher ed. So they do the right mojo for enterprise integration.
Heather – One of nice things is that you may see it at other institutions, but it would look different. Everyone has their own style sheet. Duke’s style sheet is extremely popular. We have gotten kudos from around the world saying, we want to use that.
Molly – I used that for the first time. I know you don’t want to get into the issue of content, but one issue is the list names. Some of the names are misleading, and we may want to reserve certain names like “alerts” or something like that.
Heather – That involves huge overhead. As long as it’s not blatantly rude.
Tracy – How many are there and is it any different for what we do with web addresses, or should it be?
Heather – There are about 2,100 mailing lists supported by OIT.
Tracy – Created with what frequency?
Jeff – It’s wildly varying – sometimes 10 or 20 a week, sometimes weeks with none.
Question – What’s normal turnaround time for someone looking to create a list?
Heather – We haven’t changed the general agreement we have with Help Desk, which is five days.
Tim Poe – I have waited less than an hour.Molly – I have waited longer, but never more than 24 hours.
V. DukePass improvements -- Deb Johnson, director of Student Service Center, and Kevin Witte of OIT’s Office of Web Services
Deb – Last fall the new student mailing list got another look and became the new student communication group to reflect a new focus away from mailing information to new students. What we were looking at was new ways of communicating with them. As some of you may know, last year we just added a tab during the summer and the tab was just out there to anybody who went to DukePass. The tab just had a lot of links. We didn’t do a whole heavy promoting of it. This year we took the next step and leveraged the ability DukePass gives us. So OWS folks and Systems developed a new login for new students, which took some work in identifying who the new students were so only these students when they logged in would get this tab. The thing that was different was what we call the checklist. It directed them to DukePass, where they could go to do registration, phone service, cable TV, housing, and other lists. [Kevin shows checklist page on screen] We worked out a timeframe with the owners of the various sites during which messages would tell students when certain things like registration times would be open. It also lets them know when things have been completed. We’ve had a reduction in phone calls to different departments for people asking, “Did you get my form?” I found out that my parking permit was approved. The feedback from the owners and from the students was that this has been very helpful. I think this was a good next step for us to take in terms of bringing things together.
Kevin – The fun part was getting access to all of these systems. It helped to have a letter from the provost in our back pocket. It also helped that people were very cooperative – Auxiliary Services, Student Affairs, etc., essentially letting us poke a tunnel into their systems to query their systems and really using the portal in this one case as a portal, as an aggregator of information but also as a place to start where you’re trying to wind your way through the process. It’s good to have all these things together. It used to be printed in books, now we’re giving them a link to DukePass. We also can update it easier for when things change. We can change things on the fly. Students are none the wiser.
Deb – Students did show us one problem, that when multiple systems are being used, if one system has a problem, there has to be good communication so we’re not putting up wrong information. We had a couple of occasions when students pointed things out.
[Kevin shows site on screen.]
Graduate and professional schools have shown interest in the functionalities for their schools because their students are doing some of the same things. The other thing we are doing with the portal is that we’re changing the composition of the groups that are the advisory groups. We’re looking at resource utilization and prioritization. Also we have reconstituted the services group; it’s now the Portal Planning and Advisory Group, involving folks from around campus who are interested in the portal. They’re bringing ideas for us and also setting a vision of what we want to do with the portal.
John – Where are the students in this process?
Deb – We have an undergrad student advisory group and we have a graduate student advisory group. We haven’t done much with them since they aren’t here.
Comment – At our last meeting Elliott Wolf was here telling us that no one uses DukePass.
Deb – We have looked at the statistics and last year’s freshmen were consistently higher on a monthly basis, then there was a line going straight down for sophomores, juniors and seniors because it’s hard to change habits of people who’ve been here for three or four years. This year, every one of the incoming freshmen had logged in – maybe not to do things, but to check and see what had been done. We think if we get them early enough, before they develop their computer habits, and we actually develop their functionality, they will use it.
Kevin – It will be interesting to see whether DukePass has legs with this class once it becomes optional. To the extent that we’re giving students access to information, we will find out if it has legs. We’re trying to figure out how we can extend this model to the students to keep them coming back because we think we can provide really useful services for them.
Deb – Some departments have said they want to participate, but they don’t have a system. So it drives them to get a system.
Tracy – We do have some statistics that show use by 300 unique seniors, 466 juniors and 900 freshmen. It was clear that the trend was growing by class and it was clear these numbers could be quite different in a year or two.
Roger Loyd – What’s the plan for involving other schools? The Divinity school could use it.
Deb – It’s just getting started. It will be the portal planning group that will look at these kinds of things. If they say it’s a good thing, we will have to work through the requirements with the group.
Shailesh Chandrasekharan – What is the failure rate? If a no doesn’t become a yes?
Kevin – We had plenty of testing to make sure we were getting right answers to queries. What we have for that is when each system is down, we have a message. Usually that means saying something and providing a link to the website of that owner. That worked very well in practice.
Tracy – Is that to say you have a high degree of confidence that what you’re showing as yes or no is accurate?
Kevin – On the complete column [of the website], yes. If there was something unknown, it would give you a question mark and additional comments on the right with a link to that owner’s site.
Deb – Immunizations were a problem. We were taking the information out of the PeopleSoft system, so we needed three to four weeks to get information. That’s what you have to look at is if you have a disconnect between where the information is coming from and the site.
Kyle Johnson – Just as an aside, we had the lowest number of immunizations turned in. I think we have more than half of the immunization records not turned in.
Tracy – Presumably in the portal you can tie consequences to this, “You can’t do this because you haven’t completed this other thing.”
Kyle – We didn’t expect the unusually low number of forms turned in. If records aren’t complete my understanding is that at some point they are blocked at the registrar’s office. Eventually they’ll be asked to eave the dorm.
Molly – They’ll lose portal access and they won’t be able to check.
Deb – We can obtain data if they go to a tab, if we wanted to.
Kevin – I don’t think we’re analyzing statistics on how often they’re going to the Student Life tab and then going to a link from there.
Kyle – From our statistics, it’s less than 1 percent.
Kevin – Most people will look at DukeCard account balance, mail accounts, university announcements.Julian Lombardi – Web statistics should be able to answer those questions. Now we have things like Google. The notion of a portal is being eroded by these remarkable search capabilities.
VI. Collaborative tools review update -- Kevin Witte
Kevin – Molly [Tamarkin] led an effort at Tracy’s behest to evaluate the need for wikis and blogs, which we’re calling collaborative software. I think everyone recognizes that there are needs for both depending on situation. Last year they evaluated various requirements across divisions, a cross section but still small enough. The team recommended the university find a way to implement on an enterprise scale access to blogs and wikis. They also recommended particular technologies that might be suitable to employ on a large scale. Not all are designed for enterprise use. Based on recommendations from last year, what has changed in that period? What knowledge do we have from experience and what requirements have changed as a result of that lag?
A subset of the team has met twice to talk about this from tech standpoint. When we talk about wikis and blogs we talk about them as separate things. Wikis as truly collaborative things, blogs as more a kind of publishing tool, a category of software that’s not as much about collaboration as getting a message out and getting people a way to comment on that message. The needs from the preliminary meetings is that everyone agrees there’s more of a need for wikis than blogs. The folks who are on this team are for the most part technologists, so the focus has been on how to meet needs with technologies. It’s not clear that this team alone is a place to solve all our problems, nor is it a place to understand the entire institution’s requirements.
My understanding of one of the goals for today was to see if there is a good way to create a subcommittee of this group to be responsible for generating requirements for the tech team to put together suitable solutions. There have been conversations of who would be on that committee and how that would work with Molly’s group.
Mike Pickett – I don’t think we’ve gotten to the point where we’re ready to create a committee yet. Just to the point of talking about the tools
Molly Tamarkin – This space changes so rapidly. The speed with which Tim Poe’s group did his work this summer, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t use this then. If a wiki service is available, if it will become a web interface with web storage, it becomes that service and that has big implications for file space.
Kevin – In our use of wikis, folks who used to collaborate via email and storing files on a server somewhere were now using the wiki to do both. A wiki allows you to use file-based content and description content and lets you edit them on the fly. A lot of content that used to go on a Netware file server now goes on Confluence and isn’t hitting the Novell file server.
Molly – The exportability of that content, we didn’t consider that when we deployed this particular tool.
Julian – Another way to think abut wikis is that they’re documents that hold other documents. That leads to the possibility to actually have a wiki for one person, yourself, and it becomes your way of organizing your documents. It could be used by students to organize their work.
Tracy – Are wikis or blogs more interesting for faculty?
Lynne O’Brien – We put tools in for the spring semester. They were popular with faculty. Blogs tended to be replacements for writing assignments – you could write a paper or journal and a few people could comment on it. Wikis tended to be for group projects. They tended to use them for different reasons. I’m not sure one was more popular than another. There was one class where guy had more than 100 blogs and he wanted to have students’ papers online and assign one or two people to comment on it.
Julian – Lynne, is the availability of those wiki implementations restricted to the semester?
Lynne – They’re within the Blackboard site, so since we’ve never come up with a Blackboard retention policy I’m not sure how to answer that question. The specific tools for Blackboard are intended to be for the course. So do you want it to be just for one class or something that expands over time?
Mike – My sense was we were just basically collecting information at this point. Are there requirements we need to think about more broadly to help guide any enterprise decisions that have to be made? We don’t want to slow things down too much.
Lynne – It would be relatively easy to talk to faculty who’ve already used it to get their reaction. Rather than getting the perfect tool, maybe for course purposes there’s one thing that works and for other things another tool would work.
Molly – One thing the tech group was going to do, we can create a short list that says here’s the one that meets these criteria, then people could pick from the group that we know.
Kevin – Folks in the group had at least a year of deploying these tools in their own departments so figuring out these requirements has been relatively easy because most of these folks have experience.
David Jarmul – There are some considerations of what happens when this becomes public.
Kevin – The questions are the same for everyone’s html space, where we essentially give people enough rope. What’s our responsibility? Making sure people understand what the rules are.