Campus Computing News
By Dr. Maurice Leatherbury, Senior Director of Academic Computing
Internet 2 at UNT
The Information Resources Council voted at its December meeting to recommend that UNT join Internet 2.* Internet 2 is a collaborative effort by more than 130 U.S. universities to develop advanced Internet technologies and applications to support the research and education missions of higher education. Six of our peer institutions in Texas (the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, Rice University, Texas Tech University, and Southern Methodist University) are currently members although only UT, TAMU, UH, and Rice are actually connected to the network (Texas Tech has submitted a grant request for funding their connection.) In Texas, there is currently only one "GigaPOP" (Gigabit Point of Presence) at which universities can connect, located on the Rice University campus. We're in discussions with the founders of that GigaPOP to determine what the membership requirements and costs of using that service would be should we decide to join.
Membership in Internet 2 is managed by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID). It is important to note that membership in the organization does not automatically confer connectivity to the advanced network being developed by the I2 members: such connectivity must be applied for and funded separately. This month, UCAID will launch its advanced gigabit ethernet network entitled "Abilene," with which the Texas GigaPOP apparently will soon connect. It is also highly significant that the Internet 2 network will only connect its members and that the network will carry only research traffic between the participating institutions. Although the principal goal of Internet 2 is the development of new technologies to improve the performance of Internet traffic of all kinds, it will be several years before the "commodity Internet" (the commercial internet we now employ) will be connected to I2.
Costs will be a big factor in if, how, and when UNT will actually connect to the high-speed Internet 2 backbone because of the large expense of the data communications lines necessary to take advantage of the advanced network. For example, the port charge to connect to Abilene is about $140,000 per year and we have to get a line from Denton to Houston which could cost as much as $200,000 per year. For that reason, a group of faculty members, with Dr. Mark Rorvig of the School of Library and Information Sciences as the Principal Investigator and Dr. Armin Mikler of Computer Science as the co-PI, is writing an NSF "Connections to the Internet" grant proposal that could cover $350,000 of our expenses over a two-year period, if funded. Due at the end of January, 1999, the proposal will describe the research projects on campus that could benefit from high speed networking. Contact Dr. Rorvig (x2445) if you have anything to contribute to the proposal or if you have any questions about it.
UNT Considering New Microsoft Software Licensing Agreement
Microsoft announced a new software licensing plan for higher education in October, 1998, a plan that we're considering adopting at UNT. Microsoft's Campus Agreement would replace our current Select Agreement under which we purchase Microsoft products such as the Office suite, FrontPage, Windows 98 upgrades, and the Visual Studio suite of development products. The Campus Agreement, we project, would allow us to pay slightly less for the covered products than we have in the past, but in addition would cover all faculty and staff on campus without departments having to track and pay for each individual copy. We anticipate that the new agreement would be funded through chargebacks to departments based on their proportion of personnel at UNT.
An attractive feature of the Campus Agreement is a "work at home" right that allows faculty and staff to install the software on their home computers without having to pay anything extra as long as the software is installed on their machine at work. Please Note: Even if we do decide to enter the new agreement, it's unlikely that we'll have the new agreement in place before the beginning of the fall semester because of the legal, funding, and distribution issues that will have to be settled.