Meeting Minutes

July 19, 1996

MEMBERS PRESENT: Paul Dworak, Bruce Pollock, Abraham John, Craig Berry, Bill Buntain, Tim Christian, Paul Hons, Ginger Boone, Jim Curry, Barbara Hall, Cengiz Capan, Dallas Newell, Cyndie Harris, Robert Pierce, Eric DuChemin, Chris Strauss, Maurice Leatherbury (Chair).

GUESTS PRESENT: Ovee Rahman, Richard Harris

This group was formed as a result of a committee that Bill Buntain headed that began in January, 1996 as an ad hoc committee under the IRC which was charged with looking at issues relating to support of computing across campus and the relationship between central and distributed support areas. The committee met several times and reported to the IRC, recommending the addition of several new positions to bring the level of computing support up to roughly 100 users and machines to one support person. The Chancellor and Vice Presidents approved that recommendation and there are 12 new positions for the support of computing, to be available in the Fall. Another outcome was the recommendation that a support management group be formed, which was approved by the IRC; therefore, the Provost instructed Maurice to form this team, the charge of which is primarily to foster cooperation and coordination of computing support across campus. Up to now, everyone has seemed to operate in isolation and Maurice expressed his hope that this group can work to support one another in the effort to provide computing support to the users on this campus. This team should be an "action" team, rather than a committee that makes recommendations; getting approval from the IRC only on major, controversial issues.

Cengiz remarked that working alone has not worked, and that he is encouraged by the formation of this team. He expressed his hope that everyone will now work together in this effort to support distributed computing.

Tim Christian asked if there should be a representative of Telecommunications on this group. Bill Buntain explained that when issues arise that involve them, they will most certainly be invited to attend the meetings.

It was agreed that regular meetings of this team will be held on Friday afternoons. Considering some of the pressing issues that need to be dealt with, such as standardization of desktop configuration operating system, software applications, desktop management software, network management packages and software, and call-tracking systems, it was agreed that the group will meet on the first and third Friday of every month, with the next meeting being on Friday, August 2, 1996, in ISB 204 until otherwise notified.

The group discussed operating systems for desktop computers. Maurice commented that it appears that DOS and Windows 3.1 are fast becoming obsolete. In a poll of the group, it seemed that most units are using Windows 3.1, although some have tried Windows '95. Chris Strauss reported that in the Help Desk, they have nearly every application being used on campus running under Windows '95. Their direction for Fall is to install Novell's Client 32.

Bill Buntain commented that the ad hoc committee's perspective was a decision on desktop standardization coupled with a plan for a desktop management platform. Their hope was to establish a strategic plan on how to roll out the desktop standardization on a campus-wide basis.

Maurice noted that with so much diversity of platforms across campus, software compatibility with applications that people are using is the issue that this group needs to come to some agreement on.

A memo from Paul Schlieve was distributed, which expressed objections to specifying a standard for desktop operating system (see Attachment #2). Maurice acknowledged that it would not be practical to mandate that every Intel machine on campus run a particular operating system, because in an academic environment experimentation with different computing systems is necessary. The question is what operating system is going to be supported, and what we can afford to support. Paul Dworak commented that rather than establishing a standard operating system, a standard "for" an operating system could be established, so that there is a standard way of implementing an operating system for whatever system is being used. He pointed out that by the time the campus standardized on one particular operating system, there would be a newer, better one on the market. In the discussion, it was pointed out that caution needs to be heeded in making any changes in operating systems because of the training factor involved in changing the way people do their work. Maurice suggested that smaller sub-committees be formed to study these individual issues and bring summarizations of the problems to be addressed in the larger group. For the desktop operating system and standardization of desktop management software, he appointed the following persons to serve on a sub-committee: Barbara Hall (Chair), Mike Hatch, Andy Kreiling, Chris Strauss, Robert Pierce, Paul Dworak, and Bruce Pollock. This sub-committee should address the questions regarding standardizing on a 32-bit Intel operating system in a desktop environment, taking into consideration the issue of compatibility of software that has to run in the various administrative areas.

Network Management Software selection is an issue that was addressed by the ad hoc distributed support committee, and they identified some questions that this team needs to answer, with regard to what software should be adopted campus wide to provide support of the operating systems, setting NDS standards, server management tools, back-up software - actually anything that relates to the management of the network operating system as opposed to the desktop.

Bill Buntain suggested that a time line be set for each sub-committee to deal with the issue assigned to it.

Maurice asked the following people to work on the issue of support for operating systems, setting NDS standards, etc. (as stated above): Tim Christian (Chair), Ovee Rahman, Abraham John, Phil Chukwuma. Maurice asked this sub-committee to report back by the August 2 meeting.

Maurice presented the issue of call tracking as a problem that also needs to be dealt with right away. There seems to be a proliferation of solutions in use now and a standardized system would be a distinct advantage for users in reporting problems. Cengiz commented that it would be important to address establishing a model for call tracking and the systems around it, including policies and procedures, response time, etc. Maurice asked the following people to work on this issue: Chris Strauss, Cyndie Harris, Jan Brothers, Rich Anderson, Paul Hons (Chair), Jim Curry, Tim Christian.

Standardization of the desktop application software is another issue that needs to be addressed. This is an area that will be very important to users so it will be good to have wide representation on this sub-committee. Maurice asked Cengiz Capan to Chair a sub-committee to address this issue, along with the following members: Sandy Burke, Dallas Newell, Craig Berry, Eric DuChemin, Cyndie Harris, Christine Pouncey, Bruce Pollock, Abraham John, Paul Hons, John Bradley, Ginger Boone. Questions this sub-committee will need to deal with are: Is it desirable to standardize on desktop application software? Is it feasible? And, if so, the sub-committee will set priorities of support.

Maurice asked each of the sub-committees to return in two weeks with a progress report. He stated that he is setting up a web-site for this group for meeting agendas, member lists, etc. Maurice left it up to the sub-committee chairs as to whether or not they keep minutes of their meetings.

Cengiz Capan commented that this group should spend time in training as managers. It is important to look at what works, how users are being dealt with, and spend time in exchanging ideas on how to improve managerial performance. Chris Strauss suggested that a future problem will be dealing with cross-platforms, and providing support personnel for that purpose. Maurice confirmed that it will be increasingly important to share expertise between departments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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