Meeting Minutes

November 15, 1996

MEMBERS PRESENT: Paul Dworak, Mike Hatch, Tim Christian, Chris Strauss, Maurice Leatherbury (Chair), Ginger Boone, Cyndie Harris, Eric DuChemin, Sue Ellen Richey (Recording Secretary)

MEMBERS ABSENT: Rich Anderson, Robert Pierce, Abraham John, Cengiz Capan, Bill Buntain, Paul Hons, Jim Curry, Dallas Newell, Craig Berry, Phillip Chukwuma


The minutes of the November 1, 1996 meeting were approved with the following changes:

Delete the following sentence: "Bill Buntain announced that 3000 copies of Lotus Notes have been licensed."

There was no report from the Intel 32-bit Operating System Standardization sub-committee, or the Network Operating System Management sub-committee.

Chris Strauss reported that the Call Tracking System sub-committee has not met; however, they have installed Support Magic SQL in order to test it, but have had some problems with connectivity. When the problems are resolved they will proceed with the testing. Maurice commented that he has been contacted by Remedy and told them that we are working on selecting a help desk product; the sub-committee has not looked at Remedy. Chris commented that he has asked Bill Buntain to find any help desk applications that will run with Notes so the committee can begin looking at them.

Maurice reported that the Computing Center has received some of the Windows 95 upgrades; the full-version CDs have not yet arrived. Maurice encouraged those who have ordered the upgrades to come over to the Computing Center to pick them up as soon as the managers are notified that the products are in. The CDs will not include the service packs; those can be downloaded from the Internet. Chris said that all of the service packs, and all the patches after the service packs, are on software volume and documented on his web page.

Mike Wright reported that WinInstall has arrived; Mike Hatch will be communicating with everyone about that. DS Expert has been ordered, but has not yet come in.

Maurice said he had talked with Mike Maner about the DIR Internet connection. They believe the connections have been made at both ends by Southwestern Bell and GTE, but GTE has not yet notified them that it is ready. It should be up and running soon.

Paul Dworak, as Chair of the Standards & Cooperation Program Group, presented a draft proposal for a standardization and upgrade plan for the campus (see Attachment 1). He stressed the fact that the document at this stage is just a draft presented to this group to get input from them. Other proposals have been presented to the IRC in the past, but have not been successful. Paul explained that the S&C Program Group has tried to lay the plan out so specifically that there would be no doubt as to what they meant or how it worked. He went over the document with the committee explaining that the plan is based on several assumptions: 1) that the cost of computer hardware continues to go down; 2) that new technology can be acquired for about the same price as the old technology, when it was new; 3) that the cost of upgrading will remain fairly constant; 4) that computer hardware will remain viable for about three years; 5) that volume buying will save the University money; 6) that upgrades should be designed to provide hardware capable of running the applications and operating systems that faculty and staff must use; 7) that during the past year, several million dollars was spent on Intel based computer workstations from all sources of funds; and 8) that during the past year about $100,000 was spent maintaining platforms that are below current standards. Paul pointed out that this plan does not include labs.

Paul listed the benefits of the plan as 1) enabling faculty and staff to have current technology; 2) costing no more than current expenditures; 3) lowering the cost of technical support for old systems that have more hardware problems, which require more software and network support; 4) enabling all faculty and staff to use industry standard network products and applications; 5) simplifying troubleshooting; 6) improving purchasing power; and 7) enabling the resale of older hardware.

The recommendations being put forth in this plan are:

1) $3.0 Million be identified each year off the top from HEAF funds for computing hardware.

2) A departmental planning effort coordinated by Microcomputer Maintenance in conjunction with Network Managers and Department Heads be initiated during each spring to identify:

a) how many new workstations of each class need to be placed on inventory during the next four fiscal years to meet expected needs for faculty and staff;

b) which computers need to be upgraded to remain current in the subsequent fiscal year

Microcomputer Maintenance will supply a list of computers on the department's inventory.

3) Computer workstations to meet these needs be acquired by MMS and distributed to departments according to the acquisition plans (year 1 of the upgrade plan).

4) Microcomputer Maintenance be authorized to initiate memory and processor upgrades in years 2-4 of the upgrade plan, working with the Distributed Computer Support Managment Team, Network Managers, and the Computing Center to determine the upgrades that will best serve the application and operating system needs of the University.

5) Departments be allocated sufficient HEAF funds to meet the specialized computing needs that they articulate in their acquisition plans.

6) Microcomputer Maintenance will recover obsolete computers and take them off inventory.

There was discussion regarding the plan, during which the following points were made: 1) it was suggested that the cost of labor in upgrades should be figured into the cost analysis; 2) this plan will work if you have a network manager and a chair with a like mind; and 3) the controversial part of the plan is the fact that the HEAF monies will come off the top, meaning that departmental allocations will be reduced accordingly. The group also discussed the issue of server upgrades being included in this plan, and it was suggested that a server be defined as a machine serving a university-wide mission. Tim suggested that if included in the plan, servers could be shown on a separate line of the cost schedule. Paul suggested that the money saved in the upgrade of workstations could be used to upgrade servers.

Regarding the allocation of HEAF funds, Paul explained that even though the plan allows for the allocation for the upgrades to be made off the top of the HEAF money, since departments will be involved in the planning process the Provost will be able to make fair allocations, based on the individual departmental needs. Paul stated that ideally, the University will get to a point where a special allocation is made each year for computers. He further explained that the hope of the committee is to begin the planning process this spring; go through a 4-year time frame for planning; use those numbers to free money for next year and if flaws are discovered in the process, then it can be changed.

Maurice stated that he would post the draft proposal along with the minutes on the DCSMT Web site, explaining that it is being posted for the purpose of obtaining input, making it clear that it is just a draft proposal at this time. The committee is planning to present the proposal to the IRC at its December meeting, to be voted on at its January meeting, which should allow enough time to get it into the budget planning process in the spring.

Mike Wright spoke to the group regarding Windows NT server issues. Mike explained that previously NT servers were set up quickly because of the low cost of the software, without consideration for connectivity. The problem that has arisen is that the connectivity cost has increased nearly four-fold, software cost as well as maintenance cost has also increased. Mike spoke with Microsoft and found that with every server option that is available from Microsoft a license is required unless a license for the complete Back Office Suite is purchased. Plans need to be made on how to deal with NT servers, and access to those servers, and still keep the cost down. Cost factors, by comparison, as of March of 1996, for 50-user server license for Novell with maintenance included would be $6,044. The same license for NT would be $1,803. If the whole Back Office Suite were licensed, it would cost $5,111. A 1000-user version license for Novell with maintenance is $58,074.00; whereas, Back Office is $80,161.00, but that includes a 5-suite program plus access to the server itself. Mike said it is important to resolve some of these server issues on how to integrate NT 4 workstations with NT 4 servers with etware servers, through the routers so that there is an overall scheme of connectivity laid out in advance. Mike cautioned that the legal issues of licensing the servers are complex and care should be taken to make sure UNT is operating within the law. Tim mentioned that there are now 111 servers across campus.

Mike Wright also addressed the issue of domains saying that UNT needs to make sure that the NT environment is set up such that it will be a fairly easy transition into NDS or something X.500 compatible. If there are too many small domains, it will be very difficult to integrate them. Mike suggested that either a committee be formed or this group decree how the NT environment should be set up so that domains can be limited to only 3 or 4 types, such as an administrative domain, academic domain, lab domain, etc.

Maurice said that the committee can continue this discussion at its next meeting, which will be on December 6th.

The meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

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