Meeting Minutes

March 7, 1997


MEMBERS PRESENT: Craig Berry, Paul Hons, Tim Christian, Chris Strauss, Maurice Leatherbury (Chair), Ginger Boone, Dallas Newell, Kelly Wood, Richard Harris, Robert Pierce, Rich Anderson, Abraham John, Bill Buntain, Cengiz Capan, Cyndie Harris, Sue Ellen Richey (Recording Secretary)

MEMBERS ABSENT: Jim Curry, Eric DuChemin, Mike Hatch, Mike Wright

The minutes of the February 21, 1997 meeting were approved as published.

Maurice Leatherbury reported for the Call Tracking System committee that the group has looked at two different systems, pricing for which range from $70,000-$140,000. The committee has been working very hard, meeting frequently, but at present have no recommendations to make. Discussion followed, during which Cengiz asked if the committee plans to decide on one centralized system for trouble calls. Tim Christian responded that the plan is to provide a system that will integrate with the various systems already in place and functioning. Tim further explained that there seem to be two views being put forth in the committee; one group seems to want an off-the-shelf package and the other wants an off-the-shelf package if it's affordable, but would like to produce an in-house system if it isn't affordable. Maurice commented that whatever is decided upon by this committee will test everyone's willingness to work together on a day-to-day basis. Cengiz asked if there is a model for actually getting the work done, rather than just looking at systems to record and track the problems. Maurice responded that he believes that the selection of a system, and decisions that will have to be made about what package to buy or develop will require the committee to look at work flow and procedures, as they look at the features of the software. Cengiz stressed that it would be best to decide first on how the distributed work will be done and then decide on a software package that fits that model. Cyndie Harris commented that the committee is looking at software packages that support the distributed model UNT already has in place. Cengiz said that it would be best to look at all the management models in existence and decide what works best, then pick the software product that fits that model best, keeping in mind that it is more important that the work get done than to have a software product that keeps track of it. Tim commented that one single management scheme might not scale well from a small unit to a larger unit. Tim also mentioned that there is a set of criteria for evaluation of the various software packages the committee is looking at, which has been approved by this Distributed Computing Support Management Team. Maurice confirmed that the issues this subcommittee is dealing with are difficult, but they are working very hard on them.

Mike Hatch has resigned as Chair of the Desktop OS Standardization Committee and Maurice said he has not appointed a new Chair at this time.

Eric DuChemin was not present to make a report on the Desktop Applications Standardization Committee, but Maurice stated that he believes that committee has not yet met.

Maurice reported having met with Chris Strauss to discuss the general issues involved with a system outage notification process. He still needs to meet with Blair Copeland, and needs to see what sort of backup system would be in effect if a primary one failed. Chris Strauss commented that preliminary discussions he has had with Blair revolved around establishing lists on the paging server that contain all of the persons who wish to be notified of a given system outage. A lot of notification is taking place directly from Blair with an automatic paging set-up. Chris said he needs to get the Help Desk set up on that automatic paging set up. Chris said the biggest problem automatic paging presents is overloading the paging company. If a message is sent to 50-100 pagers at the same time, it may take several hours to get the page to the last people on the list. In the discussion that followed it was suggested that there may be a web-based application available through which people could be notified of outages. Mike Maner commented that if the list of people to be paged doesn't get too long, he feels the paging company could handle it. Tim suggested using ManageWise to monitor systems. Several people mentioned having experienced delays in receiving pages. Tim reported that when he sends a page he send the same one to himself, at the same time, which enables him to see how long it takes for the person to receive the page he sent. Maurice said he is aware that the issue is not just how to get the message out to people about an outage, but how to keep ourselves informed. Tim suggested that in the interim it could be determined what systems should be monitored.

Bill Buntain asked Mike Maner to speak to the group about recent problems and their solutions. Mike reported that the Cisco 7000, which has been the main campus internet router, is scheduled to be taken out of service and used only as a back-up. At that time, a 7513 will become the main campus router. Recent problem with a card in the Cisco 7000 caused some downtime; even a replacement card caused problems until it too was replaced. He explained that what some users experienced was the inability to connect from off campus, and even connecting on-campus looked very slow. Connection through one of the University's T1 Internet links was lost at one point, and the telephone company could not find the problem. In addition, a Cisco AGS+ router located in GAB locked up completely, which when fixed cleared up some strange problems on the internet connection.

Bill Buntain reported that he had sent out a message to distributed computing support personnel to the effect that a department bringing up a DHCP server can cause problems in other parts of campus if it is not properly configured. Blair Copeland is working on a project that will revamp DNS services as well as provide a unified DHCP and position the University to provide Win-S and distributed paging services. This could solve some of the issues relative to the current DNS and paging services. For one thing, every server will have redundant connections.

Regarding Remote Access service, Bill explained that last semester, there were two Ascend boxes in Denton, one in Ft. Worth, and one in Dallas. The Ft. Worth one didn't have enough demand to leave a box there so they got some call-forwarding numbers from the 817 area code and call-forwarded them to the Dallas box. They have been converting all of the Ascend boxes for Digital Channel Service to Primary Rate Interface, which allows use of the same channels for ISDN. Two additional boxes have been brought up in Denton and ISDN is working on them. The boxes support both single and dual channels. Pricing structure is currently being considered in light of the characteristics of ISDN service usage. Also, the boxes support data compression. When the new system is stable the intention is to move the rotary number over to the new boxes, and this will increase the number of lines in Denton another 48 lines. With the other remaining boxes, Data Communications will be replacing all the free service so that there is only one technology supporting dial-in services. It was noted that these changes will result in all of the free lines becoming 33.6 capable. Bill invited committee members to visit Steve Rowell's office if they want to see the new service in operation. He stated that the work order is in to the phone company to make the switch; when that happens they can make the switch to the PRI service, hopefully right after Spring Break. In response to a question from Tim, Mike said that they are not ready to release IPX on the Ascend boxes yet, but that the Ascend boxes do support it.

Tim Christian reported that they have been set back in their roll-out because of a death in Sandy Burke's family, which has caused her to cancel some of her training classes. He expects this to extend the rollout to the first week of April.

Robert Pierce reported that Melanie Buchheit will be working on remote access to the CD Rom system in the library, with the hope of having it in production in the Fall. He explained that some of the delay in making the CD Rom system accessible has been due to legal issues with publishers. However, they do hope to have 600 CDs on line by December, 1997. Robert said that getting this system on line is a high priority for the Library. His staff is also working on database development and Robert said that with the increased staff he has now, things should move along pretty quickly.

Abraham Johns reported that Financial Aid is moving to the new building and he is busy working on that at the moment.

Ginger Boone reported that she is almost finished with LIS upgrades.

Paul Hons reported that he has brought up the first group of Win 95 users, and that it went fairly well. Paul discussed how he had solved a problem with installing Acrobat viewer.

Cyndie Harris reported having a problem with some networked printers. Several suggestions were offered to assist her with this problem in the future. She also reported that since upgrading to Win 95, it won't run with her January version of SAA Win, but will only run with the May version, which causes printer problems for her users.

Maurice announced that the Computing Center is close to having a Microsoft Select agreement. Bill Buntain continued that they have evaluated all the quotes and now just need to draft a purchase order. They have tried to bundle training and support into the agreement, training which would be available to Computing Center staff as well as staff of other areas. He said he would inform everyone when the contract is in place.

Bill also said he has been working on a web access product for use with GroupWise. They are not sure about the security issues involved with it, but it is accessible by GWW.UNT.edu and it requires the use of a password, which you set in your GroupWise mailbox.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.


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