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ICC Meeting:

IFAS COMPUTER COORDINATORS
(ICC)

NOTES FROM April 13th 2007       REGULAR MEETING


A meeting of the ICC was held on Friday, April 13th, 2007. The meeting was chaired and called to order by Steve Lasley, at about 10:10 a.m. in the ICS conference room.

PRESENT: Sixteen members participated.
Remote participants: Bill Black, Mike Ryabin, Louise Ryan and Mitch Thompson.
On-site participants: David Bauldree, Benjamin Beach, Dennis Brown, Andrew Carey, Lance Cozart, Wayne Hyde, Dwight Jesseman, Winnie Lante, Steve Lasley, Chris Leopold, Kamin Miller, and Wendy Williams.

STREAMING AUDIO: available here

NOTES:


Agendas were distributed, but we were a little late in getting started because the setup for streaming wasn't begun early enough (though a thanks goes to Chris Leopold for handling that for us.) Steve used a portion of the waiting time to talk a bit about happenings and changes within our membership.

Report from the chairman

New members:

Steve congratulated Marion Douglas in his absence on his Superior Accomplishment award. Steve also pointed out that we have had three new members added to the ICC-L list since our last meeting. Mike Stewart joins us from the Program for Resource Efficient Communities. Mike had started there a few months back and it was "kind of a hectic transition". He was placed here with no documentation or information on the current network setup, server setup, with little to no documentation on how things had been configured there. He had been trying to make changes to an AD installation that he inherited and soon found out about UFAD from Erik Schmidt who referred him to Dan Cromer and then to Steve. Hopefully, having contact with other IFAS UFAD admins can help Mike come up-to-speed more easily and possibly migrate to UFAD. All are encouraged to welcome Mike and assist in whatever fashion they may.

Tom Kirby had requested IF-ADMx accounts for an OPS Tech, Luke Spreen, at FSHN, and Luke was consequently added to the ICC-L in order to keep him in touch with issues of concern to OU Admins. Steve has not yet had contact with Luke.

Also, we were pleased to welcome Lance Cozart who started recently with ICS. Lance was introduced to those attending and we hope Lance will continue to participate with us. He has been providing desktop and hardware support and will soon be learning about the details of OU Admin management within IFAS. Once he gets his IF-ADMx accounts, he is encouraged to check out the IT/SA Service Documentation (ufad\if-admn credentials required) for assistance on getting started with that.

On a sadder note, we said farewell to Mike Armstrong who is retiring. Mike has provided excellent and expert IT support to CREC over the last half-decade or so. Mike will be missed, and Steve passed around a card for the ICCers to sign and which he will forward on to Mike. If others wish to add their well-wishes you can email those to Steve for inclusion with the card or send those directly to Mike yourself if you wish. Mike had related to Steve that Allan Burrage and Gary Wilhite will each assume some pieces of his job description, with the "easy and/or frustrating bits to be doled out to a new hire who will enter as an IT-Intermediate". Mike wanted all to know that if "anyone knows of a prospect who would like to work in beautiful Lake Alfred on some pretty exciting stuff over the next couple of years, albeit at low wages, have him or her give Allan a call. The job opening should post soon." Mike also wanted Steve to pass on his wishes for success and riches to the members of the ICC, past and present, with his regrets for not showing up to do it in person. Thanks Mike; we hope retirement is good to you.

Recap since last meeting:

As per his usual procedure, Steve pointed folks to the notes of the last meeting, without going into any details.

Upcoming ITPAC meeting

Steve reported that the next ITPAC meeting will be May 3rd; that means we will have no more ICC meetings prior. Please let Steve know ASAP if anyone wishes any issues to be raised there on behalf of the ICC. Steve had noticed that Mike Conlon, Fedro Zazueta and Ron Thomas will be speaking there on the "Distance Education Council" and the "eLearning and Distance Education Task Force". Revamping the ITPAC membership is also on the agenda.

Policy

IT Governance sub-committee status report

Steve noted that Kyle Cavanaugh has been appointed to Senior Vice President for Administration, and that the CIO will report directly to him. Perhaps this change will get things going again on the UF IT restructuring project. We had believed that continuation of that was waiting on changes at the very top.

Recommendation: autogroups for *selected* roles

This item was not discussed but is being kept on the agenda for future consideration. It was noted that the basic role autogroups are now in place within UFAD.

Split DNS solution for UFAD problems

Apparently, no further movement has occurred on this matter since the issue was raised.

Support function checklist

Steve mentioned not having had the time to reply to Dan Cromer's request for feedback on this matter, though Dennis Brown reported sending along a few ideas--including the addition of telephone support. Steve mentioned that he would be more interested in providing input on a "Support Function Checklist" for central IT.

UF Calendar Project

Steve asked if everyone was aware of this project. Wendy Williams mentioned having attended one meeting and that their project goals are rather ambitious. They are planning a very large and detailed event database that may go even to the course level. Dwight Jesseman related that plans are to eventually query Exchange calendars from that system as well. Joe Spooner, former ICCer, is likely a good contact for those wishing to learn more about the project.

Projects

SharePoint Test Site

Steve reported that Diana Hagan has been making a push to finalize the SharePoint proposal by today and request funding from the ICS budget to support the project. Her interest is primarily directed to using that to meet our needs for a content management system for IFAS. Details of the Web Content Management system proposal are available on the SharePoint test server.

Ben Beach is concerned about coordination of this project across the various groups involved; he wants to make sure that the hardware used is available to and accessible by IT/SA for other purposes as well. SharePoint promises a good deal of utility for IFAS beyond content management and our implementation should be a joint effort managed by a team of people residing across various departments based on their particular area of expertise and their needs regarding system use and administration.

Wayne Hyde and Andrew Carey have been assisting in the hardware specification which will include an EqualLogic PS3600X or similar SAN to meet the considerable and sure-to-grow storage needs for this major project.

Steve wants to remind ICCers that the test site is available at http://my.ifas.ufl.edu and access is controlled via Gatorlink credentials. Ben has created a test anonymous access point as well at http://mg.ifas.ufl.edu. Please play with the site, but remember that this is a test system and understand that anything done there may go away at any time as the system is torn down and rebuilt to address various issues they might discover regarding its operation.

Steve asked about the FTE requirements. Chris Leopold mentioned that additions will certainly be necessary to his staff to support this. They are already greatly strapped for time and desperately need Jenny Brewer's old position filled even to meet current support expectations. Adding SharePoint would make the matter completely untenable without further staffing increasing beyond that as well. Unfortunately, the current tendency has not been to increase IT/SA staff levels and the ICC should lobby on their behalf so that administration realizes the critical and valuable nature of the support they provide and the importance of providing them the resources to do a good job.

Chris took this opportunity to announce that Matt Wilson had been hired as the new IFAS DBA. Matt will be starting on May 18th and will report directly to Dan Cromer. His priorities will lie with the software group and his skill set includes software development. Approximately half of his time will be devoted to SQL database management and the remainder will be spent on various software application development projects. Hopefully, Matt's talents can be put to use on the PeopleSoft BizTalk integration and on various other projects which have been discussed. Matt comes from the Division of Sponsored Research in Grinter Hall and is very well qualified for this position. While Chris is lobbying for Matt to be housed in Bldg 120, it is suspected that he will end up with the software group in Bldg 162.

Virtualization of Core Services

Steve asked how the fileserver redundancy project was progressing. Chris Leopold replied that they have purchased a MD1000 with 7TB of storage. They have created a virtualized "FILE03" server and will use DFS replication to copy the storage from if-srv-file02. Quotas will be problematic with this scheme though. Staging areas for the replication may not have the room they will require if quotas are in effect. Also coordination of quotas between the redundant systems would be unmanageable.

Wayne related that the long-term plan is to have two host machines for VMs connected to a SANS to provide redundancy and adequate storage to support our various services.

IFAS WebDAV implementation

As was the case last several meetings, Steve passed over discussion on this project because he is aware that no movement has occurred in getting this documented.

Vista TAP and Vista Deployment via SMS and WDS

There will apparently be little/no coordinated effort on this at the IFAS level due to staffing limitations. Andrew did mention that we have WDS implemented via our DHCP, but no images are available currently.

Steve reminded folks of the UF sponsored free Windows Vista Training for IT Professionals. "UF IT professionals are invited to the Reitz Union April 26th & 27th for a FREE, full 2-day intensive training session titled 'Vista Support for Support Professionals', presented by well-known industry expert Mark Minasi". See http://www.minasi.com/vista/vsupport.htm for complete details of Mark Minasi's program. Registration is required.

Steve also pointed out that we have a number of IT support folks around the state that cannot attend. He hopes that those who go will be willing to share what we learned--possibly via a peer-training videoconference. UF continues to forget that IT support is a state-wide matter for IFAS and we need to continue to lobby with central event coordinators so they take remote participation in consideration whenever possible for such events.

New IFAS IP Plan

Steve noted that this project is continuing, but completion continues to be pushed back by more pressing matters.

Move to IF-SRV-WEB

Mark is ill and was unable to attend the meeting. Steve related, and Chris Leopold confirmed, that Mark continues to make some "serious" progress on this project.

ICCers are reminded of the new "\\if-srv-web\website$\websitename.ifas.ufl.edu" UNC access route for anyone previously using FTP. WebDAV access can be requested for sites, but is not the default.

Mike Ryabin asked about alternatives to the FTP server he has been using to allow his users to communicate large files to collaborators who are outside the UF system and who will not have Gatorlink credentials. WebDAV to the IFAS web server would not handle this for such folks, so Mike was wondering what alternatives might be available since FTP is being discouraged and is not available on the IFAS web server. HTTP could be used for anonymous read only access, of course w/o using FTP. In the long-term. SharePoint will be our ultimate collaboration tool--even with those outside the UF organization.

Exit processes, NMB and permission removal

Prior exit procedure discussion. Progress on this is still pending. We remain where we have been for quite some time.

Listserv confirm settings

While this issue remains stagnate due to lack of resources to pursue, Dennis Brown had a question on listserv administration. He wanted to know how to go about getting a list set for "confirm". A remedy ticket to Scott Owens or Dan Cromer should get that done in general. However, if you are a list owner it is very easy to set this option yourself--via the ListSERV web interface.

Operations

Job Matrix Update status

Steve requested that this matrix be updated as soon as is feasible. His reason had to do specifically with assigning Remedy tickets. When entering a ticket on behalf of one of your users from the http://remedy.ifas.ufl.edu interface, one cannot assign to the "Help Desk" as a group. If you assign to a particular Help Desk member and they are busy elsewhere or out for some reason, then the ticket may not be handled rapidly. Dwight said that he thought Ed Steele had been doing a good job in monitoring and redirecting for Help Desk staff who were otherwise occupied, but Steve noted that he has had some delays due to assignment to Dan Christophy (for example) when Dan happened to be out. It would help everyone to know where to route various requests in the most efficient fashion for all involved.

  • Public folder file deletion policies and procedures status

    SharePoint should solve this problem eventually, but we will have to live with this for a while yet and the Public folder must be maintained and older materials removed. Chris is leaning towards moving all current files to a subfolder configured as read-only and notifying users to grab whatever they need from there within 30 days (for example) as it will be going away. New files would then follow the 3 day deletion policy for which notification is already in effect. Chris also feels, however, that there must be some sort of exemption for some folders to accommodate specific uses.

    Office 2007 issues

    After providing a GPO for easy installation of the Office Compatibility Toolkit, Andrew noticed that only 3 departments (besides ITSA) were using the compatibility pack GPO so far. While the low usage didn't hurt Andrew's feelings at all, he wondered what the reasons were for so few using that. Andrew related, "If it's because users really don't need it at this time, but may as adoption of office 2007 becomes more widespread, thatís one thing. But if it's because people don't know how to or are nervous about applying GPOs, I'd like to make sure they realize that I'm here and can help them with their AD related (and other) questions." Consequently, Steve asked for and Andrew provided a demo for the ICC on how he had implemented the Microsoft Office 2007 Compatibility Pack installation GPO and discussed how GPO installs work and how GPOs may be linked by OU Admins.

    Andrew covered the following topics:

    • Creating a GPO
      • How do I do it? (with GPMC)
        • How to install GPOs
        • Reference ICC documentation on installing GPMC (http://icc.ifas.ufl.edu/ITServiceDocs/AD/AdminSetup.htm ufad\if-admn credentials required for access)

          Andrew pointed folks to the above link for installing this on Windows XP. With Vista, the GPMC is already integrated. Andrew showed how to run and use that.

          He showed how to locate the UFAD GPO storage area within the GPMC and to create a new GPO using the IF-OU naming convention by right-clicking on the container and selecting "new".

          GPMC screenshot

      • Where to place files for a software distribution GPO (IFAS-Multi)

        Andrew created a package using an .msi installation file, having placed that file on the IFAS-Multi share that is replicated out to all the MPServers across the state.

        GPMC screenshot

    • Testing
      • Test in Virtual Machines
      • Andrew then showed how to link the GPO to a particular OU for testing. One great way of testing while minimizing consequences is to use VMs.

        GPMC screenshot

      • Test on Yourself
      • Test on Test users
    • Linking a GPO
    • Updating deployed software to new version

    Steve really appreciates Andrew providing this demo. If you wish to listen to the details, you can check out the streaming audio starting at about the 58 minute point.

    If you want to view a "similar" demo, Microsoft Technet has an easy-to-follow one on GPO-based software installation (see ADD-07 Demo 5: Deploying Software). The demo uses deployment of the .NET Framework 1.1 Update as its particular example. In UFAD, of course, we generally apply GPOs to machines rather than users as we have control over the OU structure on the machine side, but no so on the user side.

    Admin Helper Script and IE7

    Steve asked if this had been looked at yet, but it is still on a "todo" list.

    IFAS Remedy System

    Steve said he did not know where we were with this topic.

    Other Discussion

    Extension Symposium

    Marion Douglas had passed on a request from Dave Palmer regarding this upcoming Symposium on May 8th. Dave and Bill Black and will be teaching a class there on podcasting. Dave writes:

    Al Wysocki, the chair of our team, had reserved a computer 
    lab with 30 seats. For whatever reason, 73 people were allowed 
    to register. I passed out when I heard the news! Just kidding. 
    We'll need a number of techies to wander the audience helping 
    everyone when we begin to install the free audio editing program, 
    Audacity. Any suggestions on how to come up with the help?"
    One possibility is to hold a mini-training for the techies on the 
    Audacity program just before the class so they won't be caught 
    blind by the process and the questions. Millie found a room large 
    enough for us at the Museum of Natural History across the street 
    from the hotel. The class will be held on May 8th, the first day 
    of the Symposium from 9 - 12.
    Any thoughts on obtaining 20+ techies for 3-4 hours or so?
    

    If anyone in the ICC is interested in assisting, please contact Dave Palmer.

    Energy Efficiency and Computer usage

    Winnie noted that Dan Cromer, Joe Joyce and her chairman had all been in communication regarding energy savings from turning workstations off at night. Discussion ensued on related security and management concerns. This is clearly something that needs to be carefully considered before a general recommendation may be made.

     

    The meeting was adjourned a bit early at about 11:45am.