IFAS COMPUTER COORDINATORS
NOTES FROM May 13th 2005 REGULAR MEETING
A meeting of the ICC was held on Friday, May 13th, 2005. The meeting was chaired and called to order by Steve Lasley, at 10:03 a.m. in the ICS conference room.
PRESENT: Nineteen members participated. Remote participants: Nancy Johnson and Mike Ryabin. On-site participants: David Bauldree, Dennis Brown, Dan Cromer, Marion Douglas, Kevin Hill, Marc Hoit, Chris Hughes, Dwight Jesseman, Winnie Lante, Steve Lasley, Chris Leopold, David McKinney, Richard Phelan, Mark Ross, John Sawyer, Joe Spooner and Jennifer Xu.
STREAMING AUDIO: here
Agendas were distributed and the meeting was called to order by Steve Lasley at 10:03 am.
There were four new ICC member members: Mike Ryabin, Zahid Khan, Rick Stone, and Ron Thomas.
Mike Ryabin on Mike Ryabin:
"Thanks for your welcome message! I'm glad to become a part of the IFAS IT team and will do my best to fill Jack's big shoes when he leaves. Meanwhile, I am trying to familiarize with the systems and get as much info as I could from Jack and Mike Alles whose responsibilities I will be taking over as well.
My background is somewhat similar to Jack's. I have a degree in science and math, my studies included computers, programming, electronics, and other good stuff... Working for a while in the engineering field, I was implementing computerized methods and tools wherever I wasn't barred from doing so. I also have done a good bit of work with AS400 based ERP systems, both as a power user and as a database analyst for various system projects. Later I switched to IT full time continuing support of AS400 projects along with local site administration on the company WAN (NT4/Exchange/Print shares) and user support. In 2000-2001 I worked on a W2K network rollout team to implement AD and provide helpdesk support for the three local sites (OU's) in the Phila. area. I also supported implementation of Citrix metaframe, configured Citrix clients (ICA and web), applications access via W2K terminal services, Exchange/Outlook and Lotus Notes email, and more. Along with that, I worked part-time for a local office of a la
rge environmental project firm supporting helpdesk, desktop and network services, Lotus Notes email, shared resources, server backups, etc. After moving to Fla in 2003 I did similar work on a contract basis for corporate, small business and private clients. I'm looking forward to apply my knowledge and skills in the IFAS/UF computer operations and learn new technology as it comes along."
Zahid Khan on Zahid Khan:
"I am the IT/Video person here at the Plant City campus. I have been here since the beginning of February, so I am still somewhat of a newbie, but I am getting more and more comfortable here. I have been working with Chris Fooshee a lot, and he has trained me well. As for my interests, I am finding that network admin type work is what I am interested in. I hope to gain more knowledge of this area with this position."
Rick Stone on Rick Stone:
"Iím a student in the masters program for Decision and Information Sciences, and my undergrad is in MIS. I was hired to work part-time in the SNRE main office as an IT specialist, replacing another student from the MSDIS program who just graduated.
When hired, I was told that my role would be to do web design work, manage a listserv, set up Exchange Server accounts, and basically manage the computer operations in the office. While Iíd never used Exchange Server, Iíve had a networking course and have played around with AD, and I have books on Exchange Server, so I thought it would be fairly easy to handle.
The student I was replacing [...] failed to train me or set me up with the permissions I needed. So I started the job on Monday and found that I couldnít really do anything because I had no access to the shared drives, had no permissions to add users or mailboxes in AD, etc. Additionally, we have a new director, Dr. Stephen Mulkey, who also started working on Monday. He wanted me to get him set up, which I couldnít do since I couldnít use the system myself.
So itís been a bit difficult so far. Yesterday Chris Hughes set me up with an administrative account, so I was able to assign myself to the necessary groups, but I still canít access all the drives I need. It has me sweating because Iím a bit of a perfectionist and I feel like an idiot here thus far. I donít claim to be an IT expert, but I have a cumulative 4.0 undergrad and a 3.95 graduate GPA, so I can learn fairly well, but Iíve been shooting in the dark here. I also feel fairly isolated because Iím the only IT guy over here, so itís not like I can easily consult someone else. Iím going to have to get in touch with the IFAS help desk with some of this stuff, but I wanted to give it my best shot setting things up on my own because I donít like to waste peoplesí time.
If you know someone that I might be able to consult, or who could act as a mentor until I get on my feet here, Iíd appreciate it if you could introduce me. This job is important to me and I want to do the best work possible."
Steve failed to ask Ron for his bio, but Ron probably needs no introduction to most of you. He has worked with ICS for quite some time as the coordinator of distance education, but only recently was he subscribed to the ICC-L. Ron takes care of our distance ed hub facilities in McCarty Hall and is an important component of the IFAS videoconferencing taskforce.
We would like to welcome Ron and the others to our little group and hope they all choose to participate. We also hope that Rick and the other newcomers know that assistance is no further away than the ICC-L and we will all do what we can to assist them in getting up and running.
On the out-going side: Paul Falor has left SNRE and will be working in Atlanta for KPMG, LLP in the security and intrusion audit section. Cheryl Bearden has left IFAS/FAS for RGP, Research and Graduate Programs.
A visit with Marc Hoit
Steve gave our honored guest, Marc Hoit, a very informal introduction. Marc is UF's over-all administrator of IT, serving as the Associate Provost for Information Technology. He came to our meeting out of an interest in IFAS IT issues and we appreciated the opportunity to share those with him and hear his perspective on where UF is headed with IT.
Marc began with a brief introduction of who he is and where he thinks UF is headed with IT. He has been at UF with the Civil and Coastal Engineering Department since 1984 and is currently a Professor in that department; his specialty is Computational Mechanics with a keen interest in bridge building (as in spanning terrain). While working in administration, Marc is still involved in that field having just returned from Alaska after giving a 3 day workshop on how to design bridges. Marc has served as the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering here and more recently was heading the student systems portion of the PeopleSoft/Bridges ERP project. His 6 month stint there was rather abruptly halted when that project was put on indefinite hold due to the general poor reaction on campus to the rest of the PeopleSoft project. He moved quickly from there into his current interim position and has been in this job since December 1st.
The budget picture
Marc stated that IT at UF is a very complicated affair and that meetings such as this one help him learn more about various aspects of that. He related that funding is his biggest headache. Just a short while ago the budget picture seemed very grim, but that has recently turned around and the budget for UF looks rosy again currently. It is not clear how that will translate directly to IT funding, but things do look good for getting us through the coming year. Marc has a couple of major funding concerns in regards to CNS and AT. Both of these organizations are seeing major drops in revenues totaling millions of dollars which they brought into UF from outside through providing services that are being dropped or curtailed. Those had been subsidizing many IT facilities and projects in the past and new sources of revenue will have to be found to replace those.
In amongst introductions from the ICC members, Marc talked a bit about the UFAD project, stating he understood that it was very important to IFAS and the university in general. Marc sees UFAD as a major focus on campus and the future of what we are doing. The goal is to move all campus onto AD, getting CIRCA, the libraries, and every student login to look identical no matter which computer you are on. Logon and access security throughout UF is planned to be integrated into AD wherever possible.
Florida Lambda Rail
In addition to UFAD, Marc also wanted to speak a bit about the Florida Lambda Rail Project which is now active and carrying all our traffic. He feels that this project has the potential to provide a huge benefit to IFAS with its thirty-one 10 GB channels around the state. Those channels can be used for the cost of buying the equipment; as example of that cost Marc said that it would be only about $30K to get a 10GB connection between Gainesville and Jacksonville for 5 years. The difficult part is the local loop piece to connect into FLR, but UF is trying to get a state-wide provider for that at a unified per-mile price. All participating institutions would be available as locations to hook into this system with no additional charge and this might help IFAS lower costs for many of our remote connections. Dan Cromer, Acting Director of IFAS IT, saw this as a possibility for improving the throughput of our connections as well.
The importance of UFAD to IFAS
At Steve's urging, Kevin Hill, Chairman of the ICC-AD Subcommittee, related a bit of background on the importance of UFAD to IFAS. Kevin told how we have been working on our AD project for three years, beginning prior to Mike Conlin's effort in committing Bridges resources to getting UFAD started. At one point, we were prepared to build an AD infrastructure for UF at the IFAS level that the rest of UF might join down-the-road. When it was clear that UF was going to launch AD, we joined our efforts with those of George Bryan and Mike Kanofsky to work together towards a broader UFAD structure. We were involved in the creation of the UFAD Charter and worked with them to see that our needs would be met. Unfortunately, the support levels promised by the charter have not been met--not due to lack of effort on the part of George and Mike.
Our concerns now boil down to the fact that UFAD is currently inadequately funded and staffed, and is limited by the distributed administration of the project. At this time, the UFAD project lead position is with Bridges, while the AD operations position is with Open-Systems. While this administrative model was convenient and instrumental in getting the project initiated, we feel that UFAD would benefit greatly if the project were unified administratively. Therefore, we recommend that the UFAD Project Group be consolidated into a single separate budgetary unit and expanded with sufficient FTE to adequately meet the service needs of UFAD.
Marc Hoit responded by saying he is aware that we need another person in UFAD at the very least. The problem getting that done had to do with the budget situation, which prior to now had looked quite bad. It was thought a person might have to be reassigned internally to meet this need--although Marc said that anyone reassigned there would be someone with the skills to handle the situation. With the improved budget situation, Marc now expects to be able to move forward with a new hire fairly rapidly--hopefully getting the authorization approved within the next four weeks. Marc also said he could work on the organizational issues without having to wait on budget details.
Chris Hughes, IT/SA AD lead, asked if the additional staff was to address adding new projects to AD or to address current maintenance needs. If it was the former, we don't feel the situation would be improved. Chris also related that there has been a consistent problem with them being able to order equipment. By the time purchase requests worked their way through the UF system, the original quotes have expired and the process must be started again. This has caused significant problems for IFAS.
Marc responded that the difficulty is that UFAD started as being part of Bridges and the PeopleSoft budget is controlled over in Finance and Administration. Marc said he will have to figure out how to get that separated. Dan Cromer concurred that it might be best to have UFAD as a separate entity under Marc's office so that such issues didn't get lost in the bigger PeopleSoft issues. Chris Hughes suggested it might makes sense to operate UFAD as part of CNS operations--the concern there is whether it would get the budget it needs since CNS is also having budgeting problems.
At this point, Dan Cromer asked if Marc could give a brief overview of the current UF IT organizational structure. Tim Fitzpatrick runs CNS and reports to Marc, as does Fedro Zazueta of Academic Technology and Mike Conlon who runs the Bridges infrastructure and who is currently managing the AD project. Marc doubts that funding for the main Bridges project will ever come through his office, although he questions why since it seems like an IT project and not a Finance and Administration project. A new Provost search is going on and there is a lot waiting on that decision to see how Marc's office is run. There is a major decision to be made as to what the position Marc is in ends up being. Many believe it should be a Vice Presidential position so it has a reporting line that cuts across all three of the major colleges. Some people think that it should not be that high level of a position and that it is just plumbing--those feel it should be just a Director's level position. Marc is against it being a Director's level position, feeling that this would cause a split that would move us backward rather than forward with UF IT. This was apparently the entering position of our new UF President, but Marc believes Dr. Machen may have been swayed recently and might be either leaning the other direction or be sitting on the fence with regards to this decision. He mentioned that Dan Cromer has a good role in seeing to it that the IFAS Senior VP supports Marc's office being at the VP level. The current interim Provost is in favor of the higher level positioning.
Using videoconferencing for UF IT events
Dan Cromer related that Jimmy Cheek, our Senior VP, would like to see IFAS and UF as a flagship to be known nationally for its innovative use of videconferencing in supporting the various roles we play. He would like to see UF recognize this goal. It is a big effort that Dan would like Marc to be aware of and to help us as much as he was able along those lines. Marc agreed about the growing importance of distance learning and videoconference and acknowledged IFAS's leadership role in that. The problem, again, is funding. This cannot be done via a technology fee for students--the legislature will not allow that; this leaves the question of where will the funds come from? The good news is that we the legislature does allow a distance learning fee; beginning this Fall, such an extra fee will be added on every credit hour for every course that is 100% non-classroom based. That will generate the Vista system support funds, but the other side of this is that equipment used only partially for distance learning must be carefully tracked so the correct percentage of its cost can be allocated to such fees. We need to find a funding model that works. Marc mentioned that moving to the wallplate would help with the funding in this regard in that videoconferencing could then just be added on as an additional cost overhead to units wishing it. The other extreme is paying for everything off the top. The problem there is that not all units wish the same level of services and would therefore resist moving to such a model.
Steve mentioned that what he would like to see, in regards to videoconferencing, would be for those running UF IT events to keep in mind our state-wide IT support personnel and to offer remote participation in those. This would include events such as Peer2Peer Workshops, UF IT Orientation Training for New IT Employees, ITSA days, and other special events such as the recent overview of the new UF Information Technology (IT) Security Regulations. Our remote participants often feel disenfranchised when events requiring a visit to campus are announced. We have had some success in getting such programs streamed and/or stored for later access, but the opportunity for truly interactive remote participation via videoconferencing has not yet been offered. Dan Cromer has indicated that IFAS would cooperate in providing its resources to assist in such efforts. Marc Hoit indicated that he agreed and thought this would be an easy matter to fix.
UF IT cooperation with IFAS IT
Steve then introduced the general topic of IT cooperation between UF and IFAS, asking Chris Hughes to detail some of the issues which he has run into in trying to get our own IT organization into shape since joining UFAD. One topic mentioned in this introduction was the issue of handling exit procedures, including permissions removal and e-mail forwarding. Dr. Hoit told the group that Mike Conlon has a major account management project in the works which is separate from AD, but has consequences for that system. Based on your role, a procedure is being developed for automatically adding and removing people from the directory and AD. Marc wants to move to AD for role-based security with all our peripheral systems and services instead of just using Gatorlink.
Chris Hughes related that we can't get access to the relationship API to automate those portions of our processes relating to IFAS IT needs (specifically the Network Managed By relationship upon which user placement within UFAD is controlled). Nor can we get into the Gatorlink system to set forwards so that when a person leaves IFAS we can assure that their Gatorlink account no longer can forward to our system--something that would create loops in our respective e-mail systems. In response, Marc said that granting access to UF APIs was a security issue; but Chris countered by mentioning that we already have the access--the problem is that the access is manual. Marc asked Chris if the account management project wouldn't take care of these matters and Chris responded that it would not. That project only handles the relocation of user accounts--it does not handle the matter of access permissions which are still left in place on various resources. When an account moves out of IFAS, the permissions remain. In the past, when IFAS wasn't so integrated with UF, we would have simply disabled or removed the account. Now we don't have that luxury. We need to develop a way of handling those, and the potential widespread distribution of access permissions requires an automated, IFAS controlled solution to be effective and manageable. We are getting resistance from UF in tapping into their systems (even for read access) to allow us to build the processes which we require.
Marc said that a process is definitely needed, but that matter of where that process is handled--at UF or at IFAS--is not so clear. Dan Cromer agreed that this whole matter might best be handled at the UF level since we are not the only unit that will have these issues.
Chris Hughes then mentioned that our ability to have input into the UF decisions on these sorts of matters has been extremely limited, and gave several examples. Marc said that there is now an ITAC-AD committee (although it has not yet met) and that IFAS will have a representative on that. Although Marc said someone from IFAS had been invited to sit on that committee, no one seemed to know who the IFAS member would be and Marc was going to look into that. (Note from future: Dan Cromer is the IFAS representative on this committee.) We are hopeful that this committee will provide IFAS the needed improved means for having input into such decisions.
Chris asked if there had been any progress on the Microsoft Campus Agreement for students. Marc said that the problem with that is funding. Class fees are not an option because of how they must be tied to actual usage; they have looked at many options--even considering making a 1-hour computer use course mandatory for this purpose. Right now there is no other way to get that done except by appealing to the student government to support doing that within their own funding program, and Marc will be meeting with them shortly about that. Chris pointed out that students are currently using licenses under a 1-year deferral by Microsoft. When the annual renewal comes up January 1st, something has to be done or we will have to remove student access to our systems--and that is something rather untenable. There seems to be a lack of recognition of this problem at the UF level, as the common assumption has been that licenses are tied to UF computers so that students are covered when using those. That is not the case. IFAS has an additional problem in figuring out how to handle licensing for volunteer groups such as the folks in our large Master Gardener program. We need to be able to license those on the basis of the number that might be using our facilities at any one time, as we cannot afford to license them all considering the limited nature of both their usage of our systems and tenure within the program. Chris Hughes is currently working with our MS representative, Marie Tosi. Chris said he would relay what he found to Marc.
Marc had related that UF funding is currently focused not on IT, but rather on ways to move UF into a "top 10" status as a university. Mark Ross commented that he didn't see the point of attracting top professionals to work in a situation where the IT infrastructure was crumbing, as they wouldn't stay long.
Report from the May ITPAC meeting
At this point Steve thanked Dr. Hoit, apologized for having to move on in the agenda, and assured him that he was most welcome to stay and hear more of our issues. The first of those was a report on what had transpired at the May ITPAC meeting. Steve mentioned that the most important happenings were the announcement of two taskforces: the IFAS Videoconferencing Committee and the Information Technology Task Force. Steve pointed folks to the ICC notes on ITPAC for further details. Joe Spooner, chairman of the ICC IFAS IT Charter subcommittee, is on the IT Taskforce and will, hopefully, be our main conduit for input to and feedback from that important committee; we have other ICC members on the committee as well, so we should be well represented. Joe said that the first meeting will be next Thursday and that they will focus first on the issue of the IFAS web presence--a matter which will likely consume most of their first couple of meetings. This is at least the 3rd attempt, of which Joe is aware, to address the issue. Jack Battenfield has apparently been asking for input on this issue and is expected to be the driving force behind this portion of the committee's charge. Videoconferencing is also quite high on the agenda there at the urging of our Senior VP, Jimmy Cheek.
Progress on standing issues
Microsoft support for IFAS
Chris Hughes reported that a recent issue has made it clear that we may not use UFADís Premier Contract for issues not directly related to AD and the UFAD hardware; currently we must pay $249 an incident through Professional Support Services. Chris received an e-mail to that effect from Microsoft. We must now consider readdressing the issue, as recommended by the ICC but passed over by ITPAC. Marc Hoit asked whether MS support was something that might be pooled at the UF level in a cost effective manner. Marc said that he would have this added to the list of issues that the UF software licensing service considered on behalf of UF.
Status of ICC and ITPAC recommendations on standardizing IFAS e-mail addresses
Steve again referring members to the May ITPAC meeting notes for more details on this issue. Mark Ross asked for some clarification on that and some details, which are mostly covered in the aforementioned notes, were briefly discussed. Marc Hoit offered that a solution to our e-mail forwarding issues could be implemented at the UF level via role change procedures. As people moved into an organization, a default mailserver could be set specific to the particular organization; upon leaving, the process could assure that forwarding back to the previous organization was not permitted. This would be highly useful to any unit in UFAD, and we were quite pleased to hear Dr. Hoit expressing his belief that this could be implemented.
Marc mentioned that discussion has begun on the issue of whether we should apply the upcoming Gatorlink Student E-mail Forwarding Policy to everyone. The ICC agreed that, considering the unreliability of e-mail delivery associated with allowing forwarding to outside accounts, it makes sense to extend this policy to all.
Centralized Office Installation
Steve asked John Sawyer about the status of our Office Administrative Install and Local Installation Points. The only feedback John has received on this is that it works great. John says that it can be considered in production now. The only thing that has been holding the announcement back is the finishing of the documentation--especially the details of how to recreate the configuration as John has it now in place. John says he has about half of that complete. Steve commented that he uses the Local Installation Point and really likes that the patches can be kept up-to-date there so an additional update is not necessary after an initial install. Unfortunately, this is a campus-only solution for now, because we currently lack the diskspace on the remote multi-purpose servers to support remote repositories.
Dan Cromer commented to Dr. Hoit that this is the sort of thing that really should be done at the UF level. It would nice to have a cooperative arrangement among various IT groups at UF whereby, if one developed something nice that was appropriate for wider dissemination, that we would have central staff and facilities to where those could be transferred for use by all. Such coordination could provide a synergy among our units. Marc Hoit said he is already involved in trying to do something like this for web development and that he could see where it might be useful in other situations--in a broader context.
Migrating all IFAS subnets to private IPs
Exploration of this topic was mostly postponed due to Chris Leopold having left early. Mark Ross was concerned that Macintoshes in his department which he has on WIPA would have difficulties accessing printers on private IP. He was assured by John Sawyer and others that this shouldn't be a problem. Dan Cromer added in the comment that we need to have public IP numbers for Polycom units. That has been anticipated. Desktop videoconferencing was also briefly discussed in this context. Marc Hoit was also filled in on issues we have had with doing videoconferencing plus content through UF's Radvision MCU within our IFAS videoconferencing system. Steve mentioned that Polcom has a new product, the QSX, which allows users to "instantly share a live view of a computer screen with remote locations, simply by dialing a Polycom conference phone". Those units are about $1600 retail. Steve mentioned that this highlights one of his concerns with this entire affair. The available equipment changes so rapidly and it costs so much initially, that we are constantly in danger of having out-of-date facilities.
Joe Spooner mentioned that basic videoconferencing is not very useful for teachers until they can tie it into a third party product. The trend is moving toward Macromedia Breeze and/or Live Communications Server. These are technologies that support much better remote presentation and remote learning capabilities than does plain videoconferencing alone.
IFAS Remedy trouble ticket system
Steve asked about the status of the Remedy trouble ticket system for IFAS. Dan Cromer said that he thinks it is "working fine". The first thing he wants to do is have everyone in the ICC go into the client application as a user and submit tickets and see how it works. Steve didn't think any ICCers would get much from doing that unless they had requested from Dan Christophy that they be granted access to the support application interface where they can see and follow the ticket details. Few have done so currently, but all are encouraged to do so.
We pulled up http://support.ifas.ufl.edu and various folks commented on the organization of that page. It was suggested that the interface was too busy and that the core details of contact information and problem discription need to be at the top. The sectioned-off radio buttons were believed to be confusing, both due to the fact that there were so many items listed and that a radio button selection was global across the various windowed areas--contrary to the usual workings of such interface items. End-user testing might shed some light on the usefulness of all those. Steve feels that such problem categorization is only useful if 1) the end-user understands enough about the categories to make an intelligent selection, and 2) if those selections are useful after-the-fact in helping to route the issue to its best and quickest resolution. Steve is not sure that either of these are the case in this instance.
Then we looked at http://remedy.ifas.ufl.edu. Steve admitted confusion on how the support application portion works. Steve was not clear that the "Ticket Queue for IFAS HelpDesk" represented the entire set of tickets that had been submitted by anyone. He also did not understand the significance of the various heading and clickable areas on the ticket results table. Those items seem poorly titled, making it difficult to readily discern their meanings. Overall, Steve found it difficult to understand how best to use this system to track a problem and to make sure that a particular ticket of interest got the attention of the person most likely to be able to solve it. A succinct definition of assigned versus referred would help as well. Additionally, Steve felt it odd that anyone can close a ticket, rather than limiting that to the person to whom it is assigned.
Nancy Johnson had some comments on this issue via chat, which Steve failed to get inserted into the meeting. She sent these later in an e-mail: "I've been very frustrated with Remedy. I have written out tickets that failed to submit. I have submitted tickets that never show up and I didn't save a copy of the details. Instead of quick phone call answers it has taken 2-3 days and lots of pass-the-buck to even find out if something is being addressed, let alone whether it was fixed. When the final answer is call the Help desk and I had started there and gotten the answering machine message to call back later, it just gets more frustrating. At least today I learned how to see the active tickets, and now I know that some I submitted earlier this week are not present. I don't know if when a global problem like my networked printers lost multiple drivers when they applied some hotfix earlier this week is still being worked when the ticket I submitted isn't there. Do I need to re-submit to say it still isn't working?"
Making the ICC security group a distribution list
This has been done. Currently, we can send to either the ICC-L list (aka ". IFAS-ICC-L") or to the Distribution Group. Dwight has created an ICC mailbox in a public folder, that is already in use as our new e-mail archive and which can be accessed via the web. Steve requested that Dwight and Chris pick a date on which to disable the list and hide the contact entry for the ICC listserv list (i.e., ". IFAS-ICC-L" which points to "email@example.com" and give him a couple of days prior notice so he can inform the ICC of the change-over to using the distribution group for ICC discussions and announcements. Steve wants to use the ICC as a testing forum for exploring and utilizing various features of Outlook and Exchange.
Dan raised the problem, not with the ICC--but with certain other lists, of integrating Exchange with our SQL database so we could use distribution groups in place of our current dynamic listserv solution. Chris Hughes stated that Microsoft has a solution available that might make that possible.
Dan then mentioned that Joe Joyce has approved requiring that all IFAS IT support people be subscribed to the ICC list (in whatever fashion we implement it). Chris Hughes pointed out that we would not have the confirm option that we have currently with the listserv were we to use distribution groups. We can, however, limit posts to those within our Exchange organization. It is likely that a listserv will have to be some continuing component of our solution for certain purposes in any case. Chris Hughes also mentioned that he would send instructions on how to make the next ICC meeting a calendar event as another test for the ICC of what Exchange and Outlook could do for us. Joe Spooner pointed out the wonder tools that SharePoint could provide us along these lines. Mark Ross couldn't resist once again pointing out that we aren't maintaining current systems and that we need to solve that problem before adding new services (especially complicated ones).
Proposal to upgrade all of IFAS to Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2003 Server by Dec. 31, 2005
Steve related that all those in the ICC to whom he had talked indicated that they are on track to remove Win98 by July 1st as discussed. Steve asked whether anyone saw a problem with meeting a year-end deadline on removing Win2K--noting that he will have to upgrade about one machine a week to meet that goal. Winnie Lante said that she would have more trouble than that, estimating she would have to do 2-3 a week to meet such a deadline. We all agreed to make this a goal at the very least.
Steve skipped quickly over the wallplate issue, noting that IFAS has decided not to go with that model. This mention caught the attention of Dr. Hoit who asked the reasoning behind that decision. It boils down to cost. Chris Hughes stated that we could replace all our equipment with HP gear (not Cisco) every year for the cost of going to the wallplate. Steve noted that it is not really "to the wallplate" either, because the cost of wiring is extra, and in many cases, wiring would account for the majority of layer two upgrade costs anyway. Marc Hoit said that they are looking at various options to subsidize that portion of the costs for moving to the wallplate.
Moving all IFAS machines and printers to DHCP from static addressing
Steve asked if this is a project that is currently scheduled. Chris Hughes believed that this has already been completed for remote sites and that Marshall Pierce is working on that for parts of campus. Steve asked for clarification on whether Marshall currently had the time to handle this should a unit wish to contact him on that. John Sawyer said that either Marshall or himself should be able to help on that.
Report from the ICC-AD Subcommittee:
Kevin Hill, chairman of the ICC-AD Subcommitte, reported on what was decided at yesterday's meeting relating to the role of that committee going forward. Since the majority of our goals with that committee have been met, we will halt our monthly meetings and continue those only on an as needed basis. Otherwise, we will fold our AD discussions back into the ICC meetings.
Prior exit procedure discussion. Chris noted that our exit procedures are being developed and that a permissions removal website is now available that will allow you to remove permissions for any user from all ď. IFASĒ UFAD groups and from all local groups on IFAS machines. The only exception is the autogroups, which still must be done through manipulation of the NMB field in the UF Directory interface; those permissions reappear currently, however, if the home department setting is not also cleared. This matter will be covered at the next UFAD meeting on the 19th.
Chris mentioned that the automated processes originally included steps that handled forwarding of exiting employees' IFAS email addresses to Gatorlink for 1 year, and the backup of their mailbox to \\if-srv-file01\PST at the time of the forward. This share was to be secured to Unit-Admins only. That portion of the process has been removed currently. That was done due to perceived requirements for a VP-level response to the 4 August 2005 ITPAC recommendation on e-mail retention. The inability to set forwarding at the Gatorlink side to prevent e-mail loops was another consideration in this decision. We may get around this latter matter via coordination between OU Admins and the departing persons.
Marc Hoit said that UF is looking at supporting lifelong Gatorlink authentication and mailbox usage. Marc also stated that they are working on making the minutes of all ITAC committee meetings available on a publicly available site.
Mail enabling all IFAS users
Chris stated this would take their existing e-mail account in IFAS and establish an address for the Gatorlink. That would allow all of them to show up in the GAL. That is something they would like to turn on as they get rid of the contacts. Nobody had an issues with getting those established, but Chris did mention that he needed to get Gatorlink matches for a number of folks at CREC and in Animal Science. He will be sending a list of those to Mike Armstrong and David McKinney for their assistance on that.
IFAS AD Reporting Site
Chris mentioned that an IFAS AD Reporting Site has been created at http://if-srv-sql01/Reports (Note: moved to http://if-srv-sql02/Reports July 2006). The ICC was given a brief show on how that system works. Cudos to Chris for making this marvelous tool available. If you want additional reports, e-mail Chris about your needs. He eventually plans to make a section for each department and give them permissions over that such that OU Admins can create their own reports using a wizard in Visual Studio 2003. This all coincides with UFAD's storing data on any user changing their "Network Managed By" status; George Bryan had asked for ideas on how to distribute that information and the tool that Chris Hughes developed would seem ideal for that. Chris noted that they would have SQLserver client licensing issue doing that, however--something which Mike Kanofsky later confirmed.
John Sawyer's status report was skipped because he had to leave the meeting early
Report(s) from IT/SA
Chris Leopold was unavailable to speak to the proposed implementation of "all support access going through the HelpDesk." Steve indicated that this is expected to become policy at some future date and that he assumes this will be announced to the ICC prior to that happening.
Dan Cromer reported that IFAS is dissatisfied with the PeopleSoft Enterprise Reporting System to such an extent that we are generating a website (data not yet available), http://reports.ifas.ufl.edu that will organize that data. The data will be extracted from PeopleSoft and deposited on this site by unit to assist financial personnel in their reporting tasks. A number of ICCers indicated that they had already created their own shadow systems for this purpose. Kevin Hill is having them use Quicken and Steve Lasley is extracting the information into an Access database. The main problem is that there are various categories of funds: travels, grants, share, etc. and that the problem of aggregating those sources to arrive at bottom-line figures is quite difficult--frankly, beyond most unit-level expertise.
The meeting was adjourned a trifle late at approximately 12:08.