IFAS COMPUTER COORDINATORS
NOTES FROM July 10th 2009 REGULAR MEETING
A meeting of the ICC was held on Friday, July 10th, 2009 in the ICS conference room. The meeting was chaired and called to order by Steve Lasley at about 10:00 am.
PRESENT: Sixteen members participated.
Remote participants: Tom Barnash, Micah Bolen, Dan Cromer, Chris Fooshee, Chris Leopold, Patrick Pettus, Mike Ryabin, Ed Steele, and Mitch Thompson.
On-site participants: Benjamin Beach, Andrew Carey, Lance Cozart, Winnie Lante, Steve Lasley, James Moore, and Santos Soler.
STREAMING AUDIO: available here.
Agendas were distributed and the sign-up sheet was passed around.
There were no new members to report this time, but Dan Cromer did want to congratulate Santos Soler on receiving his 5-year service pin.
Recap since last meeting:
As per his usual procedure, Steve pointed folks to the notes of the last meeting, without going into any details.
Videoconferencing and WAN discussion
In order to make meeting participation more efficient for Patrick Pettus and James Moore, these two topics have been moved to reside the top of our agendas.
Videoconferencing topics (previous discussion)
Patrick Pettus reported that this is in the very preliminary stages at this point, but he wants to look into the possibility of offering TMS access to individuals outside of VCS staff to distribute the work of scheduling VCs. Currently, individuals use a web-based Event Request system to request VCs. The actual scheduling, however, is done by VCS staff using TMS. That system does support various security roles, however, and it should be possible to provide varying levels of access based on membership in UFAD security groups. The proposal is to distribute out the actual scheduling capability.
The software is there, but the access scheme needs to carefully considered in terms of who might have access to what features. Patrick gave the example that a unit might want to be able to schedule their own endpoints, but not provide such access to others. Of course, if that was carried to its extreme, then access would be mostly useless as each could only schedule their own endpoints. The TMS system lacks a way of notifying a site that their endpoint has been scheduled, unfortunately. It is this lack of intercommunication that makes coordination so difficult. In an ideal case, a VC could be proposed in a way that would auto-notify suggested participants and allow them to confirm or deny participation.
Steve suggested that it might be best to start with providing access to the VC coordinators at each site. He felt that things might quickly grow out-of-hand if everyone was given such access. Patrick was concerned about that aspect as well; he envisioned that VCs which were scheduled would still go into an "approval queue" that would be monitored by VCS staff. That would allow them to intervene should VCs be scheduled which they saw might be problematic.
Patrick indicated that having both the request and scheduling systems in place is problematic. The fact that the Event Listing is not synchronized with the TMS schedule already causes issues. It would be nice if we could either get down to a single list (which would happen if everyone had TMS access) or if changes on the scheduling end could be reflected in the Event Listing.
Dan Cromer stated that he thought working this out would be good because it would help relieve Patrick and Dean Delker of some of their current burden for scheduling all the IFAS VCs. Dan proposed a pilot consisting of a few volunteers and suggested Chris Fooshee as a likely candidate for that. He also proposed that we work on getting the TMS schedule to update the public web site in some fashion--perhaps even something as simple as a link to the TMS schedule from there.
[While still under investigation, it would appear that individuals would be able to create a conference which only VCS staff or themselves could edit; this would greatly lessen the risk of opening conference creation to all. A flash demo of the Tandberg Scheduler interface is available. Furthermore, there is a setting for each individual endpoint which would allow e-mail notification when someone schedules that device. Combining that with the fact that any conference not scheduled by an administrator must be approved by VCS staff, it would appear that broad access to the TMS scheduler may be a desireable solution. Using only TMS via the web would allow removal of the web-based event/request lists which are problematic in not being sychronized with the actual schedule. VCS staff could then focus on approval (e.g., assuring sufficient capacity) and moderation (e.g., resolving conflicts among competing scheduling needs such as removing an endpoint from a scheduled conference at the request of the owner).]
IFAS RESOURCE INTERGRATION SYSTEM (IRIS) otherwise known as Meeting Room Manager
Steve asked Chris Fooshee if he had received any feedback from his posting regarding this scheduling software. Chris said he hadn't but mentioned that it has been extremely useful to them. He added his concern that IFAS might not renew the license if the software didn't attract broader usage.
Steve mentioned a demo which Chris had done at ITPAC back in November of 2007 and suggested that Apopka's needs might be more complex than most. Entomology has been quite happy with their own simplistic Exchange Public folder approach to scheduling rooms and equipment. Chris said that hosting the College of Pharmacy and the College of Business there at Apopka does make their situation unique.
24/7 Polycom on-time
Chris Fooshee expressed concerns about leaving equipment on full-time. They have severe lightning problems at MREC. They also keep mobile systems in closets when they aren't being used for security reasons. Chris suggested arranging a maintenance window during which he could make sure the equipment was on and available for updating.
WAN transition to CNS (previous discussion)
Updates from James
James Moore wanted to remind the district and REC support folks to keep him informed of issues and problem areas. He wants to have critical needs pre-defined so that they can be addressed in the most efficient and effective order as money becomes available.
James went quickly through a number of current tickets. He is fighting an MTU problem with a provider in Polk County. Bruce is looking into a ticket for the St. Lucie CEO where they are having some issues with FIRN routing. The router at the Ruskin lab is running some really old code which is causing some stability problems with the VPN tunnel; they will be replacing that router as a consequence. A full site upgrade is scheduled for Belle Glade shortly. At the GCREC campus in Wimauma, James will be working with Joel Parlin to do a full service review of the site and the circuit, to provide a life-cycle upgrade of the router there, and to get them some new networking equipment including WAPs for their dorms.
James said that they do have some WAPs coming in from the remediation; he wanted people to let him know if they have some consumer grade WAPs which need replacing so he can address those with the greatest needs first.
James has been working with Deltacom to get four T1s to replace the old FIRN T1s at Brooksville, the Hastings barn, Jay and Marianna. Testing will be done on all those except Marianna on Monday. Citra is going to an AT&T Metro Ethernet connection as is the NFREC Milton campus. Homestead should finally have their Metro connection shortly. CNS is working on some testing with Quincy help monitor the connection there; if that goes well they plan to implement improved monitoring over all the IFAS WAN links. They will be looking for certain kinds of traps related to tunnels dropping and various types of jitter and instability so they can get an email notification when such events occur.
Next month James hopes to have a list of sites which will be upgraded for round one of the router endpoint refresh. While James can see the model types and locate likely candidates from that, he would appreciate feedback from those out in the field as to where we should concentrate our efforts first. James will be looking to upgrade connection speeds where those are severely limiting. He also intends to move the PPOE endpoint off the routers to the modems to provide a more clear demarcation between the provider network and our own.
WebCT going away? (previous discussion)
There were no new updates on this.
New myuf Market requisitioning system changeover beginning July 1st (previous discussion)
Lance Cozart asked about using this system to purchase for other departments; unlike many of us, Lance works across departments and has this need. He asked about this aspect during training and they did not know. Steve asked if anyone had a central contract for such questions. Dan Cromer referred us to a myufmarket web site. The contact for questions listed there is email@example.com. Dan mentioned having asked a question there and he did receive a somewhat generic reply.
UF IT Action Plan (previous discussion)
Discussion around yesterday's Peer2Peer
Steve noted that Dr. Frazier spoke on this topic at yesterday's Peer2Peer Workshop, the archived stream of which is now available. Steve mentioned trying to watch the stream from his office, but having been called away too often to get much out of it. Dan Cromer saw most of the presentations and thought they were valuable.
Dan wanted us aware that a yet to be named "group of eight" (those reporting directly to the UF CIO [Mike Conlon, Tim Fitzpatrick, Fedro Zazueta, and Earl Robbins] along with the four IT heads for Health Sciences, IFAS, Administration and the Provost's office) were meeting for the first time next Friday. He hopes that minutes of those meetings will be posted on the web.
Dan asked if anyone had used Wake-on-LAN (WoL). Santos Soler said that this doesn't work across subnets because of blocking at the routers. You would need to implement a Wake-on-LAN machine on each subnet which is problematic. [This was mentioned at the workshop as well: see 02:22:50 point in stream.] James said he would look into the details of why CNS felt blocking this was unavoidable. Santos added that at Operations Analysis they would shutdown computers off-hours provided the user wasn't a member of the Remote Desktop users group.
Steve mentioned a couple of points which he did catch. Paul Smith mentioned that they use GPP to put machines to sleep. They use standby first followed by hibernation. If the user is in the office and the system goes into standby, they get the system back in about 5 sec. When they are gone for the night it goes into hibernation and is safe from power fluctuations [see 02:23:24 point in stream]. Fedro commented late in the session that the day may be coming when Ed Poppell can't pay UF's energy bill. At that point the costs may be distributed out [see 02:37:25 point in stream].
When James mentioned leaving his work computer on 24/7 so he could remote desktop, Steve pointed out that the opportunity cost of inconveniencing faculty is likely not part of the cost/savings calculations on this issue. Ben Beach said that Dick Deason's cost saving figures were compellingly in favor of managing power, however [see 01:100:00 point in stream]. The estimates are that they can save $75 per computer per year.
ITAC-NI revived temporarily
The ITAC-NI committee has been asked to remain intact as a group until a new committee structure is finalized. Dr. Frazier hopes this will happen by the start of Fall. Consequently, a meeting is being planned for next Thursday.
UF Exchange Project updates (previous discussion)
Office Communications Server coming to UF
Dan Cromer mentioned again that OCS will be going into production this month. A number of folks had been involved in the beta testing, but many may still not be aware of this application and what it might provide. There is on-line training for Live Meeting available from Microsoft which might be worth looking into.
Participation in the production system will require payment at the level of each department for enterprise CALs: $9/per user/year. It is not absolutely clear how many licenses a unit would be required to obtain, but the gist was that Mike Conlon doesn't want to burden UFAD staff with managing those. According to Dan, Erik Schmidt is the person to ask about those details. Steve mentioned that units are unlikely to buy licenses across the board if they need to cover all users in their OU--even considering that these enterprise CALs provide access to the full range of MS products like MOSS and Microsoft Application Virtualization.
Dan added that he believed there will be a link off of http://mail.ufl.edu pointing to the details and documentation once this hits production.
There was some discussion about Elluminate vs. Live Meeting. Elliminate seems to be considerably more complicated from the users viewpoint, but is less expensive ($6.69 vs. $9) and works well over slow connections. Ben added that anonymous access to (viewing rather than participating) a Live Meeting session over the web is free; that might have great applicability to Extension training programs such as our Master Gardeners.
Split DNS solution for UFAD problems
Steve wants to keep this on the agenda for future reference.
IFAS WebDAV implementation
There continues to be no progress on the documentation which was to happen prior to announcement. Since this has never been formally announced, the matter remains on the agenda as a standing item.
Windows 7 Deployment via the WAIK, MS Deployment Toolkit 2010, USMT 4.0, WDS, and SCCM
Steve let everyone know that Micah Bolen has kindly volunteered to chair an ICC subcommittee on Windows 7 Deployment. Micah has already created a "Windows 7 Deployment” SharePoint site to help organize this effort. Micah wants everyone to be aware of this site and encourages everyone to become involved in this important project. He stressed that documenting things right from the start will be critical to the success of this effort. He is looking for feedback, but suggested that Step-by-Step: Basic Windows Deployment for IT Professionals might be a good framework as a start.
Steve noted that the deployment tools have come a long way since the Windows XP Setup Manager. Vista brought image-based deployment, tools which permitted off-line updating of images, the Windows Automated Installation Kit, and the BDD that helped automate a number of things. With Windows 7 the tools have improved still further. USMT 4.0 allows very rapid user state migration to a fresh install via hard-link migration; the files stay on the machine during installation--skipping the need to copy them off and back on. A ten minute video demonstration is available on TechNet.
Steve encourages everyone to read up on these tools. It is his hope that we can break things into subtasks with various ICCers becoming local "experts" in different aspects. Lance Cozart has already investigated drivers, for example; he might focus on that aspect [Drivers can be inserted at many points in the process and the different ways those are packaged means a number of methods will be needed. For example, Dell is planning to provide CAB files for many of their machines.]. We will need individuals willing to focus on the more common applications such as Adobe Reader, help figure out how best to deploy those and keep them updated. We could use someone to investigate USMT and how that might fit in. There are many roles to be filled; by working together we can go much farther than we could get going it alone--especially if we are willing to share and document what we learn via the Win7 Deployment SharePoint site.
Windows 7 pre-order thru 7/11/09
Chris Fooshee reminded folks that Windows 7 upgrade preorders are available at discount(Home Premium/58% off/$49.99 and Professional/50% off/$99.99--no discount for Ultimate which runs $219.99 *choke*) through tomorrow.
Exit processes, NMB and permission removal (prior discussion)
Nothing further was available on this topic at this time.
Re-enabling the Windows firewall
This is still planned but is pending the time to implement.
Wayne's Power Tools (previous discussion)
Wayne Hyde wasn't available, but he continues his work to move his tools from classic ASP to .Net 3.5 so both sets of tools can be supported in a single web interface. Chris Leopold wanted to remind everyone that he has published a web version of his DHCP log search application.
Folder permissioning on the IFAS file server
You are reminded to please take the time to read and implement the new standards. If you have any questions get with Wayne or Steve.
Disabling/deleting computer accounts based on computer password age
As with so many things in these times of inadequate staffing, finding time for implementation is proving difficult.
New MPS/DC testing -- access by unit-level administrators
Steve forgot to ask, but Andrew certainly continues to work on this.
Core Services status
Wayne wasn't available to provide his usual updates on this topic.
ePO version 4 status
This topic was not addressed this month.
Status of SharePoint services (prior discussion)
SharePoint was discussed within the context of other topics this month.
Public folder file deletion policies and procedures status
Nothing further was available on this topic at this time.
The July Microsoft patches include three critical and three important updates for Windows, Virtual PC, and Office Publisher 2010.
MS Office News update
No news to relate.
Job Matrix Update status
This is here as a standing topic--no discussion this month.
Remedy system status
Steve wants to leave this matter as a standing agenda item for future discussion.
Chris Fooshee encouraged people to respond back to the list when addressing questions posted there--rather than replying directly to the poster. He feels he may miss out on potentially useful information otherwise. Steve said than many, himself included, are a bit shy on doing that--depending on the situation.
Chris wondered if we could use SharePoint to get around this, whereby all could see the discussion more readily. Steve said that he lives in e-mail and that going out to SharePoint might take a second-seat to that. Ben pointed out that one can subscribe to e-mail notification on a SharePoint site, which would essentially bring the discussion back via e-mail. He also proposed e-mail enabling SharePoint so people could use e-mail to post there. If folks want that, Steve would be glad to support doing this.
Dan Cromer offered an alternate solution that we should follow the convention where the original poster provides as a courtesy a follow-up post summarizing the feedback they have received and the ultimate solution.
The meeting was adjourned early at approximately 11:15.