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Recommendation on the SLO for IFAS Wide Area Network Support:

  • Status: approved by the ICC (via e-mail vote initiated 13 May 2009)

  • Background:

    CNS has been managing the IFAS Wide Area Network (WAN) since July of 2008 on a "best effort" basis until a more formal understanding of expectations could be developed. That understanding has now evolved into a Service Level Objectives document which has been discussed at length before the ICC over the last two months. Many of the concerns of IFAS IT support over the wording of that document have been addressed, while CNS has made clear the minimum standards which they will require.

  • Recommendation:
  • The ICC recognizes the value of a formal understanding and feels that the SLO draft does a good job of clarifying expectations between CNS and IFAS moving ahead. We also realize that this will be a "living document" subject to changes as deemed necessary. There are concerns, however, over the costs involved and the resources both CNS and IFAS will have to devote to this effort.

    A higher level of network standards is being specified than we have applied in the past. While that looks good on paper, the ICC wants administration at all levels to be made aware of what meeting these new standards will mean. Consequently, the ICC recommends that cost estimates of the specified remediation be accurately determined as soon as possible and the consequences for operations across the state be conveyed to those who must foot the bills for seeing that the important work of research and extension can continue.

  • Budget concerns:
  • Whatever the remediation costs turn out to be, the decisions being made will mean that new standards and their resultant expense will apply to all future network expansion, and that support staff will be stretched thinner than ever during what promises to be a multi-year remediation process. When shortages occur, finger-pointing will be inevitable and that will reflect poorly on all involved. Of particular concern to the ICC is that IT support staff will be caught in the middle without recourse for helping those whom they support, and worse that people won't be able to do their jobs.

    The IFAS IT staff responsible for field support of the WAN believe this transition will be difficult and involve many opportunities for disconnects in providing service to the end user. District Support is also concerned with maintaining good relations with county governments which provide a percentage of the budget for each CEO every year. District Support is not convinced that these changes will be welcomed in many cases and fear being caught in the middle.

    While the application of further resources could assist with smoothing the transition, budget will remain the primary concern. Additionally, the central server administration group fears having to compete with CNS for our scarce budget.

  • Dissent:
  • None

  • Action:

    Steve Lasley will present the results to the ITPAC at their next meeting.

last edited 20 May 2009 by Steve Lasley