ITPAC Meeting Minutes: August 19, 2009

Last edited August 24, 2009 by Steve Lasley.


  1. Introduction of members and guests
  2. Approve prior minutes
  3. Reorganization of ICS, IT and EMR
  4. IFAS/CNS Service Level Objectives
  5. ICC Updates
  6. IT Updates

Call to Order

This meeting was scheduled in McCarty D, room 1031 for 9:00am on Thursday, August 19, 2009. The meeting was called to order by chairman Allen Wysocki.


Eighteen people attended this meeting locally with a single attendee via Polycom videoconference.

Thirteen members were present: Dan Cromer, Keith Gouin, Brian Gray, Steve Johnson, Joe Joyce, Steve Lasley, Mary Anne Morgan, Sheri Munn, Dave Palmer, Michelle Quire, Ron Thomas, Pete Vergot (via Polycom) and Allen Wysocki.

Two members were absent: Student representative [currently unfilled] and Wendy Williams.

Six guests were in attendance as well: Elwood Aust, Jack Battenfield, Tim Fitzpatrick, Chuck Frazier, Joe Hayden, and Dan Miller.

Audio Archive

An archive of audio from the meeting is available.

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1.) Introduction of members and guests

Our chairman asked that each attendee introduce themselves and we had a number of notable guests including but not limited to UF's Interim CIO and the Director of CNS.

Regarding membership, Ron Thomas has replaced Ashley Wood (retired) as the ICS representative to the committee and the student representative position is currently unfilled.

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2.) Approve prior minutes

Since it had been so long since our last meeting, Al briefly reviewed highlights of the minutes of the last meeting and then those were approved without dissent.

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3.) Reorganization of ICS, IT and EMR

3.1) Information and Communication Services - the new ICS

Jack Battenfield was on hand to briefly discuss the reorganization of IFAS Communications Services, Information Technology, and External Media Relations which was first mentioned at ITPAC back in November, 2007. Jack explained that the rationale was to provide some administrative efficiencies and the financial aspects of the formerly separate units have now been merged. The merger was also based on faculty input which indicated the need to focus more efficiently on electronic delivery of information. This newly merged unit is now called Information and Communication Services, or ICS.

3.2) Merger arose out of detailed discussions

Joe Joyce expanded on Jack's comments by saying that this merger arose from the recommendations of the 2005 IT Task Force. That committee also recommended that IFAS move toward the web and other electronic methods for distributing the information we generate for both our clients and for our own internal use. Consequently, IFAS will be focusing on web delivery and eLearning as our delivery models going ahead.

Joe conceded that ICS suffered a very considerable budget cut within this reorganization and with the latest staff layoffs. He added that Jack has done a good job keeping track of all the pieces during this difficult transition.

3.3) How will faculty and staff interface with this new merged department?

Al asked whether anything has changed regarding how faculty and staff interact with the new ICS. Jack responded that the hope is that more support will be available for brand delivery--mostly web-based. Most services have been converted but some changes are in store regarding what can be provided at no cost due to budget constaints. Joe Joyce responded that their services has not gone to a strictly fee for services model; there are some things where costs will have to be shared, however.

Al mentioned that he always calls the UF Help Desk regarding his computing needs. He asked if IFAS is still providing those sorts of services. Dan Cromer responded that the IFAS Help Desk is still there, but is currently operating with just 2.5 staff with Dan Christophy and Ed Steele as the only full-time employees. Dan mentioned that the goal is to have the UF Computing Help Desk handle whatever portion of the support they can. They will refer things to the IFAS Help Desk if they are deemed to be outside the scope of the UF service.

If you need to bring in your laptop for configuration or if you have a specific question about EDIS, for example, then the IFAS Help Desk is your point of contact. Dan also mentioned that Ed Steele is pretty well tied-up with managing our loaner laptops, so the IFAS Help Desk is definitely in a "we'll do the best we can with what we have" mode.

Dan Cromer said that the IT group (with the exception of the software group and Help Desk in Building 162) is now completely housed on the second floor of Building 120 while Jack has now moved his External Media Relations office from McCarty out to Building 116.

Ron Thomas added that if any faculty needed help in developing or adapting a course for an extension program or for distance education, they can still contact him downstairs in McCarty G016. Dan Cromer responded that he believed Ron's services are important and a too-well kept secret.

3.4) RDU formula changed

As a side note, Joe Joyce mentioned that the RDU formula as previously discussed at ITPAC was indeed changed this year and Joe thanked David Palmer for his efforts on that. They looked at a tremendous number of web hits of our published information along with e-mails that the extension faculty had exchanged with clients. EDIS and Solutions for Your Life generated a lot of traffic and not just "hits"; there were numerous substantial visits which were tracked by Diana Hagan.

Within the new RDU formula, e-mail contacts have been added and are now weighted the same as phone calls. Web hits were included at a .01 level of effort. Joe had originally wanted that at .1 but was later convinced that .01 would be a more accurate reflection of the effort exerted in obtaining a hit. That change made a big difference in the number of Research Development Units which IFAS generated.

Our calculations were sent to the Board of Governors in Tallahassee and we received no push back on the formula changes. Consequently, Joe feels the change is complete and the plan is to include electronic contacts in our formula this way from now on.

3.4.1) How will the RDU formula changes be communicated to faculty?

David Palmer asked about disseminating news of this change to our faculty as an incentive for them to track and report their e-mail contacts. Joe asked if the details were available on the Workload and Impacts site.

Steve Johnson said that from a faculty standpoint he would appreciate guidance on what to track, how to track, and the least cumbersome method for reporting those results to the IFAS Deans. Joe responded that tallies of e-mail contacts should be reported in the same manner as has been used for other contacts previously. Joe asked Keith Gouin for his input on this matter and Keith responded that e-mail contacts are really the only new item for faculty to report on. Keith said he would look into the matter and see to it that the web site reflects any changes in the procedures.

Steve Johnson asked if multiple e-mails on the same thread constituted a single or multiple contacts. Joe responded that these should be treated as one would phone calls where each call is counted as a separate contact with regards to effort.

Joe mentioned that the numbers did drop this year for the first time ever. This was attributed, in part, to the fact that we have so many vacancies in our county operations. Al noted that there are some who have under reported as well now that use of the FAS reporting system has been discontinued. All agreed that faculty need to be made aware of the importance of tracking and reporting e-mail contacts.

Pete Vergot joined the committee late via Polycom at approximately this point in the meeting.

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4.) IFAS/CNS Service Level Objectives

4.1) Introduction

Dan Cromer passed around a number of handouts related to this topic and noted that the subject was meant only as informational and was not being presented to the committee as a policy matter for their consideration. The SLO document has already been approved by Joe Joyce on behalf of the VP.

Al asked for clarification on what an "SLO" was. Dan Cromer responded that this is a written understanding of what both CNS and IFAS should expect with regards to support for the IFAS Wide Area Network (WAN).

Joe Joyce explained that as a result of the previous budget reduction for 2008-2009, IFAS had made the decision to move management of the IFAS WAN to CNS. That involved the laying off of two IFAS staff members who had previously managed the WAN.

Dan Cromer explained that the matter of the SLO had been discussed at the ICC and input was received via that method. Rather than go straight to that document, however, Dan preferred to start with the IFAS WAN Annual Report which has just been completed by CNS and consequently introduced Dan Miller, Network Coordinator of CNS Network Services.

4.2) August 2009 IFAS WAN Annual Report by CNS

Dan Miller passed out copies of the report and went over the various sections in detail.

4.2.1) Executive Summary

Dan Miller explained that the focus for the first year was on maintaining service by solving the wide-spread problems which were found, defining how CNS would work with IFAS IT and the technicians at remote sites, and discovering and documenting all aspects of work and areas of support. Significant effort was spent on developing the SLO document, defining the scope, the working model and the funding model of this service. Dan noted that CNS was in "catch-up" mode for most of the year. Significant progress was made on underlying issues, however, which will allow more project work to be completed in the coming year. Dan stated his belief that IFAS has received greater than expected effort and value from CNS and that the IFAS WAN is now being managed in a more professional and consistent manner with fewer groups and better coordination.

4.2.2) Scope

Dan Miller related that the overall size of the IFAS WAN network was a bit bigger than anyone realized. CNS and IFAS IT negotiated through the first half of 2009 on what would be included and eventually covered all aspects of the WAN network including the Local Area Network (LAN) switches, Wireless Access Points (WAPs) and Un-interruptible Power Supplies (UPSes) which support them.

Dan Miller said that there turned out to be more network devices and even more buildings than they had initially realized. An additional site even appeared "out of nowhere" once this project starting rolling. Dan Cromer responded that Animal Sciences had several DSL connections which were recently identified and of which even he had no previous knowledge. Dan Cromer added that a good part of this is due to the lack of documentation left by the previous WAN management staff.

4.2.3) Approach

Dan Miller said that a great deal of time was spent talking about and reviewing the SLO. This matter went before the ICC several times where concerns were discussed. Dan Miller said that he had been expecting ITPAC to approve the SLO, but apparently, its status has been changed to more of an informational item. After this meeting, now that CNS has the full support and approval of IFAS administration, CNS will again begin the process of discovery to find all devices which CNS needs to support. Dan mentioned that he hopes the users will help the technicians in that effort because it will be for their benefit.

Additional customer feedback was obtained via twice monthly meetings with IFAS IT, including Dan Cromer, Chris Leopold and Ben Beach. The initial focus was going to be on replacing the old routers, but feedback received led to the inclusion of a few life cycle upgrades to demonstrate the benefits of that approach.

4.2.4) Routine Work

Dan Miller pointed out that James Moore is the person CNS hired to be the primary engineer for supporting the IFAS WAN. James handled more tickets than other engineers and provided the overall organizational approach to management of the IFAS WAN. Dan relied on James heavily and believes he has done an excellent job.

Joe Joyce asked if CNS had added just one person for this. Dan Miller responded that James is the primary person, but that this is a team approach and a portion of the overall FTE totaling 1.4 has been allocated to other CNS staff as well.

Dan Miller noted that the figures included in the report indicate that other CNS engineers handled a great deal of the problem tickets. This is encouraging because it says that James is getting the help he needs for supporting the urgent issues which require prompt attention.

Problem Tickets

Problem Ticket Response Goals: Dan Miller said that CNS has set response goals for problem tickets and found that the vast majority of tickets were passed and put into progress quickly. This is how it should be: people begin working on the problems immediately as they come in. Dan noted that they had a slightly lower pass rate under the resolved goal. The good news there is that manual inspection of all those tickets showed that the customer was being served and the problems were being resolved promptly. The lower rate was discovered to have resulted from tickets not having their status changed.

Analysis: Older T1 Circuits remain troublesome and older routers were another concern. Those will be replaced as quickly as possible. Power problems were also mentioned as a frequent occurrence. It is quite common to have a site go down and, upon checking, it is noticed that a storm has entered the area; once the storm passes, the site comes back up. In many cases CNS can't even reach people via phone because the power is out. While one might suppose a UPS would be the obvious solution for that problem, CNS has found that such devices bring their own challenges, failures and maintenance concerns. That was another point of discussion with IFAS IT and it was decided to include a UPS for the routers at each site.

Request Tickets

There were much lower numbers of these as compared to problem tickets and James did a higher percentage of these. They track small and large projects--from something as simple as making a minor adjustment to an ACL all the way up to a full life cycle upgrade.

Ticket Summary

Dan Miller stated that CNS had addressed about 250 tickets this year, which was a great increase from the roughly 40-50 handled the prior year. While it is clear that some issues were under reported, CNS is making it a priority to get all routine work listed in the ticket system. Dan noted that the rate of problem tickets increased sharply when automated monitoring of the VPN tunnels was put in place in early June. CNS intends to do some in-depth analysis of power and circuit issues and apply their efforts where they will do the most good. They hope to see a major payoff there in terms of decreased effort towards "putting out fires" and hope to be able to spend more time on planning and implementing major improvements.

4.2.5) Project Work

Dan Miller mentioned that the subsections here were grouped roughly in chronological order, but also in terms of priority.

Transition of Management to CNS

Dan Miller said that there was a lot of work in the beginning for the hand-off as mentioned prior. CNS located available documentation and built-out the rest that was needed. It was a team effort and IFAS IT provided a great deal of assistance--especially in the early months. Basic communications had to be established and CNS had to work on the long-term work method as related in the SLO. CNS also had to deal with cases of remediation where someone had consumer-grade electronics (switches and WAPs) in their office. These needed to be identified and that "discovery" process is still underway and should begin again very shortly.

Network Documentation

Dan Miller stated that good network documentation is the key to professional management. CNS now has extensive logical diagrams, circuit documentation, and device configuration and inventories which are about 90% complete. Network diagrams are being added to their on-line wiki system; that process is roughly 40% complete. CNS is still discussing methods for making that on-line documentation available to the IFAS Technicians. Doing that poses some technical challenges, but CNS remains committed to providing the best solution there that they can.

Migration of FIRN Circuits

The FIRN network underwent a major transition on July 1st of this year. Thankfully, CNS received some prior notice of that, but it still involved a good deal of work in identifying other carriers/options and putting those in place. Most of those are complete and some are very nearly complete. Citra is the remaining issue, but so far CNS has managed to avoid any major disruption of service.

Joe Joyce asked about the costs. Dan Miller responded that he believed they were able to lower costs overall. Dan Cromer responded that some have been higher and some lower. He needs to look at the total to see whether or not we can go ahead with a new 10Mbps connection at Citra while remaining within our $46,000 budget for circuit upgrades. Dan noted that IRREC and Ft. Lauderdale are quite happy with their new circuits.

Dan Cromer mentioned that Quincy continues to be a challenge and they are still looking at it, Milton and Immokalee. Dan Miller added that we are trying to keep the costs level and in every case the circuit changes involved similar capacity while bypassing the aging ill-performing FIRN firewall that had been a chokepoint at the UF entry.

General Circuit Projects

Significant initial effort was spent on identifying authentication credentials, circuit passwords and configurations for DSL circuits which were necessary for troubleshooting and service orders. CNS performed a comprehensive site service inquiry around the state, reviewing the offerings from each provider in order to learn what was possible in terms of circuit aggregation. Less opportunity existed there than they had hoped, but it was valuable effort in helping form other decisions.

Billing information was collected as a baseline to inform circuit upgrade designs and funding decisions. IFAS IT and local units pay for circuits costs, so collecting this information required dealing with many different entities.

CNS did substantial research on options to gain US Grant monies for circuit upgrades. Things were a bit too rushed to get in on the first round, but there may be some opportunities in rounds two and three. Dan Miller's boss, Dave Pokorney, did some work coordinating with Dan Cromer, Pete Vergot, and Fedro Zazueta along with EMS and the Governor's Office in order to get the right people copied because they are looking at an aggregated approach. Dan Cromer added that currently there is a restriction in the grant proposal requests that any circuit had to contain at least one rural area that was unsupported or poorly supported. Arguments were made that there are significant benefits in supporting a central hub as well and Dan is hopeful that this restriction may be modified for some of our sites.

CNS has coordinated circuit shopping and selection. There are many reasons why that may be initiated.

The RECs and CEOs pay their own voice costs. CNS did begin some comprehensive investigation into bundling voice and data. There was a single success story there in Sumter County but it is a little too time consuming for CNS to push through all the circuits the first year, and maybe even in the second. They do look at that, however, whenever a circuit upgrade is investigated and hope to find some synergy there.

CNS also developed an alternative circuit design to maximize the price/performance, reliability and ease of troubleshooting. This involved providing two circuits; one smaller point-to-point back to UF which is dedicated or emphasized for videoconferencing use, and a higher-speed consumer grade circuit (DSL or cable) for internal Internet use. That provided some challenges for the router design and configuration, but CNS came up with a solution which is now in place at several sites. Dan Cromer commented that such a solution is advantageous for videoconferencing as that application is sensitive to transient interruptions which can lead to connection drops with the bridge. Isolating that traffic should make videoconferencing more reliable.

Dan Cromer mentioned that another practice which has been implemented is to monitor circuits to locate "top talkers". This will help permit us to ascertain that the available bandwidth is being appropriately utilized and that it is not being wasted by unadvisable practices.

Dan Miller commented that the circuit landscape and available technologies are much more complicated than they used to be. We have direct lines back to Gainesville as we have had before. We also have something called an "Internet T1" which involves a T1 to a local provider which then hits the Internet cloud. We have FLR connections which are preferred in all cases, but which are not always available. Those are still somewhat expensive in some cases, but are still the premium circuit. Additionally there are the DSL and cable modems and many different flavors of those. Consequently, it has been quite a job for CNS to tie this all together.


Dan Miller said that monitoring is key and that CNS has done a lot of work to monitor routers and circuits. They've done graphing, they have logging and triggers on logging alerts, and they have 24/7 alerts on the devices themselves. Most switches are monitored 24/7 for availability and all HP switches are being monitored with HP Procurve Manager as before. An audit was done to determine each unit's interest in participating in 24/7 response. It is one thing to have monitoring and quite another to wake someone up in the middle of the night to respond to an issue. The position of CNS has been that they will work on it if you will. Currently only 2 sites within IFAS have agreed to 24/7 response.

Develop Design Standards (DS)

Network Design Standards are key to large scale management. Without going into details, Dan Miller mentioned that good progress had been made in this area to the benefit of all.

Full Life Cycle Upgrades

Dan Miller said that this had been suggested by IFAS IT and was accomplished at a number of sites. Ft. Lauderdale was the big one with special challenges and for which special thanks had been received. Ft. Pierce is done, and Belle Glade is in progress. There is some new construction at Belle Glade which still needs to be worked out. Additionally, Balm is in progress.

David Palmer asked what units are being included in this IFAS WAN. Dan Miller responded that it includes the RECs and County Extension Offices. District Directors and counties themselves are involved in some cases. There are some locations where the counties do not want CNS coming in and managing the network. Consequently, CNS has to negotiate with everybody and try and find the best solution for each site. There are some county offices where the county is the authority and IFAS staff members reside on a county-managed network. In many cases, CNS defers to the district technicians who already have a working relation with the counties.

Dan Cromer added later that James Moore is going through the list county-by-county and working to resolve the issues at each site. The exact order depends on how things go, however; nothing is set in stone.

Joe Joyce asked if the coordination with our regional IT people was working out okay for CNS. Dan Miller responded that it is working fairly well. There are a lot of improvements there which CNS hopes to implement. CNS has not had as much time for training as they would have liked and that is a goal for the new year.

Remedy Ticketing System Integration

Dan Miller stated that both IFAS and CNS have been using the Remedy system, however, CNS utilizes a different schema and organization. Efforts are well underway to find a means of trading tickets back and forth between the two systems. That will help with several aspects of our workflow and should get done shortly.

Coordination on Video Conferencing Issues

CNS has been working with UF VSC on policy, problems, requests and standards. VSC has made some progress on videoconferencing and Polycom standards and CNS hopes that those combined with the network standards will lead to a better videoconferencing experience for everyone. We should have a reasonable expectation that videoconferencing will work and where there is likelihood that it won't work we shouldn't expect it to work. CNS is going to try and define that.

Are the initial difficulties being overcome?

Joe Joyce commented that he gets the sense that CNS had been facing a "big bubble" of obstacles and wondered if Dan Miller foresaw that bubble flattening out any. Dan responded that James Moore is very confident that things will be getting better shortly. Dan said he would characterize this "bubble" as more of a "mountain" but was himself cautiously optimistic.

Joe responded that he believed IFAS knew deep-down that this "bubble" was there and he appreciates the work CNS has been doing.

4.2.6) Budget Summary

FTE Summary

James Moore is almost completely dedicated to IFAS WAN support. He works long hours and has worked very hard this year. Dan Miller wanted to recognize his efforts. CNS has 7 other core network engineers, some of which are half-time to FLR. As needed they all share the on-call location and they are the ones who are handling the other problem tickets that James cannot handle directly. These other engineers are the mentors for James and his technical resources as well; consequently, James has greatly improved his skill set this year through that association.

CNS has a documentation team that does a lot of work for the Wallplate and has now contributed significantly to the IFAS WAN support. Dan Miller has been putting in a lot of time managing things as well. All those resources total 1.40 FTE accounting for $70,000 of the $120,000 annual payment which IFAS provides CNS for WAN support.

Funds Dedicated to IFAS WAN

Of the $50,000 budgeted for equipment, CNS spent nearly all with the remainder available as carry forward. When a problem arose getting funds in time for new construction at Belle Glade, CNS loaned IFAS about $9000 which will be repaid. As part of the negotiations on the SLO, CNS also agreed to utilize used Cisco switches in some cases which had been recovered from lifecycle replacement for Wallplate. That equipment amounted to roughly $20,000 (new rather than present value) and was gifted to IFAS. The goal is to keep the lifecycle replacement to under 10 years. They are trying very hard to do that.

The report breaks down the expenditures by site. These expenditures include switches, battery replacements, UPSes, routers, and in a few cases WAPs. These costs are primarily maintenance and replacement of the existing equipment. The other costs, as can be seen in the SLO, are borne by IFAS: layer one (wiring) costs, circuit costs and growth to the network.

The report also breaks equipment down into the categories of "deployed" and "planned". The latter category includes equipment that has already been purchased. They have some idea where it will go but it has not yet gotten out into the field.

4.2.7) Plans for 2009-2010

  • CNS will complete the network discovery and documentation project.
  • A remediation project (replacement of consumer grade devices) will also be completed utilizing used Cisco switches as necessary with no cost to IFAS.
  • CNS will have a completed plan for the IFAS REC circuits and will finalize all of the design standards.
  • CNS hopes to have a "Layer 1 Standards" refresh for campus that will include the IFAS WAN sites--perhaps with some exceptions.
  • A complete cost model will be developed to verify the expected life cycle.
  • Most or all of the WAN routers will be replaced and the training program for IFAS Technicians will be developed and delivered. This will include development software toolkits for technicians' laptops and CNS will also investigate what they can do to present flow data to identify "top talkers" in real time.

Although this is defined in the SLO, Dan Miller wanted to mention that when he says "IFAS Technicians" he is referring to the five District Support staff in addition to the technicians that are at the major REC sites. CNS will explicitly identify those technicians, make sure they are on the e-mail list, and ascertain that we have good communications.

4.2.8) IFAS REC/RDS Circuit costs

Dan Miller mentioned that the requested IFAS REC/RDS Circuit Costs - 8/19/2009 spreadsheet was attached to the end of the Annual Report handout. There are some footnotes at the bottom of that and there is little more research still to do.

4.2.9) Final questions and comments on the Annual Report

Joe Joyce asked Dan Miller if there was anything more that IFAS could do to help CNS. Dan responded that he believed it was already being handled. CNS is working closely with IFAS IT and it is just a matter of continuing to move forward.

Joe asked if CNS was getting any push-back from the RECs. Dan Miller answered that there is some, but they expect that putting the "stamp of approval" on the SLO will be the next step and hopefully everyone will join in and help us all pull in the same direction. If not, CNS will talk with Dan Cromer and address any cases which arise.

Joe asked if the remote IT support staff had input into these discussions. Dan Cromer responded that the ICC had provided the opportunity for input into the SLO. Some people chose to provide that and others who may "push back" chose not to participate. That is something which Dan will deal with.

4.2.10) ICC Recommendation on the SLO for IFAS Wide Area Network Support

Continuing to meet user expectations

Steve briefly discussed the ICC recommendation which had been e-mailed out to the committee members August 10th. This recommendation states the need to determine the costs each unit will have to bear both in layer one (wiring) remediation and in expansion needs going forward. It also summarized IT staff concerns regarding meeting the needs and expectations of their users within a new and evolving centrally managed environment.

IFAS must realize the consequences of higher standards

Steve went on to say that he didn't see the difficulties as a "CNS issue" as much as he did an "IFAS issue". We have committed now to a higher-level of networking standard and must realize and meet the costs which that involves both in dollars and staffing effort. Steve stated that he believes CNS has done a good job for their part in developing reasonable standards which they believe they can support. Now it is time for IFAS to adapt to this new situation and that will take considerable cooperation on both sides.

Compliments to James Moore and his flexibility

Steve complimented James Moore who has been excellent in his estimation. James has come to all the ICC meetings and kept us informed on how the WAN transition is going. He seems to be flexible where we need it. As long as we can continue that through this process of transition Steve believes we will be fine.

Assessing transition costs is important

Steve said his main concern is that we don't come to a place where IT staff has to say we can't afford to do something which we might have before because we didn't realize the consequences of the new standards. Consequently, Steve encouraged each IT person affected by this to take the time to carefully assess their situation. It gets back to the "discovery" process which Dan Miller mentioned; we need to get all those details worked out and see where things stand.

Being allowed to express concerns is important

In summary, Steve said that he feels it important that administration realize that concerns do exist. Dan Cromer responded that while he understood the concerns, the decision was made to go ahead with the SLO so that we would have a working document for moving forward. Dan believes we need to support improving the way networking is handled both on campus and through-out the IFAS WAN; IFAS has gotten by with "bailing wire and duct tape" long enough.

The IFAS WAN will improve under CNS management

Dan Cromer stated that the $120,000 we are now paying annually for network support is less than the previous staffing costs alone. Furthermore, $50,000 of that goes to equipment improvements each year. Previously, no money was specifically budgeted for network electronics upgrades; rather we applied funds as needed if available.

Dan Cromer said that when we find cases where remediation is needed we will either find the money or we won't do it. Joe Joyce pointed out that whenever we have run into similar critical needs in the past we have always found the money somewhere to fix it. He suspects that should remain the case moving forward.

The ICC as a forum for constructive discussion

Joe Joyce pointed out that 8-9 years ago IFAS didn't even have a vehicle to discuss and he marveled at how far this has now come with the ICC.

IFAS WAN standards differ from Wallplate

Dan Miller wanted to mention that the campus Wallplate standards are at a higher level than CNS is offering to the IFAS WAN. Wallplate includes structured cabling that is supported by CNS. In the IFAS WAN it is really more of a switch-plate model, where CNS manages to the port on the switches they maintain. The cabling remains supported completely by IFAS. There are other differences as well; Wallplate standards just didn't fit with the IFAS WAN because it is too expensive

Wireless expected to meet a number of needs

Dan Miller stated that CNS intends wireless usage to continue and improve. They will make wireless available at every significant site within IFAS and hope that the global, immediate and unforeseen networking needs can be met in the future in large part via wireless.

The use of port-level security is not expected

Dan Miller said there are no plans to implement port-level security as is done with Wallplate. Such security will actively shut down a port when somebody plugs in a network hub. However, CNS certainly will not support hubs which show up and wants to discourage those and move away from using them as quickly as possible.

A team approach is both needed and anticipated

Dan Miller stated that he understands the concerns of the ICC, but that this will be a team approach and we will all work together to make this a success. As for priorities, Dan believes it will be up to IFAS management to set technician priorities. CNS intends to be reasonable and to do the best they can with the people which are available; they realize that abilities and time constraints vary across the state.

FPO must be closely involved but they too need good information

Dan Cromer brought FPO into the picture by stating that within new construction and remodeling projects we need to have network infrastructure planned for in the same way we plan for electrical and HVAC needs. Joe Hayden pointed out that they often get incomplete information regarding the needs; consequently, retrofitting becomes a continual challenge. They often find that the needs were understated and that has led to the propagating of poor network practices via the use of hubs to overcome the scarcity of network connections.

Joe Joyce suggested that FPO be more proactive in determining true projects needs. Perhaps they need to talk with those who know the actual requirements rather than simply relying on what is initially supplied. He suggested that it is the end-user conversation that was missing from this process. Sheri Munn said that she would put this on the agenda for their next facilities meeting.

Chuck Frazier mentioned that asking how many network drops are needed is not enough. The details of the what spaces will be used for and what equipment will be installed must be investigated. He and Elwood Aust run into this continually all across campus and it's not just networking. The number and locations of A/C outlets need to be better estimated as well. It is a tough chore, but if you get with the users and ask enough questions you can usually do a better job.

Dan Miller asked if the campus space committee was involved in planning at the various remote office sites. Joe Joyce responded that those responsibilities are generally left up to each center and the unit head does the space allocation. IFAS central administration becomes involved where there is a major renovation requiring the use of PECO funds.

How is network maintenance budgeted?

Sheri Munn asked if the budget accounted for maintenance of the network. Dan Cromer responded that maintenance involves a roughly 9-year equipment replacement cycle and it is covered from the money paid to CNS. Dan Miller concurred that CNS expects to replace failed and aging equipment using the $50,000 portion of those monies which are dedicated to hardware. CNS expects IFAS to handle cabling upgrades and other facility upgrades as necessary.

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5.) ICC Updates

5.1) Current topics of IT interest

Steve Lasley reported that the ICC had no new formal recommendations to offer at this time. He did, however, mention a few topics which the ICC have been discussing and considering during the last couple of months:

  • The ICC has begun to discuss deployment of Windows 7, which is due out in October.

  • Through the efforts of Wayne Hyde we have also been working on our enterprise anti-virus configuration and investigating implementing scheduled on-demand scans to help improve malware infection detection.

  • The ICC has been involved in discussions with Patrick Pettus of UF Video and Collaboration Services on changing the way videoconferences are requested and scheduled.

  • We have been trying to keep our eye on the eLearning changes that are coming.

  • The ICC also has been interested in the changes occurring with myUF Market.

    Michelle Quire mentioned that in her experience, my UF market does not function correctly with Internet Explorer 8. She stated at everything works except the final step in placing an order. Chuck Frazier asked Tim Fitzpatrick if he was aware of this and Tim replied that he was not. Dan Cromer asked if Michelle had tried Compatibility View which essentially switches things to IE7 mode. Michelle said that she had tried that to no avail.

    Steve pointed out that, if true, this may be problematic because while IFAS manages things through WSUS server, which is not currently offering that upgrade, Microsoft is now pushing that out as a recommended update for folks who visit their upgrade site.

  • We are investigating moving to UF for our VPN service. This will not result in any great savings for IFAS, but it will be one other service which we believe can be outsourced without negative effect and permit us to better focus on our other core services.

  • Mike Ryabin in Ft. Lauderdale has wanted to investigate saving on long distance charges by carrying campus-bound VoIP traffic back to Gainesville over our data circuits rather than through their local telephone provider.

    Joe Joyce asked Tim Fitzpatrick if there was any update on that. Tim responded that it is not a high priority issue but remains on their list as a potential opportunity perhaps at some time in the future. Tim mentioned that there is a lot changing in telephony these days. What they do not like to see is the use of Skype or similar technologies to avoid the price of campus service. CNS is looking for something better but Tim doesn't feel that it is coming soon.

    Joe Joyce asked if there had been any departments which have completely unplugged and gone with wireless cell phone providers, as one of the IFAS centers has proposed doing that. Tim responded that he suspected there were sporadic instances here and there. CNS has heard that people are using Skype for long distance and using magicJacks to avoid Wallplate port charges. CNS views those technologies as "consumer-grade", "low-end", "quickie" approaches. Tim is confident, however, that just as VoIP on campus has changed the price structure for on-campus telephony, something is going to change things similarly for long-distance.

  • Steve pointed out that malware is increasingly entering out computers via vulnerabilities in third-party applications for which we do not currently have good centralized and automated patching solutions. The ICC continues to look for solutions, including the potential for using more manageable alternatives such as PDF-Xchange rather than Adobe Acrobat/Reader.

  • Finally, the ICC has discussed a recent update to Entourage, the Microsoft e-mail client currently used for Exchange server access by Macintosh computers.

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6.) IT Updates

6.1) UF Information Technology web site updated

Dan Cromer wanted everyone aware that the UF Information Technology web site has recently been revised and placed in production. There is a good deal of new information available about UF-level reorganization and centralization of IT.

6.2) Computer Support Wiki very close to production

Dan Cromer also mentioned the Computer Support Wiki which has been implemented. The implementers at Academic Technology still want to put some "rules of the road" in place prior to announcing this as production. The idea is for this to serve as a central repository for documentation that various IT folks across campus have developed for various aspects of IT configuration and usage.

6.3) Census for Exchange mailbox usage each March

Dan Cromer mentioned that every March, a census is done to count the number of Exchange mailboxes being used. IFAS currently has over 3700. All other units across campus are being billed $24/mailbox/year, but the charges to IFAS are reduced by the dollar amount of Dwight Jesseman's position which IFAS has donated to the CIO and the UF Exchange effort. Dan wanted to make IFAS departments aware that this is being paid off the top by the VP's office.

6.4) Blackberry licenses

Dan Cromer said that we have 134 Blackberry licenses at $23/year each. The renewal costs of these is also being covered centrally. Dan plans to work with Dwight on taking a census to ensure that people who stop using or convert from Blackberry to the iPhone are identified so their licenses can either be reused or removed. We take a census in March and are billed in August.

6.5) Office Communications Service for real-time communications

The final topic which Dan Cromer wanted to discuss was Office Communications Service (OCS). Time was running short, but Dan asked for a slight extension in order to do a brief demo of that software. This service is being managed by the UF Exchange team and information about OCS is now available on their web site, including how to get started using Microsoft Office Communicator and OCS Training for Technical Support.

Dan noted that OCS is similar to products like Skype or Microsoft Messenger whereby people can chat via text, voice and even video. It is superior, however, in that the communications are kept secure and internal to our organization and is integrated with Microsoft Office.

Dan's demonstration cannot easily be covered in these minutes, but anyone interested can learn more about this software via Microsoft's on-line Communicator and Live Meeting training.

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Next Meeting

The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for November.

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Items for Administrative Notice

  1. Keith Gouin will see to it that the Workload and Impacts web site reflects any changes in the RDU reporting procedures.
  2. Sheri Munn will place discussion of obtaining better input regarding network requirements for new construction and renovation projects on the agenda for their next facilities meeting.

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