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Committee on Information Technology

Minutes of the January 30, 2008 meeting of the
Committee on Information Technology

Present: Luis González, Jeff Muday, Anne Bishop, Rick Matthews, Jonathan Christman, Susan Smith, Wei-chin Lee, Hugh Howards, Jolie Tingen

The first agenda item was the final decision on a recommendation to IS to not reduce the standard load.  Luis stated that the committee made this decision in the last meeting but he wants to know if a formal statement is necessary.  Anne said that there is pressure beyond IS to reduce the load and a formal statement is necessary.  Jeff and Jolie offered to write a memo to Dr. Spano and the Provost.  Luis stated that Yip had previously suggested that we might be able to get better pricing on Dreamweaver in a software suite.  Anne said that Pat consistently looks at pricing for building the load.  Jolie said that Pat stated he would check if pricing for a software suite option was available through the consortium through which we buy software.  Jeff said that he and Jolie would write a memo for the committee to support the current load modality.  Luis said that the committee agreed that reducing the load would cause more problems than they solve.  Wei-chin asked if programs can be deleted easily.  Jeff said yes and that we can selectively hide software.  Jeff said that virtualization for getting pieces of the load may be an option in the future.  Anne said that we will have to revisit this issue when we move to Vista.

The second agenda item was an update on Google email (Jeff Muday). There is a request for project in IS and he is working with Chris McLaughlin.  The project is approved and is moving forward to clarify details for why we want to do the project and how we can do it.  Jeff said there may be a recommendation for us to do a pilot.  He also said there is not a whole lot of risk to the current infrastructure for the project.  Jolie will make the Google pilot RFP available on the CIT website. Anne said that Jeff has done a good job of outlining the issues.  This project will at least help us address the e-mail problem.

The third agenda item was a request to move to Blackboard 7.x for fall 2008 (Jeff Muday and Jolie Tingen).  Jolie said that we are far behind on upgrading Blackboard.  She said that she and Jeff had filled out a Request for Project form in IS to request the upgrade and would like to list the CIT as a requesting department sponsor.  Jolie asked if the committee would be willing to be a sponsor.  Jeff added that we need to stay current with our version of Blackboard so that we have support from Blackboard and to get critical fixes and updates to the software.  Jolie asked if the committee needs information on cost to endorse the upgrade.  She also said the cost information for Blackboard will be an important piece of information as we look at course management alternatives this spring.   We-chin asked if we could postpone the Blackboard upgrade until we have more information on alternatives.  Jolie said that she did not think we could wait because we are too far behind and evaluating alternatives could take a year.  Luis suggested the committee vote on the upgrade and CIT endorsement.  The committee agreed to support the recommendation to upgrade.

The fourth agenda item was a request that the CIT seek clarification on the current repair policies and see what can be done to better communicate them on a periodic basis to everyone concerned (requested by Stan Thomas).  Anne said that these details on are on the Technology Resources Agreement (hand out).  Departments are responsible for repairs.  Anne said she is unsure why there is confusion about this because the policy hasn’t changed.  Susan asked if insurance policies will be available for ThinkPads.  Anne said policies are available from Lenovo for $75 for two years.  Some home owner’s policies cover laptop theft.  The ThinkPad warranty is for two years and the battery warranty is one year.  Jeff has been looking at warranty information for computers and discovered his computer has a three year warranty.  Rick said that the school system gets that one year warranty when we sell computers to them.  Hugh asked about the Provost’s question about going to a three year rotation with the laptops.  Hugh likes this idea.  Rick said that CIT would be part of that conversation.  Jeff mentioned that batteries for a T60 are 10% of the cost of a new machine.  Anne asked what she can do.  Luis said that Anne could contact Stan. Susan said that information on repair policies and insurance could be part of the training script at distribution.  Hugh said that individuals shouldn’t be paying premiums to cover laptop repairs.  Wei-chin suggested that IS cover insurance for a small number of laptops, perhaps 20 or 50 computers, to cover work-related repairs for academic departments.  He added that perhaps this coverage could be allocated flexibly, if possible, to different departments each year for any repair requests.  Anne said the IS tried this kind of coverage years ago at a loss. Luis said Anne will talk to Stan and Susan can add this information to training scripts.

The fifth agenda item was a discussion on open source software (Luis).  Anne asks Luis to clarify.  Luis said we should look at open source software for the laptop.  Hugh suggested Allin Cottrell and Stan Thomas or someone from Computer Science to come and talk to the committee on the topic.  Hugh will ask CS to see who can talk to the committee.  Jeff suggested Tim Miller from IS to talk about open source.  Anne said that there is a consideration for not adding Linux to the laptop but do this through virtualization.

New business:  Hugh asked why we don’t have automatic backups for faculty in case a hard drive crashes.  This was available for Unix.  He wondered if this would be an appropriate use of funds.  Hugh said that the backups could be only for papers to save space.  Jeff said he thinks someone is looking at this.  Jeff said that in order for this to be effective, data should be stored at on off-site location.  This is expensive.  Jeff said there is not a good way to warehouse this data.  Susan said they are looking at an institutional repository.

Rick said that IS has been looking for help in setting priorities for their projects/workload.  IS feels it isn’t their place to decide one request is more important than another.  A committee for determining priorities will be formed through the Provost’s office and IS.  Rick is excited about this new procedure.  Rick said we need a different group for academic/administrative and academic/academic projects.  Jeff will be part of the academic committee.  He suggested involving the CIT.  He doesn’t think the academic committee should be the CIT because the committee will meet every two weeks and be very detailed.  He would like input on who should be on the academic committee.  He also thinks there should be representatives beyond the college such as other schools in the university.  He said that this decision could be made next month.  He suggested that we send him ideas and the initial group could be fluid.  Rick hopes that these groups will be able to operate by consensus.

Luis asked Anne about the security policy.  She said there is an interim director for security from IBM.  They are focusing on IS solely first.  This new person is trying to draft policies and she is unsure of her timeline.  Anne mentioned that laptop encryption is an option and looked at the open source solution TrueCrypt.  Mike and Carl wrote a key encryption module for it.  She hopes that this will be deployed this fall.  She thinks that Nancy will meet with the cabinet Jay formed soon to update them on the security project status.  Anne said that IS is even looking at where everyone sits in IS and the whole bottom floor will be locked.  She said there is a really good security team looking at these issues.  Rick said that the Banner revamp is tied to this.  Wei-chin asked if there was a security violation.  Anne said no.

Luis said the next meeting is February 27.  Jolie will bring Blackboard survey results.

Respectfully submitted,

Jolie Tingen

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