OIT Service/Issue Summary

Summary: A summary of the services OIT provides to the campus and the status as of March 30, 2001.

Telecommunication

OIT Services

  • Campus telephone system: currently 7,743 campus phones connected via 12 distributed phone switch (LIM) sites campus-wide.
  • Campus network “to the wall-plate” (units supply local network servers and end-user support) – approximately 14,000 IP#s in use.
  • Network services (Domain Name Service, directory services, e-mail delivery, mailing lists, etc. Averaging 760k messages/day through @UCI.EDU Mail Transport Agent (MTA) servers, 604k/day SPAM messages rejected.)
  • Network security services and coordination.
  • LifeLine Modem Service: 280 modems to ensure everyone has base-line remote network access.
  • 800mhz radio system (631 campus radios in Facilities Management, the UCI Police department, and other units).

Telephone and Radio Issues and Initiatives

  • Ericsson telephone switch installed in 1984, but has been well maintained and upgraded over the years. It well meets current needs – what about the future?
  • Voice over IP (the campus data-network): this may be how phone service is provided in the future, but at present it’s a costly proposition for something that won’t work as well as the current system.
  • Current and future Ericsson software supports a variety of new features that should be considered. Better support for cell-phones should be investigated – what else is needed?
  • 800mhz radio system is important to UCI police operations and disaster preparedness. It receives less attention than the network or telephone system – we need to ensure its in excellent shape for disaster communications (and power failures).
  • Links (data AND voice) to University Tower and North Campus need to be upgraded. We are working with PacBell to gain access to their conduit for our fiber, also looking at laser-based solution as an alternative.

Network

  • Backbone: is in excellent shape from $1.5 million upgrade two years ago (to a switched gigabit redundant core architecture). Need to upgrade some building connections – are there any other issues?
  • Building infrastructure: OIT continues incremental “edge” enhancements (currently Biological Sciences, planning College of Medicine, previous upgrades in Physical Sciences, ICS, and Engineering). Staff time has been an issue in determining the speed at which upgrades are implemented. What areas of the campus should receive priority attention after the College of Medicine upgrade?
  • Building wiring standards: Category-5, 10mbit/second switched. How important is 100mb switched? Is the decision to not pull fiber to all desktops still valid?
  • Outlying buildings: OIT is currently reviewing all spaces that are not wired for network access. Are there areas that should receive priority attention?
  • Internet 2 funding: OIT received $1.645 million from the state to improve network infrastructure. This is currently earmarked for a new border router and related infrastructure ($230k), CoM edge upgrade ($700-900k), additional bandwidth in PS ($30k) and elsewhere, bringing more faculty to 100mb, and upgrading building to backbone connections. Are there other network infrastructure priorities?
  • Network growth/maintenance funding: the current $1.2 million annual FTE-based recharge will need to be increased to manage network growth (the state Internet-2 funds postpone this). Can this funding be done “off the top”?
  • Off-campus connectivity: Is excellent via our participation in CalREN-2 and Abilene – UCI is connected via 155mbps (OC-3) pipe.
  • Off-campus traffic: peaks of 60Mbit/second IN and 40Mbit/second OUT; recent campus total average of 87Mbit/second, 52Mbit of which was from Housing. Housing currently contributes $50k toward off-campus connection costs.

Enterprise/General-Use Computing

OIT Services

  • E-mail accounts for all UCI students (“EA” – 17,264 active accounts)
  • E-mail accounts for all faculty and staff at UCI whose departments do not supply local services (“E4E” – 2,719 active accounts)
  • CorporateTime enterprise-wide electronic calendaring (over 800 current users in Humanities, Biological Sciences, Engineering, the administration, and other units)
  • 24 hour a day machine room, trouble-desk (and limited user assistance).
  • 8-5 networking/computing help-desk, plus student help-desks in OIT computing labs.
  • Indirect Support Team (IST): coordinating the activities of support staff UCI-wide, solving common problems, doing/assisting web development, technical training coordination, central technical expertise.
  • The OIT IST brings each of the following groups together approximately every other month:
    • SCCs: School Computing Coordinators are the lead computing staff in each school or unit.
    • CSCs: Computing Support Coordinators are the departmental staff that provide computing support (they often report to the SCC).
    • CLCs: Computing Lab Coordinators are the departmental staff that manage and maintain instructional computing Labs.
  • Distributed Computing Support: contract system administration services (see below under “Research”).
  • Software bulk/software license coordination.

Issues and Initiatives

  • OIT is continuing to enhance and fortify central e-mail services to encourage more units to make use of them, saving departmental efforts for end-user support (have made file-systems more fault-tolerant, added IMAP location-independent service, Web-based e-mail access, etc.). What is the future of e-mail services – will everyone have off-campus accounts? Is it important to encourage more departments to buy into a central strategy?
  • Corporate Time scheduling was added last year; it can greatly simplify putting people together. How important is this? Can/should OIT do more to facilitate its acceptance and use?
  • OIT has a goal to make central file-store available from multiple operating systems to campus-wide instructional labs and desktops. This would create a campus-wide vehicle for true file sharing, and create a new, highly-reliable place to store files accessible from anywhere on campus. It would also facilitate student data and configuration information being available from multiple campus locations, and from home. How important is this?
  • Excluding Educational Web support, OIT provides a limited amount of Web development and hosting services. Should this be expanded? Should UCI rely on off-campus Web developers?
  • OIT has a single person charged with facilitating access to technical training at UCI. What are the priority areas for training activities?
  • In contrast of days of old when central cycle-based services were predominant, OIT coordination activities have been an increasingly critical component of its service to the campus.

Education

OIT Services

  • About 250 seats of instructional computing labs located in Engineering Gateway, Multipurpose Science and Technology, Gateway Study Center, and Humanities Instructional Building
  • “Payprint” pay-for-print services in many locations (ICS, Social Sciences, Humanities, Biological Sciences, Engineering, etc.)
  • OIT Instructional Web Technologies group: a key participant in the campus Electronic Educational Environment (EEE) collaboration.
  • EEE Web site, course web site directory, course web assistance, course web tools (424 course web pages Winter 2001, 88 housed on the EEE server).
  • Course-based electronic mailing list system (1,365 active during Winter 2001).

Issues and Initiatives

  • Coordinating campus-wide instructional lab activities. OIT approach is to “gently” pursue standards and common support efforts campus-wide. Is UCI’s approach to computing labs too distributed? (4 central entities, and all schools, run their own computing labs). There is a need for campus-wide instructional lab capacity planning. Is it important to have the same software versions, same desktop/menu layout, etc., in campus computing labs?
  • EEE is a collaboration of OIT, the Division of Undergraduate Education, UCI Libraries, and the Registrar. There is a separate EEE Faculty Advisory Committee, and EEE staff from each department meet monthly.
  • Instructional Technology faculty outreach. Issues: some faculty are reluctant to use IT: imperfect technology, learning curves, insufficient “return on investment” of faculty time – should OIT/EEE/the-campus do more about this, or is it an issue? What are the relative merits of the common “empower faculty” approach vs. a “full-service” approach where staff do the bulk of the instructional technology preparation based on faculty materials? Should more attention be paid to leading-edge instructional technology applications?

Research

OIT Services

  • Assistant Director for Academic Outreach (Steve Franklin): staying in touch with academic activities and goals, planning, connecting faculty with common interests/needs, high-level issues, vendor relationships. (Instruction as much as Research)
  • Research computing specialist (Tony Soeller) to facilitate access to computing resources (San Diego Supercomputer Center, Physical Sciences SGI Origin 2000, academic software, etc.) and assist with software use and other research computing issues.
  • Distributed Computing Services: contract UNIX and other support services for researchers (and some instruction and administrative clients). Currently supports 600 systems; Engineering, Physical Sciences, and the Medical School are the biggest clients.
  • Research network facilitation and assistance; maintaining contacts with Internet-2, CalREN-2, and other organizations/networks important to UCI research.

Issues and Initiatives

  • High performance computing: how much does UCI need?
  • OIT staff dedicated to research computing application support has dwindled from 5-7 in 1990 to 1 now: has this central expertise been adequately addressed by local staffing? OIT has proposed to add a second Research Computing Specialist – what areas should that position focus on?
  • Distributed Computing Support: need to move toward “support the informal supporter” approach? How does DCS support integrate with local school support organizations? How important is it to provide Windows DCS SysAdmin support?
  • How else might OIT facilitate the use of computing and networking in UCI research?

General Issues

  • Outreach to the academic community is critical to OIT. How should OIT facilitate faculty awareness of services? How should OIT solicit input about current and future services? What is the best way for OIT to stay in step with campus goals and priorities? This OIT Advisory group is a part of this.
  • Long-range planning: OIT had tended to focus on the here and now, with a wealth of immediate issues to deal with at any given time. OIT needs to look to the future and develop 2-N year plans. Any immediate input on how OIT should go about this?
  • Staff retention has not been a major problem to OIT due to the attention paid to the issue (good working environment, reasonable salaries, etc.). It has been an issue in several units – is there anything OIT can do to help?
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