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October 4, 1989

                                    MINUTES

                              Computer Committee

                     Fourth Floor Burruss Hall Board Room

                                October 4, 1989

                                     3 PM

 

 

       PRESENT:     Don Allison, Jim Baranowski, John Burton,

                    John Cosgriff, David Goodyear, Bob Heterick,

                    Katherine Johnston, Tom McAnge, Joan McLain-Kark,

                    Fred Medley, Harlan Miller, Jim Montgomery,

                    Richard Sorensen, Ernie Stout, Jim Thomas

 

       ABSENT:      Jeff Birch, Darrell Bosch, Randy Crockett,

                    Jim Hicks, Dennis Jones, Jeff Wilcke,

                    Mike Williams, Barbara Young

 

       VISITOR(S):  Barbara Robinson (for Mike Williams)

 

 

       AGENDA ITEM 1:  MINUTES OF THE SEPTEMBER 6, 1989 MEETING

 

       It was observed that Dr. Kriz is no longer on the committee and

       should not be listed as absent.

 

       Motion made, seconded and passed to approve the minutes of the

       September meeting, as amended.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 2:  COMPUTING CENTER ANNOUNCEMENTS (HETERICK)

 

       Dr. Heterick attempted to clarify the relationship of the commit-

       tee to the University Council.  The Self Study recommended that

       the membership of the University Council be reduced, with each

       committee reporting to a particular commission.  This is still

       under study.  The committee studying the matter was prepared to

       report when the President's announcement of a new vice presidency

       for economic development led them to decide to reshape the report

       in terms of the pursuit of the economic development issue.  All

       commissions are expected to continue to exist.  The Extension one

       will be changed to International Affairs and Economic Develop-

       ment.  There will also be a new one, Academic Support Services.

       Four committees will report to it, including the committees for

       CNS, Computing and the Library.

 

       The size of the University Council is still undecided.  The Com-

       mission Committee will probably make suggestions instead of a re-

       commendation. The possibilities include no change, an increase, a

       small decrease, or a substantial decrease to 21 members.  The

       committee favors the latter, but doubts it would be acceptable to

       the University.  It is the committee's feeling that only a radi-

       cal change would be worth the effort involved.

 

       Dr. Heterick also explained the organizational structure in In-

       formation Systems.  There are three components: computing, the

       library, and communications.

 

       The library's organization hasn't changed much in the past few

       years, and future changes are expected to be evolutionary in na-

       ture.

 

       The Computing Center  has also not changed dramatically.  The

       move to the new building and the growth in the use of PC's has

       precipitated some changes, however.  For example, delivering out-

       put is now expected to cost the Center as much as $500,000 per

       year.  The library is also expected to become more involved with

 

       delivering "mail".  Dr. Heterick is discussing the problem with

       David Ford and hopes to develop rational solutions.

 

       The group that has changed dramatically is CNS.  Changes have oc-

       curred in the number and kinds of personnel as they have moved

       from the design and development of the switch to its operation.

       They are also involved with integrating their activities with

       Learning Resource activities.

 

       There are now four groups in CNS:

 

       1.  The organization that runs the telephone utility, satellite

           uplinks, and cable TV.  They are 100% cost recovery and have

           a budget of 10-12 million dollars.

 

       2.  A network research and development group.  They are address-

           ing the growing desire for high speed networks on campus and

           off.  We have one of the most extensive network testing fa-

           cilities in the nation and are a principal test site for

           IBM's high speed network research.

 

       3.  A group led by Tom Head is involved with integrating the

           print shop activities with graphic media services.

 

       4.  A group led by John Moore is primarily concerned with tele-

           vision and dynamic images, rather than the static ones ad-

           dressed by Tom Head's group.

 

       A big issue for Information Systems now is how we relate to na-

       tional networks.  We are currently a member of VERnet, which con-

       nects six Virginia colleges and universities, along with the

       Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF).  The line

       speeds are slow, however, and we are proposing to NSF that we

       move to T1 speeds with a fully duplexed interconnected network.

       If this were accomplished, Virginia would have the largest and

       most comprehensive network in the United States.  Funding is an-

       ticipated from CIT, IBM, a consortium of Virginia colleges and

       NSF.  The network would provide tremendous opportunities for li-

       brary and computer research, as well as electronic mail and file

       sharing.

 

       We are also proposing that a backbone node at DS3 speed be in-

       stalled at Virginia Tech, and are optimistic that the proposal

       will be viewed favorably.

 

       There is also in Congress, supported by the administration, a pro-

       posal to build a national network, the National Research and Edu-

       cation Network (NREN).  It would provide capacity for contact

       with all research in the United States.  The large amount of

       traffic, however, can generate problems.  Of primary concern is

       inappropriate or bad traffic, such as viruses and pornographic

       messages.  It is clearly dangerous and will not be acceptable to

       allow anonymous access to networks, as is possible with terminal

       servers.  We must be able to trace traffic back to its source.  A

       policy is needed, and the committee will have to address the is-

       sue.

 

       There are cases where anonymous access is desirable, as in the

       library, where individual privacy may be infringed upon if search

       requests are monitored.  That's acceptable only when the local

       library catalog is involved, and ceases to be acceptable when the

       user moves to external networks.

 

       Some agencies have a solution for inappropriate traffic:

       propagators of undesirable messages lose their access to the net-

       work.  Such simplistic measures are undesirable.  As commercial

       entities join networks, however, tolerance for inappropriate

       traffic may decline.  The academic community is, however, at-

       tempting to convince Congress to take a "kinder, gentler" ap-

       proach.

 

       It was questioned whether we have the resources to provide every-

       one with userids.  Dr. Heterick said Information Systems is work-

       ing on that.  They are currently testing a system that will allow

       logging on to a network rather than a computer.

 

       A concern was raised about the possibility of increased monitor-

       ing of traffic to judge what's appropriate.  If messages are

       screened with an eye toward removing "chit-chat", the network be-

       comes less attractive.

 

       It was questioned whether the issue is more appropriate for the

       CNS committee.  Dr. Heterick said he expects the issue to also be

       addressed by them, as well as the Library committee.

 

       It was noted that one has to be careful not to condemn a network

       for the unacceptable activity of an individual using the network.

       Other solutions have to be found.

 

       It was also noted that some departments have userids used by de-

       partments rather than individuals.  Even if that were changed,

       the willingness of individuals to share their passwords would

       still present problems.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 3:  SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS

 

       The Personal Computer subcommittee will have its first meeting on

       October 10.

 

       The Computer Capacity and Planning subcommittee will have its

       first meeting October 27.

 

       The User Services subcommittee has had some discussion, but no

       formal meeting.  They feel the scope of their potential study

       subjects is too broad, and expect to narrow it, particularly in

       regard to the expansion of service to include PC's.

 

       The Library subcommittee has no chairman, and one will be ap-

       pointed before the next committee meeting.  They have not met.

 

       The committee is expected to meet November 1, December 6, January

       10, February 7, March 7, and April 4.  Subcommittees were asked

       to report by the March 7 meeting, in order to allow time for the

       committee to respond to their reports.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 4:  ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA

 

       None.

 

 

 

       The next meeting is scheduled for November 1.  It is tentatively

       planned to be held at the new Information Systems Building and

       will include a tour of the facilities.  This is subject to

       change, however, and the next meeting's agenda should be checked

       for confirmation of the meeting's location.

 

       The meeting adjourned at 3:55 p.m.

 

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