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November 7, 1990




                               Computer Committee

                      Fourth Floor Burruss Hall Board Room

                                November 7, 1990

                                      3 PM



        PRESENT:     Don Allison, John Burton, Joseph Cochran, John Cosgriff,

                     David Goodyear, Bob Heterick, Bea Mahan (for Kathye

                     Johnston), Gerry McLaughlin, Harlan Miller,

                     Teresa Hypes (for Mary Miller),

                     Lance Matheson (for Terry Rakes),

                     K. B. Rojiani, Richard Sorensen, Jay Stoeckel,

                     J. R. Webster, Mike Williams


        ABSENT:      Darrell Bosch, Joan McClain-Kark, Fred Medley,

                     Ernest Stout, Jeff Wilcke


        VISITOR(S):  Barbara Robinson and Bill Sanders (Computing Center)





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

        October meeting.




        Access to the inbound modem pool has been improved by Communi-

        cations Resources' actions to eliminate some trunk-line re-

        strictions.  A new number (232-9100) is now in use and the old

        numbers are being phased out.


        Mainframe usage for the first four months of the current fiscal

        year compares to the same period last year as follows:


        o   CPU usage is up, as always, VM by 25% and MVS by 12%.

        o   Disk space consumption is up 15%.

        o   IMS usage is up 15%

        o   Central printing has not followed its historic growth of

            10-20% per year, but has dropped by 15%.

        o   Connect time has dropped a few percentage points.

        o   Total billable charges are down 7%, which can be accounted

            for primarily by the shifting of usage to less expensive time

            periods, and also to decreased printing.


        While the University has been steadily moving toward distributed

        computing, demands on the central facility are also at an all-

        time high.  This is not unexpected, as software has not reached a

        point where distributed computing can be handled in a coherent



        The Center has promoted distributed computing by not competing

        for the SCHEV funds that departments have spent on computers, by

        providing training for workstation network managers, and by ini-

        tiating projects that facilitate the delivery of services to



        While a mainframe upgrade is necessary to deal with the capacity

        crisis, aging equipment, and large data applications, some compo-

        nents of computing that the Center has traditionally served may

        no longer be best served in the traditional manner.  Although the

        segment of users with the most demanding needs, doing high-end

        numerically intensive work, probably need a facility in the class

        of a 3090, the next segment might be served more effectively by a

        high-end workstation.  Until recently the economics of that kind

        of solution were not favorable, but today there are "desk-top"

        machines with performance that can begin to compete with the

        3090, at lower cost.


        Thus, as we identify the path of the upgrade, it may be appropri-

        ate to include a component to support small high-end machines.

        Funds continue to be unavailable for an upgrade, and a distrib-

        uted component in an upgrade budget initiative is unlikely to be

        viewed favorably by the state.  However, the Center feels the is-

        sue should be addressed, and solicits the Committee's input.


        Difficulties with a distributed approach should be kept in mind.

        If 20-40 workstations were purchased, how would recipients be

        chosen?  When the Computing Center purchases equipment, it plans

        for replacement.  How could the Center deal with the fact that

        departments have historically not done such planning, and could

        probably be expected to look to the Center for continuing up-

        grades?  How could functions that are handled centrally in the

        mainframe environment, such as User Services consulting, mainte-

        nance and systems programming support, be handled in a more dis-

        tributed model?  Should the Computing Center be mandating

        acquisition of computers when some recipients of workstations

        might feel the funds would be better spent in other areas?  The

        user of the mainframe has many activities, such as backup and

        systems programming support, handled for him by the central fa-

        cility.  When he moves to a workstation, he must assume the re-

        sponsibility for understanding and maintaining his own

        environment, which can can take a significant portion of his

        time.  Is this desirable?


        The committee might also want to consider ways to educate those

        administrators who are not convinced of the value of decentrali-



        The chairman of the Computer Committee will meet with the chairs

        of the Library and Communications Resources committees. He ex-

        pects to include input from those areas in the draft proposal he

        is preparing for medium range plans for computing at VPI&SU.

        Distributed computing is expected to play an important part in

        the statement.




        No subcommittee has met, but all expect to do so in the near fu-










        The next meeting will be held on December 5 at 3 p.m. in Burruss



        Meeting adjourned at 3:48 p.m.


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