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April 7, 1993



                         Computer Committee

                        President's Boardroom

                            April 7, 1993

                                3 PM



  PRESENT:     Terry Rakes, Sean Arthur, David Coe, John Cosgriff,

               David Goodyear, Katherine Johnston, Tom McAnge,

               Travis McCoy, Gerry McLaughlin, Harlan Miller,

               K. B. Rojiani, Patricia Summers, J. R. Webster,

               Michael Williams


  ABSENT:      Erv Blythe, Darrell Bosch, John Burton, Jan Carr,

               Wayne Clough, Glen Holmes, Carolyn Moore, Jay Stoeckel

               Ernest Stout, Jeffrey Wilcke


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





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

  March meeting.




  Migration of VM2 to VM1 continues.  Procedures for moving blocks

  of users will be tested with a few volunteer departments shortly.

  The plan for full migration by August is still on target.


  The Computing Center has been notified by IBM that support will

  cease next year for the obsolete operating system software used

  on Computing Center mainframes.  Upgrading to supported software

  is not an option on existing hardware which has incompatible ar-



  Use of unsupported software entails an element of risk which ap-

  pears unavoidable. Details on how support would be provided after

  the expiration are undetermined, but an arrangement at perhaps a

  reduced service level is expected.





  o   End User (Goodyear)


      The subcommittee met last month, and after considerable dis-

      cussion, concluded that changes in the computing environment

      point to a need to reevaluate the subcommittee's charge, par-

      ticularly in relationship to the charge of the Capacity and

      Planning subcommittee.  It may be appropriate to merge the

      committees. It was observed, however, that examination of ca-

      pacity issues would continue to be appropriate in a distrib-

      uted environment, and merging the subcommittees might

      diminish an important subcommittee focus.



  o   Capacity and Planning (Arthur)


      No formal meeting was held, although some discussion occurred

      concerning the relationship of the charge of the subcommittee

      to that of the End User Subcommittee.



  o   Workstation (Rojiani)


      No formal meeting was held, though work continued on tabulat-

      ing the surveys, summarizing respondents' comments, and pre-

      paring a report.



  o   Site License (Robinson)


      The subcommittee met in early March to consider sixteen pro-

      posals.  Seven were sufficiently complete to merit serious

      evaluation, but in all cases, there were questions about de-

      tails.  Another meeting will be held April 19 to reconsider

      the proposals and perhaps consider additional ones, which are

      still being accepted.


      A timetable will be developed under which proposals will be

      evaluated three times a year.  Publicizing the subcommittee's

      activities will also be discussed at the next meeting.


      One of the factors considered heavily in evaluating proposals

      was demonstrated interest in the software by multiple depart-

      ments.  The subcommittee also favored funding only initial

      costs, since it was felt that some experience would be bene-

      ficial before the subcommittee made any long term commit-

      ments.  Software receiving serious consideration at this time

      includes S-Plus, a UNIX-based statistical analysis program,

      molecular simulation software, and perhaps Mathematica.




  An underlying premise in the restructuring of the administrative

  component of computing, as well as other elements, is that both

  central and distributed computing cannot be supported on continu-

  ing basis with existing resource levels.  Ways to escape the

  bounds of expensive mainframe computing must be found.  This also

  offers the opportunity to take advantage of richer, more func-

  tional desktop capability.


  Benefits of moving to a distributed environment include elimi-

  nation of high cost to support the mainframe, improved access to

  administrative information, improved productivity in the office

  environment, more collaboration between administrative offices

  and departments, and a richer service environment for all infor-

  mation consumers.


  Examples of applications which could be available with desktop

  technology might include the ability to submit an electronic or-

  der for a product directly from the menu of state contract items,

  creation of leave sheets directly from personal calendars, and an

  electronic plan of study for students with built in audit checks

  that would track with student during their entire stay at

  Virginia Tech.


  For this initiative to be successful, all new and replacement

  systems must be consistent with the distributed computing envi-

  ronment.  Systems must have application programming interfaces

  that allow extraction and update of information in a reasonable

  way.  Most existing mainframe systems do not offer this capabil-

  ity.  In addition, a powerful, coherent and ubiquitous client

  infrastructure must be established.  Development projects must

  have a target client which can be supported with existing univer-

  sity staffing.  Although Information Systems will not dictate a

  platform, priorities will be set in order to efficiently focus




  Several projects are underway which fit conceptually within the

  goals described above, including the Human Resources and Enroll-

  ment Services Information Systems Projects.  Emphasis has been

  placed on setting goals in order to effectively measure progress

  and to insure alignment of the projects with global university

  interests and goals.  An administrative client project is in a

  formative stage, developing a client proposal.  Choosing a sup-

  portable client will be critical to the success of all projects.


  Over the next five years, these efforts and others will be able

  to not only duplicate, but dramatically exceed, mainframe capa-

  bilities that support administration.




  The Computer Committee's response to suggestions offered by the

  Commission on University Support regarding changes in membership

  and selection method has been forwarded to the chair of the Com-

  mission.  No response has been received.


  Computer Committee minutes will be exchanged with the Communi-

  cations Resources Committee to allow the two committees to become

  aware of issues of mutual interest as they arise.  No additional

  collaboration is planned at this time.


  Committee members were urged to take advantage of the scheduled

  meetings which will provide the opportunity for members of the

  Computer Committee to meet with candidates for Vice President for

  Information Systems.


  Subcommittee chairs were asked to submit a final report summariz-

  ing the year's activities by June 1.


  The Computer Committee chair will meet with subcommittee chairs

  to develop a recommendation for revamping subcommittees next

  year.  The proposal will provide a starting point for discussion

  at the first fall meeting, allowing new subcommittees to begin

  working quickly.



  The next meeting will be held on September 1 at 3 p.m. in the

  President's Boardroom.


  Meeting adjourned at 4:03 p.m.

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