March 2001


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"Jessica L. Dion" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Departmental Technology Coordinators <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Mar 2001 15:59:46 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (122 lines)
On Tue, 13 Mar 2001, Alex Scortzaru wrote:

> Hmm..
 > - I tend to agree with Mike Austin..
> - but Steve Cavrak has some good points,
> - they both represent our leading IT unit,

I would guess that Steve represents himself, and he happened to decide to
play devil's advocate in this case, possibly just for fun.

> - debate is good,
> - debate is going on since Novell arrived in Campus,
> - debate grew even more when NT arrived in Campus,
> - and now Linux?

I agree wholeheartedly.  I would like to see members of the community
engaged in a dialogue about different technologies at UVM more often.
It's painful to witness isolated departments/groups/schools who are trying
to make informed decisions without actually communicating with anyone else
at the university.  Most of us have no idea what cool solutions other
groups have already come up with, and we really can't afford not to find

Dialogue is great - debate is great - even if nothing is resolved.  I
would like to see people at least think of central computing when they are
searching for solutions to their IT problems.  CIT is not an academic
department - we only exist to serve the UVM community.  We do not want to
grow and centralize everything arbitrarily.  We develop, maintain and
support resources in order to make other people's jobs (like yours) more
efficient, easier, more cost effective.

Imagine building a wonderful Inn, with comfortable beds, a nice common
room with a fireplace, and a great restaurant.  You open the doors to
invite your guests in, but instead you see many of them pitching tents on
the lawn and huddling under cardboard boxes, because... they didn't know
they were invited in, or someone told them tents were easier to maintain,
or maybe inns have bed bugs, or they want control over their own
environment, or they never looked up and saw the Inn.

Does this make sense?

This isn't the perfect analogy, but my point is..  if members of the UVM
community would like to see CIT change the services it provides, they need
to be vocal about it.  Next time you start complaining to the person
sitting next to you about central computing, stop and complain TO central
computing instead.  How can we improve unless you share your perspective
with us?  If your needs aren't being met, tell us what your needs are.

It seems like almost every group on campus is faced with scary budget cuts
once again.  In this environment, how can anyone afford to re-invent the
wheel?  How can UVM afford to pay a non-central IT person to investigate,
purchase, set up and maintain a file server for a dozen people, when we
already have a reliable, fast, secure file server centrally which already
serves thousands, integrated into everyone's existing accounts, backed up
nightly, and maintained for free?

That's why CIT advocates using central resources - it makes sense.

Even if your group does have needs that go beyond what CIT can provide
centrally, we are often willing to consult with you (for *free*), and help
you design a system that will integrate well with UVM's existing IT
framework.  Who but a fool would pass that up?

> - CIT invests lots of money in IBM's flavor of Unix (AIX) and Unix
>   based applications and services,

FYI - we are using other "flavors" of unix as well these days.. Solaris
and Linux mainly.    We use the best tool for the job.

> - departments invest lots of money in Linux, NT, Novell and their
>   share of services and applications,
> - my manager wants something on his table ASAP,
> - my manager wants something reliable which I will be responsible for,

Those are often mutually exclusive (nothing personal :-).  If my manager
wanted a web server (for instance) that was secure, reliable, scalable,
kept up-to-date, and required minimal learning for the people who were
going to use it (not yet another account with another name, password, and
file space), the answer would NOT be to deploy my own server just for our
school (which would cost many thousands of dollars in hardware and my
salary, and would be a nightmare to maintain if I ever left the position).

The answer would be to use Zoo.  Let me (the school's IT person) be
responsible for school specific things - neat projects and support
questions that are beyond the scope of central computing.. and let central
computing provide their services at a level I couldn't match anyway,
at 40 hrs/week.

> - I need to make a decision,
> - debate is still going on,
> - Mike wants me in, Steve says be careful,
> - other administrators are in the same boat,
> - should I hire a consultant (C2 maybe?),

Your manager would certainly be upset with you for hiring an expensive
consulting company that only offers one solution and doesn't consult with
central computing when designing their proposals, without first making the
best use of UVM's existing resources.  Before you waste money paying
people with fancy ties, you should set up a meeting with some of the
consultants who are already on campus - network with peers in other
schools who have already found solutions, talk to central computing about
your needs and find out if there is a solution that will increase the
level of services to everyone at UVM, including your department.  Many
people at UVM know more about computing than any consultant you could
afford - you just need to ask.

Sometimes a request from one small group will result in an increase in
quality of services for everyone.

> - or should I follow the University Requirements published at ????

Very good point.  Hopefully the IT Network will help with this one.  We
are an open enough community that I doubt you'll ever see university
"requirements", but I think having some "Best Practices" published would
be a very wise thing.

May the debates rage on..

                                        - Jessica Dion
                                          Computing Analyst, SNR and CIT