IT-DISCUSS Archives

March 2001

IT-DISCUSS@LIST.UVM.EDU

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Subject:
From:
Peg Gagne <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Departmental Technology Coordinators <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Fri, 30 Mar 2001 16:03:05 -0500
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Kudos and cheers, we have been wanting to see movement in this direction
for awhile!  School of Nursing volunteers to be the test site!!

Peg

Greg MacKinnon wrote:

> Submit for your approval...
> A strategic realignment of IT services on the UVM campus.
>
> Why?
> When I started working here, my good friend Steve C. (last name hidden
> to protect the innocent) told me:  "The LAN is broken, Personal
> Computers are broken... Fix it!  That's your job!"  So I have taken up
> the task.
>
> What do you think?
>
> -Greg MacKinnon
> CIT Client Services
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> http://www.uvm.edu/~jgm/TopCat/
>
>    ----------------------------------------------------------------
>
>                               TOP-CAT!
>
>                       A Thin-Client Initiative
>                          for the UVM Campus
>
>                         Questions and Answers
>
>
>
>
> What is Top-Cat?
>
> Top Cat is an initiative to provide a "Ubiquitous Network Client"
> service to all members UVM family. Under a Thin-Client model, users
> would have cross-platform access to applications and data stored on
> centrally hosted systems. This model provides a consistent user
> environment, common tools for productivity, common authentication
> schemes, and secure file storage.
>
>
>
> Why do we need a thin-client solution on the UVM campus?
>
> As the mainframe died and personal computing exploded, the world
> decided that users of information systems each needed to have a PC on
> her desktop. Trends in software development supported this model, and
> pretty soon we were where we are today... every user has a monstrously
> complicated device capable of calculating the age of the universe to
> 1000 significant digits on her desk. These "PCs" are powerful,
> impressive, and a total pain in the neck. To give a PC to most people
> is a bit like picking up the groceries with a back-hoe... Yes, it can
> be done, but it is entirely UN-necessary.
>
> Further complicating the situation is the fracturing of the personal
> computing field. Individuals given free-choice of computing platforms
> and operating systems have made divergent choices. Some of us use
> Macintosh computers, some of us Windows. Obstinate individuals have
> installed Linux, Sun, and AIX workstations.
>
> On the back end, departments have made divergent choices in server
> technology. Some use AIX, others Sun. Many use NT, 2000, and Novell.
> An obstinate few use Macintosh servers. None of these solutions like
> to "play nice together".
>
> What we need is a new approach. We need an approach which captures the
> simplicity of the Mainframe/terminal era while maintaining the beauty
> of the Personal Computer Graphical-User-Interface. Thin client
> computing will deliver a stripped-down, simplified, common operating
> environment to users of campus information systems. No more
> complicated software installs, no more messy operating system fixes,
> no more patches and bug fixes. Your local system will only need to run
> the Top-Cat access software. It will look pretty and run consistently.
> It is all you will need to get your work done.
>
> What are the Pros?
>
>      Low user hardware requirements
>
>      Wide platform support
>
>      Extends workstation life
>
>      Consistent user interface
>
>      Simplified server-side file access
>
>      Simplified training
>
>      Decreased security risks at the user desktop
>
>      Lower "computer-knowledge" requirements for users
>
>      Faster desktop system software and hardware repair
>
>      Single point for upgrade of productivity applications and
>      services
>
> Come on... There has to be a downside. What is it?
>
>      Major retraining issues
>
>      Restrictive environment
>
>      V. High server hardware requirements. Many new servers will be
>      required.
>
>      Potentially poor video and audio streaming support
>
> I like details. What are some of the software packages you will use?
>
> On the server side-
>
>      Sun and Linux DCE/'DFS clients with PAM or Kerberos enabled
>      applications.
>
>      Linux Terminal Server Software (tftp loadable kernel)
>
>      X-Servers
>
>      Windows-emulation software (Wine, Win4Lin, or similar)
>
>      Oracle Forms Developer 6i for Linux
>
>      Other work-flow services... Lotus Notes?
>
>      VNC Servers
>
>      Apache servers
>
>      SSH/SFTP servers
>
>      SSL modules
>
>      Other services added with time
>
> For Clients-
>
>      SSH/SFTP Client
>
>      X-Server
>
>      VNC Client
>
>      Web Browser
>
>      Nothing else!
>
> Won't this cost a lot?
>
> No.
>
> I mean, yes. We will have to spend a lot on servers, and we will spend
> much time scurrying around deploying network clients. Further expenses
> will be incurred in retraining the staff. But in the long run, this
> will save buckets of money. Look at what we spend now:
>
>      Each user gets a PC. PCs are on a three-year replacement cycle.
>      Average business PC cost today is about $1500 dollars.
>
>      Every crash eats up support time. This costs money.
>
>      Every virus infection kills productivity and eats support time.
>      This costs more money.
>
>      Every lost file means time waster doing the same work over again.
>      More money.
>
> Moving to Thin-client, or Ubiquitous Network Computing, will slash
> these costs and let all of us get our work done with fewer
> interruptions.
>
> But I like my PC!!!
>
> That was not a question, but I'll see if I can answer anyway.
>
> Keep your PC. Top-Cat will run on top of your existing hardware. Use
> Top-Cat to publish an communicate with the campus. With all those idle
> processor loops you can calculate the age of the universe several
> times a day. Join SETI-at-home. Design a greenhouse-based sewage
> system for Burlington. Solve the productivity-paradox of the Wooly
> Mammoth. We will provide Top-Cat, you do the rest.
>
> I like pictures... Do you have a spiffy Visio diagram of Top-Cat?
>
> Of course I do!
>
> http://www.uvm.edu/~jgm/TopCat/diahtml/TopCat-net.htm
>
> What about screen shots?! I want screen shots!
>
> Okay, check out the Picture Page
>
> This is the craziest idea I have heard all month! Is this for real?
>
> As real as you want it to be. Let's talk about it...
>
>                                                    -J. Greg MacKinnon
>                                                   CIT Client Services
>                                                 University of Vermont
>                                                mailto:[log in to unmask]
>                                                           802-656-8251
>
--
Margaret P. Gagne, MS, RN
Director, Technology Based Learning
School of Nursing
University of Vermont
Rowell 237
(802)656-5822
fax (802)656-8306
http://nursing.uvm.edu



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