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  2. 2. Technical Services for Academic Computing (authored by Dan Hitchcock, adapted by Jim Qualls) There are currently gaps in the support that many campuses are able to provide which deprive them of: the opportunity to take advantage of cost savings on computer hardware; the ability to provide faculty and students with consistent convenient access to all the resources they need; and the opportunity to provide new services which will further the strategic academic goals of their institutions. The following proposal was developed after discussions with the academic computing directors to determine the most effective use of these resources. The choice of these services has been motivated by the following considerations: They are all services which can be provided effectively by a group at a remote site; therefore, first line support for users on the campuses is not included. They are all services where the effectiveness of the provider is enhanced by a broad range of experience. They are all services which help the institutions align their computing plans to take advantage of coming changes in the nature of computing. These services enhance the activities at the institutions but do not conflict with or replace them. It should be noted that some of the schools, especially UMCP, already provide some of these types of service; however, the other campuses have limited access to these resources. The proposed staff could serve as a very effective way of sharing expertise between campuses. Position 1: Ultrix/Unix Consultant -- Unix is being installed at increasing numbers of academic sites because it provides more cost effective computing than many proprietary operating systems and because unix computers facilitate the development and use of portable software. However, learning to manage a unix system is a daunting task for many system managers whose prior experience is with an operating system such as VAX VMS. The Bowie Service Center currently devotes approximately .5 FTE to ultrix support. Just to support the expansion of Ultrix at the former BOT schools will require another full FTE of effort. In addition, it is important to provide some support for other manufacturers' unix software in order to enable the institutions to take advantage of the most effective computer hardware and software for their missions. The major functions of this individual will be helping the campuses install and troubleshoot their unix
  3. 3. systems and providing training and unix consultation to the local staffs. Position 2: Distributed Computing Consultant -- One of the major features of the evolution of computing is the evolution of the client-server model in which a machine on someone's desk is provided a variety of services by other computers. Examples of services include file services, application software services, electronic mail, specialized application services, library access, etc. This model has significant advantages over the traditional mainframe or minicomputer models. The most important of these is reduced cost. For example, in a mainframe model certain types of upgrades can only be accomplished by replacing the whole computer. In the client-server model poor performance of a service, e.g. file services, typically requires adding a much less expensive file server. This results in not only lower overall cost but improved flexibility in responding to users' needs. In addition, the failure of a server can only affect its own services which makes the system more robust. Finally, the use of software servers simplifies the management of software on the computers on the desks and can result in significant gains to end users and local support staff. The price to be paid for this flexibility is some increase in complexity and in the expertise of the local staff in supporting this new environment. A consultant in this area would help the institutions avoid problems as they move in this direction. Position 3: Network Integration Consultant -- As we move into the future the computer network environment at the schools will become more complex. Many schools already have installed Novell and or 3Comm PC networks, Appletalk Macintosh Networks, token ring networks, and ethernets carrying Decnet and TCP/IP. As these networks become interconnected there are a number of difficult issues in determining what configurations are mutually compatible and in troubleshooting when there are problems. It is extremely important for a consultant in this area to have broad experience in order to enable him or her to help the local staff diagnose and correct these problems. In addition, there are many issues of overall network architecture: host addressing and naming, directory services, electronic mail addressing which would benefit from the full time attention of an appropriate professional. Finally, the world of computer networks is in a period of transition now driven by the Federal Government's initiative to deploy the National Research and Education Network and the emergence of the International Standards Organization protocols for computer networks. Both of these forces will have a strong impact on our computer networks and a great deal of planning is required to take best advantage of these forces. Position 4: Network Resources Consultant -- There are a
  4. 4. large number of information, software, and collaboration/consultation resources available over the internet which are accessible from every computer which is connected to the networks at the institutions. However, locating these resources and matching resources to needs at the institutions requires constant detective work because no global directory of these resources exists. Examples of these resources include the list of libraries available over the internet, academic software developed at NSF, DOE, and NASA centers (often available for free or at low cost), the various computer conferences such as the historical discussion group hosted in Finland, and the database of Dante scholarship at Dartmouth. A person in this position would respond to specific requests from faculty as well as perform a general tracking and information exchange function. Position 5: Academic Computing Planning Consultant -- While the institutions have done an adequate job of managing the capacity on their existing systems, they have not been able to as effectively consult with their faculty to discover new applications which could make the faculty more effective. Many of the faculty members, especially in departments which have not been users of academic computing previously, do not understand the ways in which computing could assist them and many of the computer support staff at the institutions do not have the time to understand the individual faculty members' needs in enough detail to propose alternatives to them. The role of this person would be to help the institutions bridge this gap so that academic computing at the institutions can better support the missions of the institutions. This effort can significantly enhance the academic reputations of these institutions and the system as a leader in the effective use of academic information technology.
  5. 5. e academic reputations of these institutions and the system as a leader in the effective use of academic information technology.on technology.e effective use of academic information technology. To Dist