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Computing and Network Services University of Alberta Networking Computers and People on Campus and Beyond

Strategic Plan for Computing and Network Services February 1992 Table of Contents

Purpose of the Plan Mission of Computing and Network Services Goals and Objectives Key Strategic Issues Technology Evolution Networking Research Computing Instructional Computing Administrative Computing Policies and Procedures Coordinating Computing Initiatives Organizing CNS Marketing Finance and Partnership Strategic Directions and Action Plans Research Computing Services CAI and Computer Labs Central Services Professional Services Institutional Data Data Communications Network Sharing Expertise Numerically Intensive Computing Funding Partnerships Communications Program Standards Leveraging Technology New Funding Sources Charging for Services Reorganization Acknowledgements Purpose of the Plan

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Networking Computers and People on Campus and Beyond outlines the computing directions to be pursued by Computing and Network Services (CNS) in collaboration with the user community over the next four years. The change in the name of the University's computing department from University Computing Systems to Computing and Network Services is directly related to the strategic planning process and is more than a verbal exercise. It is meant to reflect a renewed emphasis on a client-centered service orientation and it refers to networks in order to convey the growing importance of network services in the university context. The computing directions in the plan were derived by analyzing campus computing as it is today and by looking ahead to a future computing environment that will allow the University to be competitive in education and research. Planning is mandatory in the current environment. Information technology is changing rapidly and computing is now campus-wide. Coordination of technology evolution and interoperability of different computer systems are real issues. At the same time, financial constraints that many universities are experiencing

require the focusing of resources. This plan constitutes a means to formulate, with user participation, common goals for computing on campus. It allows the University to organize and focus human and technological resources in an efficient and economical manner. Strategic planning activities have taken into account the input of individual campus users and University departments, the report on University Computing Systems by the President's Advisory Committee on Campus Reviews, the Task Force reports of the University Computing Advisory Group (UCAG), and the results of the Computing Environment Survey. The latter two initiatives were carried out under the auspices of Dr. Lois Stanford, VicePresident, Student and Academic Services. This plan is only the beginning of an exchange of information with the user community. CNS wants collaboration to continue through new user advisory committees and individual and departmental contacts. The computing environment is complex and we need to hear about campus computing needs and priorities. Strategic Planning Process Strategic planning activities commenced at Computing and Network Services at the initiative of the CNS Director, Dr. Monica Beltrametti, shortly after her appointment in April 1991. CNS staff were encouraged to participate in the process with an online discussion pertaining to CNS services and the future directions of the computing service organization. This was followed by the compilation of planning working papers, based on weekly meetings of CNS staff and managers, and a discussion of the working papers with UCAG Task Force chairs and then the whole UCAG committee. Early in October, planning activities crystallized in an intense set of week-long sessions which included senior University administrators, UCAG Task Force chairs, and CNS management. The sessions were facilitated by Bill Beairsto, a professional with over 25 years experience in the computer communications industry. Phase I of the facilitated planning involved the University President, Vice-Presidents, and the Director of CNS. Agreement on the mission of CNS was the result. Phase II of the process, involving UCAG Task Force chairs, the Vice-President of Student and Academic Services, and the CNS management team, developed high-level goals and pinpointed information technology areas of strategic importance to the University. With these strategic areas in mind, in Phase III CNS management decided on the future direction of CNS by weighing various options against the resources available. Phases IV and V, also involving CNS management, developed a consensus on an action plan to give the strategic options a concrete basis in the activities of CNS. Strategic Plan Outline The CNS Mission Statement, found in Chapter 2, is the foundation of all CNS activities. Chapter 3 of the plan lists CNS goals and objectives. Goals describe what CNS must achieve to fulfill the mission statement; objectives are shorter-term indicators of success in moving toward the goals. Chapter 4 of the plan, "Key Strategic Issues," provides a discussion of important areas of information technology at the University. Each area of computing

is analyzed from the point of view of where technology is heading, the current context we find ourselves in, and the various options CNS has to contribute to each area. Chapter 5 of the plan, "Strategic Directions and Action Plans," shows where CNS will focus attention in the next few years. Mission of Computing and Network Services

Computing and Network Services and senior University administration have developed a mission statement defining the purpose of the department. Mission Statement The mission of Computing and Network Services is to provide value to its clients through leadership in innovative computing and information-technology solutions to support the teaching/learning, research, and public service goals of the University of Alberta. By the optimal application of available resources, CNS provides the required computer/ communication and professional services, including the infrastructure to integrate the various systems throughout the University. The components of the CNS Mission Statement are defined below. "Value to its Clients" Computer and data communications technology is complex and evolving rapidly. Even though information technology is within reach of many today, great efforts are required to use it to its full potential, efforts often far beyond what a user is willing to expend. CNS services and expertise must provide value to clients by enabling them to apply information technology more effectively and economically. Minimizing the burden of maintaining computer resources allows users to concentrate on their academic endeavors. Value is also provided by access to facilities and services that are best shared among users, such as a network infrastructure and costly equipment. Clients of CNS include faculties, academic departments, service and administrative units, individual researchers, instructors, administrators, staff, and students of the University of Alberta. "Leadership" Computers are spreading across the campus and users have the capability to implement their own computing solutions. CNS must ensure that these solutions are compatible with each other and with central infrastructures. CNS must be pro-active and provide leadership in anticipating trends and in advising on the acquisition and use of information technol-ogy. "Innovative Computing and Information Technology Solutions" To exploit technology to the maximum, CNS must make inventive use of the variety of technology available today. It is our mandate to capitalize on the University's current and future computing investments through innovative information-technology solutions.

"Support the Teaching/Learning, Research, and Public Service Goals of the University" The University's mission is to excel at teaching and research and the primary mandate of CNS is to support these mission-critical activities. CNS services for the University's administration and the wider community are in support of teaching and research activities. "The University of Alberta" The University of Alberta is defined as all the organizational units included in the University's consolidated financial statement. CNS will only provide services to other users if they are requested by members of the University of Alberta, and if the requests are in direct support of University activities. Exceptions to this policy will be considered very carefully. "Optimal Application of Available Resources" CNS must apply resources in a way that achieves the highest return on investments. We must show entrepreneurial spirit in finding and applying technological, human and financial resources on campus and elsewhere. "Provides the Required Computer/Communication and Professional Services" It is the mandate of CNS to provide central computer and communications equipment that benefits a large user base. CNS provides professional services for utilizing this equipment and also provides services to users in support of the acquisition and use of distributed computing facilities. "The Infrastructure to Integrate the Various Systems throughout the University" CNS must create the necessary computer and human communications framework to provide an integrated distributed computing environment which ensures interoperability and appropriate exploitation of hardware, software, and computing knowledge. Goals and Objectives

The following goals and objectives are to be achieved over the next four years. The goals describe what CNS must achieve to fulfill its mission successfully. The objectives are shorter-term indicators of success in moving toward the goals. Objectives are formulated in terms of numbers such as percentages and increases; or in terms of perceptions gathered through opinion surveys or evaluations. It is the intent of CNS to carry out an annual opinion survey to gauge the requirements of clients and the progress made toward fulfilling goals and objectives. Value to Clients Goal To provide, by December 1994, nationally recognized value to our clients which is comparable to that found at the top three

computing service departments in Canada's foremost universities. Objective * Measure the perceived value of CNS to the University through the annual campus opinion survey. We will rely on our clients and their contacts in other universities throughout the country to rate us in comparison with other computing services departments. Leadership in Innovative Solutions Goal To be recognized, by December 1993, as a leader in the development and implementation of innovative computing and information-technology solutions in comparison to other organizations with similar applications. Objectives * Establish a procedure to identify and track the implementation of innovative solutions. * Record the number of implemented innovative solutions on an ongoing basis. * Annually count the number of innovative solutions delivered or facilitated by CNS and increase the number annually. * Verify the perception of CNS as a deliverer of innovative solutions via the annual opinion survey. Services Goal To provide a range of services, by December 1994, which meet the needs of our clients so that they can have a competitive edge over those at or from other organizations. Objectives * Measure on a yearly basis the change in the number of new services offered, and the number of out-dated services deleted. * Increase the number of services that are highly-rated in the annual survey and increase the overall rating we achieve on all services. * Measure user perception on a yearly basis to determine how well CNS services enable our clients to excel in being competitive with their peers. Infrastructure Goal To spearhead, in cooperation with other units on campus, the development of human, communication, and information technology infrastructures which provide the highest level of effective and efficient use of physical and human resources of any Canadian university by December 1994. Objectives * Make network access available to all campus clients by December 1993. * Make access to CNS network services, such as electronic mail and file transferring, available to all campus clients by December 1994.

* Measure annually the number of campus clients with network access. * Measure yearly the number of network services available and used by campus clients. * Measure annually the number of people who perceive benefits from participating in CNS facilitated special interest, planning, and working groups. Application of Resources Constraint * Apply the available resources in an optimal way such that our goals are achieved. Key Strategic Issues

A state of the art information technology environment is mandatory to maintain and improve productivity in research and the quality of instruction, and to facilitate the University's administration. Advances in many areas of information technology have given rise to tools that facilitate and enrich university activities. Those institutions which fail to exploit them will be left behind. Information technology services must be aimed at providing an adequate infrastructure to meet the University of Alberta's academic agenda. These services must be driven by the specific requirements of the user community, comprising faculty, students, staff, and administrators; they must relate to the future evolution of computing. As there is a broad range of rapidly evolving technologies and as university budgets are generally shrinking, it is very important that services be established to ride the technological wave in the most economical manner. Not long ago, most universities' computing resources, both human and technological, were concentrated in central computing departments. Clients were mostly scientists and engineers, later followed by social scientists needing high-speed statistical computations and administrators automating institutional processes. In contrast, hardware/software and computing expertise today is distributed widely over the campus. The emergence of microcomputers, with their ease of use and affordability, has opened new frontiers for research, instruction, and administration. A growing user population, extending beyond the traditional groups, is now acquiring computing equipment and hiring, training, or becoming computing experts. The role of a central computing organization like Computing and Network Services has clearly changed. The primary justification for its existence now, is to provide added value to the spreading and diverse computing resources and expertise on campus. Freedom has to be left to the departments to come up with their own computing solutions, but a central computing organization has to ensure that these solutions are interoperable. It has to provide a network infrastructure and the technical expertise and leadership to help users make effective use of network computing. Only then can the University reap the benefits of a seamless distributed computing infrastructure in which a desktop computer

can access a library catalog, student records, a color printer across the campus, or a supercomputer across the continent. Another important role for a central computing department is to exploit economies of scale. Site licence agreements for software, providing access to equipment that is best shared among departments, and offering general purpose tools and services are all functions that improve the cost-effectiveness of computerrelated tasks on campus. There is a new service that central computing organizations have been asked to provide. Departments with a variety of computing equipment are concerned about the amount of time spent looking after computing tools instead of on academic, instructional, and administrative tasks. They are now looking back to central organizations for expert advice on standard solutions to integrate their working environments, and for the day-to-day upgrading and maintenance of computing tools. In contrast, some services can now be better provided by other departments. For example, CNS presently offers support for programming in numerical computation, statistical analysis, and administrative applications but as information technology spreads, touching all campus entities, it will be difficult to provide central programming support for all disciplines. The level of expertise and the specific knowledge required will be difficult to provide and if, indeed, departments look for assistance with their programming tasks, they will probably find better service in other organizations specializing in their particular field. More and more turn-key solutions will be available from these organizations. The issue of who should design and implement application software will have to be constantly monitored and reassessed. Generally, we want to position CNS to provide expert advice at the system software and hardware level, leaving discipline-specific application development work to the departments whenever possible and practical. CNS must carefully choose the services it will provide. Focus has to be on providing services that help a large user base, services that CNS can provide better than other departments or agencies, and services that improve the cost-effectiveness of information technology on campus. In the following sections, we discuss various areas of computing and analyze the options that CNS has in providing services. Technology Evolution The variety of old and new equipment on campus interoperability and maintenance a real issue. universal financial constraints, this requires implementations on campus be planned even more the past.

makes Combined with that technology carefully than in

Central funding for CNS for capital acquisition of computing equipment has decreased by a factor of eight in the last five years. At the same time, the service department's shift from centralized to distributed computing support has been indecisive and incomplete. As a result, computing resources and services

have failed to keep up with either technology or demand. Today, we are more than five years behind in mainframe technology and the campus community only benefits from a modest central support for distributed computing. The campus is very much aware of the technological lag. The CNS strategic planning pro-cess has provided incentive to think about how we can realistically close the gap between where we are now and where we need to be. Our clients are ready to collaborate and are supportive. They have a large installed base of relatively new equipment in their workplaces and will welcome support based on our experience with networks and large mainframes. CNS will have to face a number of challenges to make the appropriate transition. The department has suffered from a lack of focus and as a result has been perceived as hidebound and backwards. CNS will have to work hard to keep up with rapidly evolving technology; it has to gain more expertise in distributed computing, and apply good judgement in bringing forward appropriate technologies to solve problems. There are several options to consider in creating the computing environment necessary for the University to be efficient and competitive: * CNS could decide to stay at least one generation behind in the technology. While remaining one generation behind might be entirely satisfactory for one set of clients, such a strategy would severely impact those who need to be at the forefront of technology to compete with other universities. * CNS could form an alliance with one or a few vendors and implement their specific set of technology. This could result in a limited set of solutions being available quickly and easily, which is satisfactory for some clients, but could be too restrictive for others. A possible danger is being locked out of important new developments. * Selected technologies could be picked from several sources and CNS could integrate them on an "as required" basis to achieve the maximum utility with the limited resources available. This would demand constant attention to maintenance of interfaces between technologies to ensure continued usability. * CNS could define an integrated system architecture, setting a direction for the maximum benefit of all our clients. Unfortunately, this solution demands resources far beyond those available today and in the foreseeable future and does not allow new computing investments to build on those of the past. * Finally, CNS could carefully choose new technology for strategic applications and refrain from using leading-edge solutions for the base set. This has the advantage of focusing our energy on the strategic needs of the University but would be an unsatisfying situation for those users and staff left behind. Preferred Course of Action Given the strictures of our current environment, where new investments must build on those of the past, and where CNS attention can only be devoted to restricted applications, we

must rise to the challenge of providing the best possible solution with a carefully selected mix of new technologies for strategically important areas blended into the existing set. This will require diligence in rationalizing our offerings to avoid expensive and unnecessary duplication. Constant attention must be given to ensuring that the interfaces between new and old technologies are usable and efficient and that new technologies bring the desired return to missioncritical endeavors. Networking With the advent of distributed computing, users have the possibility to realize their own solutions with a growing variety of often incompatible technologies. Exchange of information among this diverse equipment is essential. As more and more data is put on-line and stored across the campus and elsewhere, and as it will include images, text, graphics, sound, and digital signals, the demand on communications will steadily increase. A seamless infrastructure has to be developed to ensure that each user has access from their personal workstation to the full hierarchy of resources available both inside and outside the institution. Many benefits become available via the network. Users gain the ability to communicate with peers through e-mail and electronic conferences. They can access local and remote library catalogs and institutional and discipline-specific data bases. Through sharing, more equipment becomes available to the user: specialized computers and peripherals like printers and plotters. Software tools are now available that support distributed services to clients over the network, such as software upgrades and backups of data and programs. Networks can provide a greater return on the campus investment in workstations. Tools are emerging to tap into the computing power spread over the campus, enabling workstations to exploit idle compute cycles from other workstations over the network. Networks also allow users to tap into off-campus computing power. Researchers, for example, can access supercomputing facilities which are too expensive to be supported by a single university. The goal today is to provide connectivity with a hierarchy of networks. Local area networks (LANs) connect to wide-area networks like a campus backbone which in turn connects to national and worldwide nets. To deal with the huge quantity of data to be transferred, emphasis has to be placed on new technology such as fibre optic networks using the Fibre Distributed Data Interface (FDDI). In the coming years, we will see much more software providing the transparency necessary to make the underlying network connections easy to use on a variety of equipment. Not all network software available today has reached the desired level of maturity. There are various factors that put the University of Alberta in a good position to implement a fast campus network with good connectivity to the rest of the world. The University has gained some experience with the network, which today connects parts of the campus and provides worldwide connectivity through the Internet. CNS has capable staff who can plan, implement, and

maintain advanced networking technologies. The presence of the campus tunnel system and experienced Physical Plant staff greatly reduce the investment that would otherwise be required to install a backbone network. We are also planning for our network at the right time. Fibre optic networks have emerged as the viable, industrial strength technology of choice and, as evidenced by the UCAG Task Force reports, there is wide campus support for moving on to the next generation of backbone networking technology. A national initiative is underway to increase the capacity and speed of the backbone Canadian network by 1993. The improvements proposed for the Canadian Network for Advanced Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE) could coincide with the first installments of a campus backbone, giving campus users the right communications speeds to make appropriate use of CANARIE capacity. Despite these positive factors, networking the campus will present several challenges. Facilitating central funding for the backbone network, and departmental funding for LANs to be connected to the backbone, will be challenging. Difficulties are anticipated in migrating the coaxial connected workstations and older or incompatible LANs to the new fibre optic backbone. Carrying the burden of existing technology while developing the staff skills and campus support infrastructures for the new technology will be problematic. Throughout, there must be cognizance of the emerging networking technologies along with their appropriate incorporation into the campus network. The University is seeking leading-edge network solutions. There is a risk that without due care and attention it could find itself on the "bleeding edge" of an unproven emerging technology. Similarly, it may be that the total networking costs are beyond what the University can afford, resulting in erosion of the University's standing compared to peer institutions within Canada. Network technology develops at a fast pace and the life cycle for a particular implementation is often only five to seven years. By far the greatest risk is in choosing a technology that proves to be a dinosaur in the long run. Given this context, there is a range of networking options for CNS to consider. * In the area of LANs, CNS can provide departments with requirements analysis, installation cost estimates, coordination of installation, user training, and contract LAN administration on request. Options related to the campus backbone network are more numerous and demand more planning. * The University could refrain from implementing a fibre optic backbone altogether and could instead install bridges between the LANs on campus. This would, however, reduce the effectiveness of the network to that of its slowest LAN. Bottlenecks would occur and the high-speed communications sought by many in the user community would not be possible. * The University could install a fibre optic backbone, choosing either a one-time complete installation across the campus or a phased implementation over three years. The complete

installation option is expensive and there is a risk in committing everything to a particular technology at a particular time. In contrast, the phased option amortizes the required investment and can exploit declining prices as technology evolves while affording appropriate reviews of networking strategies. * There is also the possibility of contracting out the provision of campus networking to one of the major telecommunications technology vendors such as IBM, AGT, ED TEL, or Digital. It is likely that such an arrangement would result in a proprietary implementation requiring a sole vendor relationship for up to five years. There are dangers in relying on a single vendor for a strategic service. * Outsourcing the provision of campus networking to ED TEL as a "pay as you use" utility is an option. This would place the University, as a high-volume user, at great disadvantage in having to pay for each packet of message data. * Forming an alliance with an emerging FDDI technology vendor would accrue cost reduction benefits above those normally received through privileged customer discounts. Due care must always be taken to ensure that University staff resources are available to support such arrangements and that the vendor has similar relationships with other institutions. * Seeking economies of scale through intra-university arrangements is an option. By choosing a common technology, all members could achieve beneficial pricing arrangements through volume purchases from selected vendors. Due to the variety of products in the marketplace, and the differing needs of universities, this option has been impractical in the past. * Undertaking to provide a fully functional seamless network to the campus is an option. This would require the imposition of standard hardware and software across the campus. It would necessitate a high focus of staff and funding and a departure from the freedom of choice extended to faculties and departments within the collegiate fabric of the University. Preferred Course of Action The most important requirement for connectivity and computer interoperability is the presence of a fast backbone network linking campus computers to each other and the outside world. There is concern that a single-vendor solution for the network will unduly expose the University to a severely limited set of choices in the future, based upon how such a vendor may see their position in the market at a given time. Consequently, the University must seek a networking solution that is nonproprietary and capable of evolving according to the best technology of the time. Within this framework, CNS sees the first priority as the installation of a campus fibre optic backbone. Design and installation of the backbone will be primarily self-contracted by the University. There are clearly scenarios where cooperation with industry and other institutions will be of benefit, and they will be explored, but not at the risk of compromising what is one of the most advanced network initiatives at a Canadian

university. Through careful selection of software tools and by defining communications standards, CNS will provide access to computing resources across the campus as transparently and seamlessly as possible. Research Computing Research computing can be divided into numerically-intensive computing (NIC) and the other wealth of research computing that is nowadays performed primarily, but not exclusively, on workstations, ranging from choreographing a ballet to composing music to cataloging and analyzing archaeological collections. In the past, numerical computing obtained the most attention but as more types of research of equal value are being done with the help of computers, universities are devoting more effort to providing appropriate information technology to all parties. Numerical computing will see significant changes in the next decade. Researchers will continue using a hierarchy of resources, ranging from workstations to mid-range computers to high-powered supercomputers, and we will see significant evolution in all these computer architectures. It is essential that we get on the evolutionary path for our researchers to remain competitive in their fields. There is a need to provide ever more cost-effective workstations integrating multimedia tools. Leading companies are building the next generation of high-performance computers. These machines will be parallel computers and will arrive on the market in a big way in two to three years. The hope is that eventually these new architectures will allow scientists to attack the grand challenges of numerical computation. Numerically-intensive computers are today being progressively linked with scientific visualization systems. These systems allow simulations to be analyzed in three dimen-sional space that is more in tune with human perception. New insights are possible when terabytes of raw data, generated by computers, laboratory instruments, and sensor technology, are visually represented in real time. Tools for both mathematical and statistical analysis are migrating from mainframes to workstations. Although workstation versions of these tools cannot yet handle problems as large as their mainframe counterparts, they excel in ease of use and over time they will become dominant. Our science will also be refined to the point where expert help is only needed in exceptional circumstances-the software will choose correct parameters in the vast majority of cases. Publishing the results of research, for example, used to be the exclusive domain of the professional printer but most publishing functions have been automated in today's desktop publishing software. Positive developments are occurring in research computing. There is an increased awareness in government of the strategic economic importance of a national high-speed network which can draw together the nation's researchers in collaborative endeavors. There is growing support for a national supercomputing centre to

exploit economies of scale for researchers requiring expensive and powerful facilities. At the same time, research computing users presently find themselves in a buyer's market. Costeffective and powerful workstation and mid-range solutions for researchers are readily available. Given the increasing breadth in the use of computers in the research community, and the increasing depth of applications, CNS finds itself in a difficult position. CNS has not changed as fast as the times. Some shortfalls in our set of skills, such as UNIX and scientific visualization, will have to be quickly overcome, but resources are not always available to start new support activities. CNS can either choose to support many areas of research computing in a superficial way or concentrate on a few services in depth. There are several options to consider in the area of research computing: * CNS could confine itself to the services it currently offers but this would not allow it to react with more support for the spreading computerization in research. * CNS could rationalize current services by emphasizing systemlevel support and by encouraging departments to independently develop discipline-specific applications. CNS could provide advice on statistics and NIC tools but would not help solve the users' research problems. This would agree with our goal of leaving application work to departments and would release resources for new services. * Some services could be outsourced, such as the development of tools and utilities. This could have some financial benefits, but care would have to be taken to keep proper control of contracts and to ensure adequate quality of services. * CNS could provide researchers with access to increased computing capacity. For the NIC users, it could provide access to a supercomputer facility in Alberta and strike agreements with North American supercomputing centres. CNS could also provide users with innovative ways of networking workstations to take advantage of unused capacity. * CNS could further facilitate the acquisition and maintenance of specialized resources, such as a visualization centre. * Funding efforts could be facilitated by CNS. It could act as a partner in the research lobby to amplify the effectiveness of our clients in dealing with funding agencies and vendors. It could also coordinate (and perhaps fund) the acquisition of site licences and volume purchase agreements for software that is either in wide use on campus or in heavy demand. * CNS could help coordinate the computing knowledge of our researchers. It could facilitate the writing of user manuals and handbooks and the formation of cooperatives with common interests. (This support applies to a wider group than the research community.) * CNS could help researchers with the day-to-day management of equipment, helping sites with complex computing environments.

There has been high demand for this service, which could be provided by CNS staff alone, or by staff jointly appointed by CNS and faculties. Preferred Course of Action Current services for research computing will be rationalized and departments will be encouraged to develop disciplinespecific applications independently of CNS. New services will be in support of new demands. There is a clear and immediate need for the support of computing in the workplace, rather than in the computing centre. Instead of faculty spending valuable time tending to computers and software, CNS can help researchers manage their facilities. Bulk purchases of software, and training in the use of common packages, are ways to exploit economies of scale across a wide institutional base. Finally, to enable our researchers to be competitive, we will facilitate access to increased computing capacity on and off the campus. Instructional Computing In the next decade, we will see the spreading of multimedia instructional material and a growing student population both on and off campus. The network will extend the classroom to other universities, institutions, and private homes; it will offer students remote learning and the best education, even if specialized expertise is not available locally. It will be an enormous challenge to provide the software, hardware, and the enabling technology for the new instructional environment. The University has been asked for its commitment to start planning for this revolution. It must face issues involving copyright restrictions, rewards for designers and developers of instructional material, financing of and access to instructional equipment, and many others. Presently, the University is trying to solve some of these problems in a disjointed fashion, leading to frustration for the many individuals involved who are unaware of the procedures to follow. The precise role of CNS in this field has to be defined as part of the planning process for instructional computing. Two aspects have to be analyzed: computer laboratories and computerassisted instruction (CAI). Computer Laboratories There is general recognition of the importance of computer laboratories for teaching and assisting students which is evidenced by the extensive institutional support for the continuing operation of the laboratories, from caretaking through to presidential support. Signifi-cant capital and operating funds are annually advanced to maintain and expand the current base of 26 public laboratories. In addition, many faculties have established computer labor-atories with their own financial resources and a knowledgeable and efficient support organization is in place.

It is perceived that computer laboratories should be representative of industry-standard products and that all laboratory computers should be configured with base tools (e.g., word processors, spreadsheets, data base and graphics programs). It is also perceived that speciality laboratories should be configured for discipline-specific use (e.g., CAD, music synthesis, animation, virtual reality, etc.). The increased focus on CAI will accentuate the shortage of specialized labs which require different types of equipment. The growing population of students with their own portable computers will create demand for laboratories with plug and play facilities for accessing the University's computing resources. Accessibility must be tempered with protection against malicious use, security breaches, and disastrous events. There is a need for distributed file servers and network connectivity in support of distant students who should have the ability to dial into laboratories from remote locations. Special attention will be required to provide a working environment for the handicapped. Graduate students currently have no guaranteed access to computer laboratories. Although functional, the current method of scheduling laboratory time is not conducive for irregular bookings. Overall, there are insufficient capital and operating funds allocated to computer laboratories by the University. The difficult choices necessary in providing appropriate current technology have led to a lack of planned upgrading for the existing laboratories and have resulted in several technologically obsolete and embarrassing facilities. The joint ownership of laboratories across departments should continue to be explored. Furthermore, the provision of funding according to the fiscal year for services to be provided within the academic year severely compromises University purchasing policies and procedures for seeking tenders from prospective vendors. The primary risk is that computer laboratory funding will be reduced while demand increases and that CNS will be unable to provide an effective support operation with the available resources. The further risk exists that the University will be unable to halt and reverse the decline in laboratory facilities as the pace of technology proceeds faster than laboratories can be refurbished. A likely consequence would be less public access for students as laboratories become increasingly privately owned by faculties seeking greater autonomy in lab availability and technology choices. This would result in a less than effective use of University resources. There are several options for the future of computer laboratories on campus: * CNS could relinquish laboratory operation and transfer the responsibility to the faculties. This would ignore achieved economies of scale and the spirit of sharing from which the University enjoys reduced costs. * Plug and faculties attendant portables play facilities could be provided by CNS, leaving the to provide special-purpose laboratories. Without an policy requiring and assisting students to own as a requisite of enrolling at the University, this

would discriminate against students who cannot afford their own equipment. * CNS could provide only base tools in public laboratories. This would limit centrally provided services while leaving the faculties to construct, maintain, and operate speciality facilities without the benefit of established University experience. * The University could decide to have no private departmental laboratories and could seek support from CNS for all campus computer labs: a somewhat daunting spectre that would ignore discipline-specific requirements and the benefits of local ownership. * Joint ownership and operation of public laboratories could be established. Shared responsibility in the operation of laboratories would leverage resources and experience that may well be available within a faculty. * CNS could provide seamless remote access to instructional computing servers from both on and off campus. * CNS could provide leadership for improving laboratory booking and seek methods that lead to the full use of laboratories. * Outsourcing the provision of laboratory facilities is an option. * CNS could assume leadership in managing site licences and standard products for common needs. Preferred Course of Action For the foreseeable future, the student population will require unscheduled access to computing laboratories. In contrast, academic instructors will increasingly seek scheduled time in computing laboratories in support of their teaching programs. CNS must improve booking of laboratories to achieve optimal usage by the entire community. There are many central services which are essential for the operation of laboratories. CNS can ensure the connectivity of laboratories with the campus and the world. It can help realize economies of scale in the purchasing of equipment, lab proctoring, and software site licensing. The campus can also benefit from CNS experience and expertise in assisting faculties with lab planning and in helping set criteria for the selection and evaluation of proposals for centrally funded instructional labs. Sharing the responsibilities of laboratory establishment and operation is the preferred option. Computer Assisted Instruction Today, components of traditional teaching are being replaced with CAI. CAI is perceived by some to be cost-effective and is a medium for delivering a consistent instruction message. There is growing campus interest in seeking more efficient teaching methods as evidenced by the creation of the new

Department of University Teaching Services. Several faculties are independently developing CAI courses in various disciplines. Remnants of the expertise gained during the PLATO service are dwindling but are still available to the campus. Improvements in multimedia technologies have greatly improved the potential for a quality product that could well be a component in all course levels. Apart from a loose and informal cooperation between adventurous individuals, there is virtually no campus infrastructure for the delivery of CAI. A standard courseware development and delivery platform is lacking. CAI system development and courseware authoring are uncoordinated and the University does not benefit from shared expertise or economies of scale. There are limited site licence/vendor alliance arrangements in place, but vendor support cannot be focused because of the lack of a CAI infrastructure. In summary, there is no method of sharing CAI resources or avoiding duplication across the campus. As of yet, there are only ideas about who could undertake CAI and where CAI campus support could best be located. Notwithstanding an infrastructure mechanism, CAI will require specialty computer laboratory space that is protected against malicious use, security breaches and disaster events, with support for handicapped access and irregular bookings. There may be a need for remote connectivity to such laboratories. If the University should decide it does not want a CAI support service, it will lose an opportunity for institutional leadership and participation in advanced educational methods. The resources the University has chosen to allocate to date have been minimal. For its part, CNS may be unable to provide any effective support operation without increasing the current staff base. There are several options for CAI: * CNS could take leadership in providing full CAI authoring, licensing, and facility services. Although providing focus, it is hard to envisage that an all encompassing and quality service could be provided from a single location. A CAI course is discipline-specific and a computer expert remote from the faculty would likely have difficulty transferring knowledge into the desired educational message. The academic instructor must be closely involved. * Collaborative CAI support structures could be established with leaders such as Medicine, Education, and University Teaching Services. CNS could seek to participate in common platform support and author training, while avoiding the costs of a full development service. * CNS could support the base platform, i.e., hardware, operating system, courseware site licences, the network, without any specific involvement or responsibility in CAI as an application. * It could be decided that CAI services are purely a faculty responsibility. Preferred Course of Action The University will be unable to ignore the benefits of

computer-assisted instruction. Past experience with PLATO has correctly led to an atmosphere of caution and a realization of the complexities involved in the enterprise. However, the fragmented and uncoordinated CAI developments across the campus can only lead to islands of excellence rather than overall leadership in the field for the University. CNS expertise lies in the provision of computing assistance rather than in skills of course preparation. CNS should encourage collaboration with program developers but limit involvement to hardware and software procurement and selected product support and training. As time goes on, the campus should strive to build a consensus around a limited set of CAI development and delivery platforms and there should be better delineation of CAI responsibilities between CNS and faculties. Administrative Computing Efficient on-line manipulation of institutional data is essential for the operation of the University. Institutional data comprises data on markets (prospective students, funding, competitors), data on products (students, research, inventions, technology transfers), data on finances (accounts payable, accounts receivable, endowments), data on personnel (faculty, staff), and data on physical assets (real estate, equipment, animals, collections). There is a tendency to associate ownership of this data with University administrative personnel only, neglecting the fact that faculty members also need access to institutional data for student advising, processing of grants, etc. The goal is to create an environment where access to data is shared across campus and where data retrieval and manipulation is made easy by standard tools that work uniformly, independently of where data is stored. To make this work, policies and procedures are necessary to determine custodianship of data and authorization to view and change information. In the past, as institutional data was put on-line and systems such as student records and payroll were developed, little planning occurred at universities to make the various systems compatible. As a result, most of these systems today cannot exchange information, leading to duplication of data and unnecessary paperwork. The challenge is to create an infrastructure with common data elements and standards that allow appropriate communication among systems. This task is made even more difficult today as there is a tendency to move institutional data from centrally run mainframes to special purpose platforms run by individual departments. In this distributed data base scenario, an efficient network and standards of communication are essential. Solving business problems and enhancing University of Alberta operations with information technology has wide support on campus and demand for distributed information systems is high. The University has demonstrated success in utilizing information technology for administration and there is a solid foundation of core administrative systems in which newer distributed technology could be incorporated. A cooperative attitude is evident across the campus toward sharing and exploiting information systems

expertise. While the benefits of the distributed model look alluring, the transition from centralized administrative computing to distributed systems raises its own set of concerns. The fundamental risk is that departments will develop non-integrated systems on their own without adequately acknowledging the needs of others. Another concern is the lack of available funds to invest in new technology which comes with a substantial price tag. An overall University business plan is lacking and there are inadequately defined avenues for cooperative application development. Fear of diminishing central control is a factor and a mainframe mindset exists in small segments of the administrative computing community. Some problems at the technical implementation level must also be ironed out. Extensive data duplication must be eliminated and the cumbersome and slow application development process must be rejuvenated. The current system architecture must be brought upto-date to meet the criteria of easy access to mainframe data from workstations. Use of commercially available packages should be pursued more aggressively, even to the extent of modifying business processes in order to achieve cost savings and quicker implementation. There are several options for CNS in administrative computing: * The most pressing task for CNS is to complete the development of an information systems plan. The plan will identify current University business functions that need to be addressed; it will develop various data structure, communication, and procedural standards and guidelines to facilitate more development and operation of applications by end-user departments. Implementing the plan successfully will require a harmonious blend of central and distributed functions so that CNS can ensure proper integration of departmental systems with existing centralized applications. * The best-case scenario for the University would be to acquire new hardware with sufficient capacity, and modern software tools incorporating relational data base support and common query facilities. This would, however, involve a mammoth undertaking to convert existing applications and to retrain staff. * A less daunting option is for CNS to focus resources on the development and maintenance of administrative applications defined as critical to the University, leaving other applications to departments, who may contract out development work and application maintenance from commercial service providers. Preferred Course of Action Integrated and compatible information systems that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of administration are of vital importance to the University. The legacy systems currently in place that support existing administrative processes will have to be continually supported with substantial resource commitments in order to facilitate problem resolu-tions, essential changes, and enhancements to improve efficiency. Priorities are required for administrative computing. CNS does

not have the resources to support the existing application suite and at the same time develop new applications and redevelop existing applications in line with strategic integration requirements. The most effective choice is for CNS to concentrate on mission-critical applications and to provide assistance to client departments in the development and support of their own applications. Emphasis will be placed on establishing a planning process and on building an infrastructure to promote the development of integrated information systems. Policies and Procedures The key management issue in a distributed computing environment is integration and exploitation of a variety of equipment, information, and expertise. Key to this pursuit are standards, as they provide the necessary communication links between the multitude of computing resources. Standards have to be responsive to technological advances and can only be introduced if demand for information technology is anticipated and lead. It is very difficult to manage the computing environment in a purely reactive mode. Besides standards, other policies and procedures are important. User policies and proce-dures provide guidelines for issues such as the ethical use of computers and proper use of labs. Internal CNS policies and procedures, such as problem resolution tracking, give users reassurance that their requirements are properly addressed. Central control of all information technology on campus is not only unwise, but it is unworkable as well. However, to function effectively there must be some central policies and procedures, especially in infrastructure matters such as connection to a backbone network. For information technology owned by faculties and individuals, voluntary standards should be in place for those who wish to garner the benefits of interoperability (e.g., all LAN packages on campus need TCP/IP compatibility to properly utilize the Internet). These standards should be developed with the representative involvement of those concerned. The following specific options were examined with regard to policies and procedures: * CNS could wait for clear direction from the University's senior administration. This would be an abrogation of our responsibility to coordinate the effective use of information technology. * CNS could wait for clear direction from faculties and departments. Although the user community expects to be involved in the process, they look to CNS as the responsible party. * To maximize user involvement, understanding, and cooperation, CNS could organize a standard-setting committee having representative membership from the campus. Preferred Course of Action CNS will take a leading role in defining infrastructure

standards for interfacing with a central network backbone and in establishing common data definitions for institutional information systems. A list of supported products that conform with infrastructure standards will also be defined with user participation. Use of these standard products is voluntary but unless they are adopted no central support can be provided. Policies and procedures will also be developed with users in areas such as security and access to information and they will be communicated to the entire campus community. Coordinating Computing Initiatives Many of the tasks involved in developing an effective technology infrastructure involve resolution of issues that go beyond the mandate of a central organization like CNS. Two such issues are custodial responsibility for institutional data and the University's commitment to instructional computing. The problem facing all universities as information technology spreads, is the identification of the responsible decision-making and organizing bodies. These bodies must be formed with the various types of clients in mind. At a university, there are fundamental differences between faculty, students, and administrators. University administrators form a business-like hierarchical organization with clear reporting lines; faculties are more of a guild. Although it is appropriate and widely recommended in the literature to appoint a steering committee with executive power to plan for administrative computing, this concept cannot be applied to faculty computing where committees have to be advisory. User involvement should not be limited to committee participation and to expressing computing requirements. Users should also provide some of the implementation support. Computing is becoming more important in the everyday activities of campus individuals and there is a growing abundance of knowledge within the University. There is a need to access this latent expertise in a way that will effectively support the goals of the University. Achieving more effective utilization of this expertise will depend on the individual/ departmental willingness to share. There may be some resistance to becoming more formally involved in the sharing process. The bureaucracy in managing the process must be kept to a minimum to ensure that it does not outweigh the advantages. There are several options for coordinating computing initiatives: * CNS could facilitate the formation of steering and advisory committees to help coordinate and plan information technology activities on campus. * The varied expertise currently available across campus could be cataloged. This expertise could be coordinated and exploited for the good of the University. * The jurisdiction of departments involved with delivery of various aspects of computing services could be clarified. * Individual constituencies could be left to fend for themselves

in acquiring needed expertise and assistance. Preferred Course of Action CNS will facilitate the formation of user interest groups, and steering and advisory committees which will be advisory to the Vice-President, Student and Academic Services. The mandate of these committees will be to organize and coordinate computing activities and they will involve the appropriate CNS and user experts and support from senior executives. CNS will catalog the variety of expertise on campus, making it accessible to the entire University. The success of such an endeavor will be dependent on the willingness of the University community to participate. Organizing CNS Many central computing service departments are undergoing organizational changes to better respond to new management and computing environment challenges. An organizational approach along technological lines has been adopted by several universities, including Indiana, Cornell, and the Ecole Polytechnique de F_d_ral Lausanne; it promises to be responsive to the new computing environment. Expert units, each specializing in a different aspect of information technology, are the main constituents of the organization. The efforts of these units are guided by chosen standards and the requirements of a particular type of computer user. These requirements are collected and voiced via committees of the specific user groups. Organizational change is motivated by the widespread concern that computing service departments with the old structure, like the former UCS, comprised of different units for academic and administrative computing, are incurring severe inefficiencies as both groups increasingly have the same technology needs and user base. As Hawkins, Weissman, and Wolfe write in Organizing and Managing Information Resources on Campus (Hawkins, Brian L., editor. EDUCOM, 1989, p. 249.), "Academic and administrative computing have often been supported by separate groups having separate cultures. In a distributed computing environment, the need to access different kinds of information in a seamless fashion makes it imperative that these areas work harmoniously. Administrative users, for example, require the same kinds of word processing and other kinds of productivity tools as faculty do. Faculty need access to administrative data bases of many kinds to support student advising and the processing of grants. And at a departmental level, the boundaries between 'academic' and 'administrative' computing may be hard to discern." A more effective organization of CNS, with sufficient flexibility to meet constantly changing needs, is an urgent necessity. Reorganization is supported by CNS staff and the campus. CNS has several organizational options. All the options require that CNS strengthen communication channels both horizontally and vertically within CNS and develop effective interfaces to the University community so that clients needs can be effectively understood and addressed. Reorganization must minimize the duplication and overlap of

services provided by CNS and others in the user community. It must ensure adequate depth and breadth of staff skills and expertise. Bureaucracy must be kept to a minimum. Success of the reorganization will depend on the ability of management to provide challenging opportunities and on the willingness of staff to revise their outlook along new lines. CNS staff have to be encouraged to participate in planning. Proactive identification of skills to perform the various functions is required to ensure that effective training plans are in place. Career path options for staff have to be developed to provide them with interesting and challenging opportunities. To do this while honoring the staff association agreements and the current University performance appraisal system are big challenges for the management team. Preferred Course of Action CNS must evolve a competent, flexible, and efficient organization. Skills from the department must be balanced with those of the community in addressing constantly changing technological requirements. An effective structure will accommodate the diverse needs of clients without duplicating efforts within CNS or elsewhere on campus. Marketing A computing services department must provide an easy point of contact for clients to voice their requirements. Clients have to be kept informed of future plans; problems have to be tracked and resolutions communicated to the affected users; solutions to common problems have to be documented and reported widely; services and facilities have to be advertised in a comprehensive fashion and education programs have to be organized. Some of these tasks have become much more complex with the advent of distributed computing: requirements are much more diverse than in the past and the equipment to be looked after involves knowledge of many architectures and an understanding of many different vendor contracts and agreements. While CNS had an excellent image as a computer centre in the early era of centralized time-sharing, its reputation is currently diminished. The current strategic planning process will, however, focus the department's attention on the requirements voiced by users. As results will be achieved and communicated widely, CNS hopes to satisfy users and regain a good reputation. We will use the Dispatch newsletter, which is wellrespected and widely read, as our primary communication vehicle. Involvement of senior administration and a large user base in developing our strategic plan gives CNS a level of comfort that we will be moving in the right direction. While we imple-ment the strategic plan, CNS must be careful not to raise false expectations with promises that cannot be kept. We have to develop a positive attitude, despite the tough financial times ahead, and CNS staff have to overcome discouragement and develop increased pride in their work. Preferred Course of Action CNS will provide a uniform and reliable point of contact

between the users and the department and will publicize its strategic and operational plans widely. It will deliver on promises. Services and achievements will be widely publicized. CNS will also increase its involvement in the continent-wide university computing community. By playing a significant role in organizations such as EDUCOM and CAUSE, CNS can reap the benefits of leading-edge thinking and enhance the reputation of computing services at the University. This will help attract outstanding students, researchers, and instructors to the University of Alberta. Finance and Partnership Demarcation of financial responsibilities is necessary in a distributed computing environment. The question of who owns and who pays for computing resources is fundamental to building an efficient and effective information technology infrastructure. Presently, universities are committed to funding a core of computing resources and services, but this core is getting smaller due to shrinking budgets. The CNS base budget has not escaped these economic constraints. Both operating and capital funds are decreasing. External and internal revenues are also decreasing on a rapid scale as users acquire more independent workstations and facilities. Financial resources for new initiatives and new services are therefore inadequate. Another underlying problem is the current charging structure for computing services which is irrational and ineffective for both CNS and its clients. A charging mechanism has to reflect the real cost of each service and must treat each category of user equally. The University can opt for a number of financial orientations. It could continue to provide a core of centrally supported services and leave funding for specialized facilities and services to the user community. Alternatively, it could opt to make CNS an ancillary organization based on full cost-recovery. Shrinking budgets make a third possibility of complete central funding for all services an unlikely choice. Preferred Course of Action CNS prefers to operate with central funds for mission-critical services and to recover costs for specialized facilities and services from the departments. A fair charging mechanism will define, with the appropriate user participation, the services in each category. Looking beyond the current circumstances, CNS must identify and capitalize on alternative funding sources and untapped expertise. Together with the Vice-President, Development, CNS can establish specific and intensive fund raising projects. It can develop joint ventures with other campus units and external entities and it can get more involved with other universities, government agencies, and industry. For example, a collaborative strategy holds the most promise for gaining access to adequate supercomputing facilities for researchers. CNS fund raising initiatives can rely on a general increase in

campus awareness that computing is essential and that its cost is necessary to the present and future operation of the University. This has been emphasized by the UCAG Task Force reports and the increasing role that technology is playing in many areas of University life. A favorable marketplace with increased competition and falling costs will also enable more effective use of funds. Strategic Directions and Action Plans

Analysis of the strategic issues, the options available to CNS, and the preferred courses of action, leads to the strategic directions and action plans described in this chapter. Both the strategic directions and the action plans will be reviewed annually and updated as required. The actions described in this chapter will be implemented within the next two to three years. More details of the plans are available from CNS. Strategic Direction #1: Research Computing Services To assist in reducing the complexity of computing in the research environment, launch distributed services to support computing by individual researchers or research groups at their locations. Our aim is to help researchers manage their computing environments. Initially, CNS will restrict these services to the research community only as we do not have the resources to expand them to other users. Actions * In collaboration with research users having complex computing environments, CNS will determine a list of distributed services to help plan and manage the researchers' computing facilities. These services will range from hardware and software selection and maintenance, to assistance in software upgrading, to managing contracts with vendors and writing and distributing user manuals. * CNS will train a pool of staff to deliver distributed services and devise methods to exploit commonalities among the various research environments on campus. Strategic Direction #2: CAI and Computer Labs To assist in the application of information technology to instruction, launch distributed services to support the use of computing in the teaching/learning process. Instructional computing has two components: computer laboratories and computer-assisted instruction. Our aim for laboratories is to develop partnerships with faculties and departments to ensure optimal use of facilities. Our aim for computer-assisted

instruction is to focus the efforts of those involved in courseware development. Actions * CNS will assist in the formation of a campus instructional computing standing committee to deal with computer-assisted instruction and computer laboratories. CNS will facilitate services identified as essential by this standing committee. Computer Assisted Instruction * Establishment of a courseware centre will be facilitated by CNS, where interested faculty can view and evaluate available courseware in their subject areas. An on-line directory of the available courseware will be provided. * CNS will coordinate and advertise site licences for courseware development packages and shareware and public domain tutorials. Instructional Laboratories * CNS will help plan and coordinate public computer laboratory proposals and evaluate them in consultation with the appropriate committees (e.g., UCAG, the Task Force on Instructional Laboratories, the Computing Science Liaison committee, the Faculty of Arts Computer Committee, etc.). * Policies will be developed by CNS, together with faculties and the responsible directional committees, to define responsibilities for the use and operation of shared computer laboratory facilities. * Access policies and booking procedures will be developed by CNS, to ensure optimal usage of laboratories by University departments in their teaching, and to assist students in accessing computing facilities. Strategic Direction #3: Central Services To optimally apply available resources, de-emphasize the role of central services by rationalizing the number of supported services and their level of support. Central services based on large mainframes are expensive to acquire and operate. Unless the demands for each service are sufficient, economies of scale cannot be applied. By identifying the users and the utilization of each service, and clients' future intended usage patterns, plans can be made to provide the best possible services by reducing or eliminating those of less interest. This process will be applied to all central services on a regular basis. The challenge of evolving central facilities consists of maintaining investments in applications while taking advantage of newer technologies. Actions * CNS will plan for central services by working with special interest groups and advisory committees. These groups will provide CNS with information about the current and future needs

of each application and service running on central facilities. Measurements determining the demands on the systems of centrally run applications will be undertaken and CNS will recommend on the best platform, whether central or departmental. * CNS will work closely with the University of Alberta Library to accomplish the goals outlined in the Library's plan, Riding the Wave. * A policy will be developed by CNS and users by which central services may be declared redundant. Criteria will be developed to test, on a regular basis, the cost-effectiveness and value to clients of the various services. This process will be applied to the MTS service as a pilot project and extended to all major services. * For technology deemed obsolete by the rationalization process, CNS will provide assistance in orderly migration of applications to different platforms. * The MVS service will be reconfigured by CNS to meet the demand for open access to some applications such as the Library's online catalog. * CNS will react to current system load requirements and service demands. Expanding VM capacity, for example, will improve PROFS performance and will allow the incorporation of new services such as SPSS. * Along with the de-emphasis of central services, CNS will encourage distributed services by defining plans with users for the installation of departmental printers, servers, and other peripherals. CNS will continue operating facilities which are too expensive for a single department to acquire (e.g., Versatec plotter, optical mark reading systems). * To enhance the distributed computing environment, CNS will develop UNIX expertise by training a pool of staff in UNIX system administration and support. CNS will develop a product support mechanism for central UNIX-based services, such as editors, compilers, and new operating system releases, which can be extended to client workstations. Strategic Direction #4: Professional Services To assist all of our various clients in fulfilling the mission of the University, provide professional services on an equitable basis. Personnel-based services must be rationalized in the same way as computer services. CNS staff must give, without prejudice, assistance to all types of clients at the University at the same cost. The services offered must be valued by the clients and support their endeavors to achieve excellence. Care must be taken to determine which services and products are key to successful application of information technology; resources must not be squandered on support of non-essentials.

Actions * CNS will catalog and publish a list of its professional services. Areas of support are networking and data communications, workstations and distributed computing, information systems, computer-assisted instruction, statistical analysis, numerically-intensive computing, and visualization. In these areas, only well-defined, selective support will be provided. * Help services will be focused through the establishment of a User Support Centre for problem resolution and tracking, computer course enrollment, public relations and publications activities, client registration, and usage accounting. * CNS will provide a wide range of network and data communications services involving installation, operation, maintenance, development, consulting, and training. These services cover mainframe connections including serial, Ethernet, Hyperchannel, and 3270 technology, as well as networks and LANs of different sorts, and their routers, bridges, and basic network servers. * Workstation support and distributed computing services will include requirements analysis for computer labs, departments, and individuals. Support will be provided for workstations, peripherals, and common software products. * In addition to supporting mission-critical requirements, CNS will facilitate the provision of other information system services to departments by external agencies. * System software services will include expert consulting for the MTS, MVS, VM, and UNIX operating systems. User support will be provided for centrally run compilers, editors, file systems, and data base management tools. Support for e-mail will consist of assistance in installing packages on local area networks and individual workstations and providing usable e-mail systems on a central service for those without a local option. * Central operating services will allow access to central resources, assist with printing output, provide optical mark reading facilities, and ensure data and physical security. * In statistical analysis, visualization, and numericallyintensive computing, CNS will emphasize system-level support and will help establish user groups in areas where they do not already exist. CNS will encourage departments to provide independent support for solving discipline-specific problems not directly related to the use of computers. * CNS will work to provide services without duplicating other efforts on campus. Following the PACCR Report recommendation, the Data Library will be transferred to the jurisdiction of the University Library. * CNS will enhance interoperability by developing and applying end-to-end diagnostics and problem resolution.

Strategic Direction #5: Institutional Data To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of University administration, concentrate CNS resources in the development and support of mission-critical applications, while assisting end-users in their development of other applications. The overall effectiveness and efficiency of the University's administration is greatly dependent on the development and utilization of robust and innovative information systems. These systems, whether constructed centrally or by end-users, will be developed optimally under guidance of an information systems plan, and according to priorities determined by a steering committee. Standards and guidelines will be established to promote and encourage intersystem integration and compatibility, easy accessibility, reduction of process and data redundancy, and cost-effective utilization of distributed and mainframe platforms. The primary thrust will be on the development of mission-critical applications and those that achieve an overall benefit to the University. Actions * In collaboration with the University community, CNS will coordinate the development of an information systems plan which will identify the information systems required by the University. * By means of a steering committee comprised of senior administration, user representatives, and CNS, a process will be established for determining priorities for the projects identified in the information systems plan. The process will address integration and compatibility requirements and needs that benefit the University as a whole. * CNS will develop, implement, and maintain mission-critical systems in the order determined by the information systems steering committee. Solutions for mission-critical systems will follow established standards and guidelines and acknowledge resource constraints. * Administrative computing standards and guidelines will be established by CNS. These standards will apply to integration and compatibility issues, data administration, and distributed processing. * CNS will establish and maintain a technology architecture plan to support the University's information systems. New technology such as Computer Assisted Software Engineering (CASE), relational data bases, easy-to-use query languages, and distributed processing will be utilized in the new architecture along with existing technology. Compatibility between the various information systems in the architecture is a basic requirement. * CNS will continue development and implementation of previously committed projects: STAR (Student Advising Report); HRIS (Human Resources Information System); and PARK (Parking Information

System). * For existing information systems, CNS will continue to provide essential support. This will involve resolving production problems, accommodating constant changes in government and University regulations, and modifications to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Strategic Direction #6: Data Communications Network To improve the productivity of our users and to expand their horizons, provide faster global connectivity and interoperability by evolving the campus data communications network and the supporting distributed facilities. A campus-wide fibre optic backbone network is essential for solving issues of campus and worldwide connectivity and interoperability. Such a backbone linked to modern off-campus networks would allow advanced research projects to connect with large data stores. The Library could advance to the transcontinental virtual library which supports full text and graphics retrieval. Through careful product and standard selection, users on local area networks connected to the backbone could achieve seamless and peer-to-peer access to campus computing resources. Actions * CNS will establish a steering committee for data communications under the vice-presidential umbrella. The committee will analyze needs, form consensus in objectives, and review achievements. Representatives from the key service providers, user constituencies, and financial authority should make up the committee. Network Hardware * CNS will participate in the planning, installation, and support of campus LANs. This will involve requirements analysis, estimates for installation costs and, on request, the coordination of installation and LAN administrator training. * A centrally funded, high-speed (100 megabits per second), highcapacity, campus-wide fibre optic backbone using FDDI technology will be installed by CNS. Initially, this will involve publicizing and coordinating the campus commitment to a multi-year phased network implementation and financial plan. Phase I implementation of the fibre service between the General Services Building and the Central Academic Building will begin in 1992. Subsequent phases will involve technological review, the installation of fibre between the Central Academic Building and the Walter C. MacKenzie Health Sciences Centre, and the installation of the service in the remaining central quadrant buildings and the balance of the campus. * In our commitment to availability, reliability, and serviceability, CNS will provide the support required to install, upgrade, maintain, and manage the backbone network. CNS will provide the specifications and information needed for

connections to the fibre backbone. * CNS will participate in the development of high-speed national networks. The federal government, through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Industry, Science, and Technology Canada, is developing a proposal to achieve significantly increased speeds within the national research network. * CNS will participate in an orderly advancement to T3 speed (45 megabits per second) on the national backbone network. Such an advancement requires active participation in the management and administration of the Alberta Research Network (ARnet). Furthermore, the University will participate in the expansion of ARnet to other seats of learning throughout Alberta and assist in seeking support in this venture from the provincial government department of Technology, Research and Telecommunications. Network Software * To help users manage their workstations, CNS will provide a central network service that allows remote backups and recovery of data as well as software distribution. Packages such as Athena and New Era will be evaluated and implemented. * In the area of electronic mail, CNS will integrate and extend standard products that can be used across all platforms. This will require the implementation of a general purpose mail hub on the CNS UNIX server which is able to resolve addresses and route messages using the X.400 open systems data communications model. * CNS will support the use of e-mail by providing assistance in installing packages on local area networks and individual workstations, and by providing usable e-mail systems on a central service for those without a local service. * Electronic calendaring systems which offer more functionality than VM PROFS will be investigated by CNS. This will enable the larger community to make use of scheduling and conference room booking capabilities. * CNS will provide a secure networked environment based on authentication tools. CNS will evaluate and implement the best authentication systems, such as Kerberos, which provide secure access to distributed resources. * CNS will collaborate in the Internet endeavor and will implement our portion of the address data base that routes messages going through the University of Alberta Internet node. * An anonymous ftp (file transfer protocol) service which can be accessed by unregistered users over the network will be established by CNS. The department and other campus groups can make files and programs available to the Internet world by storing them in a common location. * File servers accessible over the network will be made available to users for site-licensed, shareware, and public domain software packages.

Strategic Direction #7: Sharing Expertise To better utilize the application of human resources throughout the University, facilitate the sharing of expertise. Expertise in technology has spread dramatically in recent years. As the breadth of technology use has widened, the ability of CNS to be expert in everything is no longer possible. It is necessary to ensure that all information technology knowledge and expertise is made widely available throughout the University on a collaborative basis. CNS intends to be the leader in establishing a catalog of this expertise. Actions * A User Support Centre will be established by CNS, to act as a front line interface between CNS and clients. Clients problems will be tracked using problem management software and common problems and solutions will be documented and publicized. * Based on an analysis of user queries and usage of the User Support Centre, CNS will determine areas where training may be required and facilitate such training in the form of short courses, conferences, and seminars. * CNS will establish and maintain a complete directory of clients that includes the services they utilize and their expertise in specific hardware and software (if they are willing to share that expertise). This directory will also include CNS staff and expertise. * CNS will publish standards and methods for supported computer and communications hardware and software. This information will include input from the entire campus computing community as well as CNS specialists; it will be available in print and online through a documentation server accessible over the network. Strategic Direction #8: Numerically Intensive Computing To assist researchers with numerically-intensive computational needs in becoming more competitive, acquire easy access to reliable, large-scale computing facilities. CNS must enable researchers to access more computing capacity, both on and off campus. This capacity can be in the form of linked workstations, mid-range high-performance systems, and supercomputers. Actions * Through collaboration with provincial and national entities, CNS must enable researchers to gain access to high-performance computing facilities located in Canada and elsewhere in North America. Ease of access will rely on high-speed networks.

* To facilitate access to supercomputers, CNS will investigate how to evolve current mid-range systems on campus such as the Convex C210. * CNS will investigate solutions for NIC users involving groups of networked workstations that share idle machine cycles by distributing and running programs with a scheduling mechanism. * CNS will investigate the means to provide high-speed data communications links between the University and other sites. CNS will ensure involvement of the appropriate University constituencies in national and international network groups and endeavors. * CNS will keep users appraised of the technological directions of numerically-intensive systems, such as parallel computing and visualization developments. Strategic Direction #9: Funding Partnerships To support selected new ventures, assist in promoting funding initiatives during the formative stages. Actions * Through collaboration with other entities, CNS will search for the necessary sources of funds for new ventures in cooperation with University Hall and government agencies, providing, for example, a supercomputer facility or access to high-speed networks. These ventures might involve funds that are currently not available at the University. Strategic Direction #10: Communications Program To improve the value of CNS services to its clients, implement a communications program which facilitates a better understanding between CNS and the University community. It is essential that our services have a high profile in the University community. For our services to remain current and relevant, it is necessary that ongoing communication exist between the rest of the community and CNS, determining new needs and directions. Such promotional work, publishing, user interest groups, and other activities will form the cornerstone of our communications program. Actions * To organize and coordinate computing activities on campus, CNS will define and estab-lish advisory committees with clear terms of reference. The committees will provide input to the planning process and will help organize computing activities. They will deal with special interests, such as research, instructional computing, administrative computing, and networks. Three committees will be of interest to all users. The Information Technology Standards Committee will establish, monitor, and

promote campus standards; the Technology Watch Group will monitor product evolution and trends; the Faculty Computing Group will provide a means for CNS to keep in touch with and react to faculty-level information technology planning. * To enhance collection and dissemination of information technology knowledge, CNS will facilitate user interest groups and ensure that expertise is used to the advantage of the user community. * CNS will coordinate and provide the services of a campus-wide information system (i.e., electronic bulletin boards), containing information of interest to unregistered users on campus events, services, policies and procedures, and student, administrative, and faculty information. * CNS will publish and maintain a list of the services it offers. * Dispatch and other information bulletins will be published by CNS on a regular basis. Strategic Direction #11: Standards To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of University operations, achieve a campus preference for standards, policies, and procedures regarding information technology, developed with the representative involvement of the client base. Without restricting the ability to freely choose local computing environments, CNS will develop voluntary standards, policies, and procedures in cooperation with the user community. This will allow CNS to concentrate on a finite number of software and hardware components and combinations. In some areas where consistency must be assured for the stability of all users (such as in network connections), CNS will maintain mandatory standards defined with the user community. Actions * CNS will develop, in collaboration with a new Information Technology Standards Committee, selected mandatory and voluntary standards and guidelines. These standards will be for security and access, software and hardware components and combinations, network protocols, as well as common data definitions (especially for institutional data bases). * Policies on the ethics of distributed computing will be developed by CNS. These will assist the campus in detecting and recovering from unethical use of computer resources. * To advise users on recommended configurations for easy integration in the campus environment, CNS will choose standard hardware and software products. This will be done in cooperation with the University Bookstore, Technical Services, Materials Management, and the user community.

* CNS will implement a mechanism to identify supported and unsupported hardware and software. * With user involvement, CNS will review, revise, and publish existing and new policies and procedures in selected areas such as security, access privileges, institutional data standards, and requests for funding. * CNS will coordinate and advertise application site licences, volume purchase agreements, and public domain software, as well as the distribution of software under these agreements. Strategic Direction #12: Leveraging Technology To provide innovative computing solutions and increased value, leverage the existing technology and carefully apply proven new technologies. There currently exists, both within CNS and at other sites on campus, a considerable investment in computing hardware and software. Although the infrastructure supporting this equipment cannot be considered state of the art, it has been bought and paid for. It still provides the functionality required for some applications, at a price which is considerably less, in terms of time and money, than that of the leading-edge technology. Innovative solutions and a continued return on investment can be achieved by leveraging the existing technology and by carefully applying new, but proven, additions. Actions * CNS will install and develop interfaces between existing applications and new technologies to increase the value of both. Providing access to high-speed central printers and plotters for any networked client is an example of this; other examples are communication between the System/370 based platforms (MTS, MVS, VM) and the Internet world and invisible connections between the various System/370 services. Further examples of leveraging technology are covered under other strategic directions in this chapter.

Strategic Direction #13: New Funding Sources To achieve our goals, develop innovative ways of obtaining the necessary funding and other resources. CNS cannot rely on decreasing central University funds to provide the computing services required to create an efficient and competitive environment. Through partnership with users, vendors, and government agencies, CNS must find the necessary funds and resources. Actions

* CNS will collaborate with senior University administration, especially the Vice-President of Development, in finding sources of money beyond the funds now provided centrally. * CNS will establish partnerships with vendors to find win-win situations that could finance new initiatives. For example, the University could become a testing ground for new products, such as networking tools which need a test bed with a great variety of equipment and users. * CNS will work with users to acquire additional computing funds from government agencies and foundations. Strategic Direction #14: Charging for Services To achieve a rational method of utilizing our resources, allocate central funding to a specified base level of services. Additional services above the base level are provided on a cost-recovery basis. There is presently no clear demarcation of which services are funded through central administration and which ones are provided on a cost-recovery basis. There is therefore no way to quantify the returns on central funding. Actions * CNS will rationalize its charging structure in collaboration with the appropriate University bodies and communicate the results to the University. The charging structure will define which services are centrally funded and those which are provided on a cost-recovery basis. * An annual financial report will be published by CNS, showing how funds were spent and how revenue was acquired.

Strategic Direction #15: Reorganization To support our strategic direction, CNS will reorganize to provide its services in the most effective manner. Because different types of clients use the same technological base more and more, the old UCS organization based on administrative and academic computing became inefficient. Actions * A document describing a proposed reorganization for computing services has been circulated to UCAG. CNS will seek further input and ensure that the proposed new organization is appropriate to implement the strategic plan. The reorganization will be implemented with staff participation. * Internal quality programs will be implemented by CNS to ensure establishment of an efficient organization. Programs will be instituted to provide a work environment conducive to good

staff performance; a culture will be nurtured that is responsive to campus needs and that guarantees quality services. Training of staff to ensure appropriate levels of expertise is of particular importance and CNS will train as many generalists as possible who can provide end-to-end services. Acknowledgements

Networking Computers and People on Campus and Beyond was made possible by the participation of CNS staff, senior University administration, various University planning bodies, and many CNS clients on campus. The strategic planning process has been invaluable for CNS. It has given the department the chance to study and re-evaluate its role as a comput-ing service department. Participation of the President and Vice-Presidents in the CNS strategic planning process has been greatly appreciated, as has the involvement of members of UCAG and the UCAG Task Force chairs. Interaction with these individuals and groups ensured that CNS plans reflect the vision, concerns, and requirements of the University as a whole. CNS would like to thank all those who gave their time and efforts to the completion of Networking Computers and People on Campus and Beyond.